Recipes Appetizers & Drinks Build Your Own Bloody Mary Bar

Here’s the thing about a Bloody Mary– it’s perfect for virtually any occasion, especially in the summer. Brunch? Yes. Grilling out for dinner? Why not? Camping? Absolutely. A Fourth of July bash is no exception, and a Bloody Mary bar can add an extra element of fun and interaction to your celebration. While a Bloody Mary is a drink, it doubles as an appetizer. If you’re having a day-long celebration, it’s the ideal drink/snack combo to hold your guests over till the main event. Here are a few tips on creating the perfect Bloody Mary bar for your Independence Day celebration.

Set up

You’ll need an extra-long table or a few tables pushed together so your guests can build their Bloody Mary as they go. You’ll want to place the goods on the table in the following order to ensure that people don’t get stuck in line and for easy access:

• Glasses
• Ice
• Spices for rims of glass (optional)
• Base mix(es)
• Vodkas
• Skewers (for goodies)
• Veggies
• Other goodies (proteins, pickled items and cheese.)

Stock the bar

There are plenty of Bloody Mary mixes out there, but why not make your own? Having a mild option as well as a spicy option is always a good idea to give your guests a little variety. Give the following recipe a try: tomato juice then add horseradish, black pepper, garlic or garlic salt, Worcestershire sauce and a few dashes of hot sauce for good measure. To make the extra spicy version, just add more spices and hot sauce to give it an extra kick.


Any Vodka works just fine for a scrumptious Bloody Mary. Offer your guests some exciting options to tantalize their taste buds, such as bacon and habanero or Rosemary-infused vodka.


There are lots of veggies that you could throw into a Bloody Mary. Celery is a must, but aside from that, pretty much anything you would put in a standard salad would also work in this drink as well. Cucumbers, peppers, carrots and even sturdier greens like kale work well if bundled or rolled up for easy dipping and eating.


When gathering proteins, think of foods that maintain their shape when dunked in the drink and are easy to add to a skewer or directly into the glass. Bacon, shrimp, summer sausage cubes, rolled ham and thinly sliced steak are all delicious additions to any Bloody Mary — just make sure whichever proteins you choose are easy to eat with the drink and won’t make a mess.

Pickled items

These are a must when it comes to assembling this bar. If nothing else, you must have regular old dill pickles, but why not add some exciting variety with pickled asparagus, pickled peppers, pickled beets, olives and even pickled eggs!


Who doesn’t love cheese in just about anything? Having a variety of cheeses like provolone, pepper jack or fresh mozzarella (fresh mozzarella pearls are perfect for skewers) is wonderful for guests who like to try a variety of things, and cheese is an excellent complement to the tomato juice base.

It’s go time

After you’ve put out all of the items for your bar in open jars and with tongs (better for easy access), make sure to have some lemon and lime wedges out as well. Not only are they pretty, the acidity of the tomato juice pairs well with the acidity of the lemons and limes. It’s also a good idea to keep out extra bottles hot sauce and spices in case guests want to dress up their drink a little. After it’s all set up, make one for yourself and relax and enjoy your party!

Originally from the Lansing area, Megan Martin is a freelance writer based in Grand Rapids. A recent grad of Calvin College, she currently writes for WLM, Grand Rapids Magazine and Solace Magazine.

Print pagePDF pageEmail page