How to Stock Your Own Pop-Up Bloody Mary Bar

For the second year in a row, my beloved friend Jeff arrived in Las Vegas for a huge eyewear convention with one thing on his mind (other than which pair of his own frames he’ll wear today): pop-up Bloody Mary bar! What guest doesn’t love ’em? The hard work has been done for you, and if your host is anything like Jeff, he’ll set out all kinds of goodies for you to doctor up your personal pint. Whether your Bloody Mary is likely to induce a hangover or cure one, a well-stocked bar lets you take comfort in the knowledge that you’re not alone.

• The Base: My favorite is the house-made Bloody Caesar-style base at Bar + Bistro. But you can use any mix, be it homemade and hit hard with Cholula, Tabasco or sriracha, or purchased over the counter. Remember, this is your hangover, so only you can say what you need to defeat it.

• The Booze: For the traditionalist, Grey Goose, Ketel One, Absolut—the classic expression of your favorite brand will do. (It’s getting a ton of tomato juice dumped on it, so this isn’t the time nor place for something handcrafted, diamond-filtered or single-distilled for flavor.) But for the adventurous, the sky’s the limit: Hangar 1 Chipotle, Ketel One Citroen, Belvedere Bloody Mary, Bakon Vodka … And who even said you have to use vodka? Ever had a Bloody Maria? Try a reposado tequila in there for something different.

• The veggies: Sure, celery, lemon and lime wedges are time-honored traditions, but do think outside what’s already in the icebox: Try cornichons, a variety of olives (Sicilian oil-cured black olives are a revelation), pickled green beans, cocktail onions, tomolives (pickled grape tomatoes) and crisp bacon. And please resist the urge to go overboard.

• Glass rimmers: Think about maybe dressing the glass up with a salt and freshly cracked pepper rim. But how about smoked sea salt? Or Demitri’s Bacon Rimshot (Demitris.com)? Perhaps something with celery and horseradish (DressTheDrink.com)? Just remember to do this step before you add the base, spirit and all the rest. Or you’ll have a bloody mess on your hands.

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