If you’re going to have a Super Bowl party, it can really only mean one thing (aside from a large television and a seven-layer dip) and that’s day drinking. And if you’re day drinking that can really only mean one thing: Bloody Marys. But trust me, though the results of day drinking can be sloppy, the preparation shouldn’t be—a little bit of planning ahead of time will go a long way to you actually enjoying your own party. I mean, you don’t want to be stuck mixing drinks while others are enjoying themselves. Secondly, a Bloody Mary bar is just more than a bunch of condiments you pulled out of your pantry at the last minute, it’s a proper bar. Just follow these easy steps and you’ll look like a pro.
SELECT YOUR JUICE
There is no substitute for Clamato. There just isn’t any easy way around it. But tomato juice can be made better. Sure, you can roast your own fresh tomatoes (in the middle of winter) or you can buy some organic tomatoes pre-roasted and canned, and puree them yourself. I reach for the Muir Glen whole tomatoes in the 28-oz. can, run them through a food processor or blender, and then strain through a mesh strainer. The results are unparalleled.
PREMAKE YOUR MIXER
Just because you’ve got some juice doesn’t mean you’re ready to dump some vodka in and call it good. Don’t expect your guests to know how much Worcestershire, lemon juice, celery salt, etc to put in their drinks. Give them a place to start. The recipe below makes a base for both a Bloody Mary, and the ultimate daytime drinking cocktail, the Caesar.
Bloody Mary/Caesar Mix
12 oz. lemon juice
12 oz. Worcestershire sauce
1½ tsp. finely ground black pepper
1½ tsp. celery salt
1 tsp. Tabasco sauce
Combine these ingredients together in a pitcher or bottle and set aside.
SET OUT YOUR GARNISHES
Bloody Mary garnishes are like jewelry on men: a couple of small, tasteful items can be sophisticated; a ton of large accessories makes you look garish. Provide an array of garnishes for your guests that will help accentuate the drink, not smother it in garbage. Here are some great choices.
Celery stalks. Personally I think a delicate celery spear makes for a nice stir-stick. Whole stalks just get in the way. The leafy hearts are prized; everything else should be cut lengthwise to a reasonable diameter.
Olives. Olives are always a savory treat to accompany the drink. I like to pick up a variety of stuffed options, though I avoid the cheese-stuffed variety as they tend to spoil and turn runny fairly quickly at room temperature.
Peppers. Pickled pepperoncini, banana peppers, jalapeños, cherry peppers, guerito peppers, they’re all great additions to the bar. If you want to be extra helpful, organize them from mild to spicy and save your guests unnecessary embarrassment.
Pickles. Pickled cucumber spears, pickled spiced green beans, and pickled asparagus should all be served in their own pickling liquid, with a spoon handy for those who wish to spike their drink with a little brine. Spoiler alert: it’s delicious.
GIVE YOUR GUESTS THE RECIPE
1 oz. premade Bloody Mary mix
2 oz. vodka
4 oz. tomato juice or Clamato
Combine all ingredients in a pint glass over ice, stir well, garnish and serve.
Jeffrey Morgenthaler is the bar manager at Pépé le Moko and Clyde Common, the acclaimed gastropub at the Ace Hotel in Portland, Oregon. He is also author of The Bar Book: Elements of Cocktail Technique.