Nothing bespeaks a late morning or early afternoon beautfil fall gameday like a carefully curated Bloody Mary bar! Tailgaters and revelers across the nation seem to share in the love of this fantastic drink. With origins from the 1920s, the Bloody Mary was susposedly concocted by an American bartender at Harry's New York Bar in Paris. Little did that bartender know that his simple creation of vodka and tomato juice would be turned into its own little "salad in a glass" some 90 years later! 

I LOVE a signature drink at any event, especilly a tailgate! I typically create a cocktail to match school colors (think Blue Curacao for Memphis Tiger Tonic for example), however, this drink doesn't have to match! 

On my Bloody Mary bar, ONLY original, authentic homemade Bloody Mary mix may be used and I make no exceptions to this! (My crowd makes no exceptions to this either; I think I would be overthrown if I opted to use a mix off the shelf)! ! My 30 year old recipe uses a very special secret ingredient also from the 1920s but with origins on opposite ends of the earth from Paris; a little known sauce that hails from Jamaica! I have never seen another Bloody Mary recipe like this and I have never tasted one I like better (not to brag, but really, it's awesome)! 

I'll share my ingredients for my Bloody Mary bar, but sharing my recipe for my mix is well...hmm, contact me and we'll see!

So, to continue, I LOVE to put together a Bloody Mary bar, and when I'm finished, the end result somewhat resembles a mini-salad bar! Anything goes as far as I am concerned and I think more is always better. In the end, I sort of end of "eating" my drink! Of course, a Bloody Mary bar at home and a Bloody Mary bar as a moveable feast at a football stadium when tailgating are going to be different, but here are my Bloody Mary bar essentials regardless of location:

TRAY - Start with an oversized gorgeous purposeful TRAY - I think everything MUST be encompassed on a tray that is in keeping with the nature of your event: a collegiate themed colorful tray for a tailgate, a silver or brass tray for a brunch at home or a wicker or woven tray for casual outdoor entertaining. I even have a very large oversized McCarty pottery tray that I use for my Bloody Mary bar. (Yes, I am an admitted TRAY ADDICT and there are lots of us out there; you all know who you are)!

CUPS - OURS, of course! For tailgating, I prefer the ubiquitous collegiate oriented soft plastic "Solo" type cup. As far as size, my preference is the 16oz cup. Go with team colors in red or blue, or go with the classic clear or white cup. For fancier soirees I would use the frost flex {shatterproof} cup in either the 16oz or 20oz size. For a really neat twist, our etched Tritan polycarbonate 18 and 33.5 ounce beer mugs are great for Bloodies when entertaining indoors or out!

NAPKINS - OURS, of course! For tailgating, go with colliegate team 3-ply beverage/cocktail napkins. For more upscale events, I prefer our beautiful Soft Airlaid beverage/cocktail napkins or DeVille cocktail/beverage napkins personalized with a beautiiful monogram.

LIME JUICE and RIMMING SPICES FOR THE RIM OF THE CUPS OR GLASSES - Using a small flat dish for lime juice, wet the rim of the cup or glass with lime juice and dip into a mixture of savory spices including garlic salt, paprika, cayenne pepper, table salt, celery salt, etc., or buy this ready made (yes, "store bought" is allowed here!)

BLOODY MARY MIXHOMEMADE PREFERRED see above; this is a MUST for my crew. Do not mix vodka in; this allows people to make their drinks to their liking and for non-drinkers to enjoy the delish mix as well.

VODKA - Your preference here; at home I tend to use something a little nicer; when serving a crowd at a tailgate, I cut back on the quality and the expense! Infusing it with garlic and black peppercorns beforehand makes it even better!

LIMES & LIMES - Some prefer LEMON, but I'm a lime lover! Regardless, please make these easy to squeeze by cubing them!

SAUCES & SEASONINGS - Anything goes here; Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, celery salt, Tobasco, sriracha, prepared horseradish, Old Bay seasoning, cayenne pepper, Frank's Hot Sauce, etc.


CELERY - I cut this long enough to swizzle!

OLIVES* - Try an assortment here; large to small, blue cheese stuffed to good ole Spanish version with pimento.

CUCUMBERS* - Try cutting these into long spears!

COCKTAIL ONIONS* - Yes, those kind your father used to eat out of the jar!

PICKLES* - Any size, shape or flavor...



BACON or BACON BITS- Candied or not; yes, really!

SEAFOOD*!?! - YES PLEASE! Boiled shrimp or steamed oysters here!


*I like to "pre-skewer" these items (see photo) so guests may eat them off of the stick along with their drink! 

**And, to appease my mother, NOTHING may be served from jar or original container! ALL garnishments must be "decanted" in  keeping with the the style of the event! I use clear acrylic containers when tailgating, silver compotes and vessels for brunches at home and McCarty pieces for casual outdoor or home entertaining. 

And, to nibble on the side:


BENNE WAFERS - If you're not from the South, you may not know what these are!


So, there you have it! The perfect Bloody Mary bar! If I've left anything out, please add it in the comments; we would LOVE to hear from you!