How to Make a Caesar or Bloody Mary Bar
Caesars or Bloody Marys are an amazing brunch or afternoon party drink and a How to Make a Caesar or Bloody Mary Bar is a great way to let your guests get creative.
For the non-Canadians out there, a Caesar is the uniquely Canadian version of a Bloody Mary. The only difference between the two is that Caesars use Clamato which is a blend of tomato and clam juices sold in bottles while Bloody Marys use plain tomato juice.
The terms are otherwise completely interchangeable and I’ll be using both in this post. The Caesar turns 50 in 2019 so why not celebrate with a make your own Caesar bar?
If you prefer, you can make a Bloody Mary / Caesar bar by incorporating both Clamato and plain tomato juice so your guests can choose between the two.
There are lots of recipes for the “ultimate” Bloody Mary or Caesar but the basic recipe is pretty straightforward. Which is what makes a Bloody Mary bar so much fun – you can get really wild with the add ons.
I’ve put the recipe below – once you have the basic Caesar recipe down you’ll find that the more ingredients you switch up, the more interesting the drink gets.
The History of the Caesar
The Caesar or Bloody Caesar was invented right here in Calgary, Alberta by restaurateur Walter Chell in 1969 to celebrate the opening of a new Italian restaurant. It quickly spread across Canada becoming a beloved Canadian cocktail.
The Caesar differs from the Bloody Mary as previously mentioned as it is not just tomato juice but also clam broth for the main ingredient. If you have never tried Clamato juice you are missing out. I love this juice just by itself as a great thirst quencher at lunch or dinner.
According to Wikipedia, the basic preparation of a Caesar follows the “one, two, three, four” rule. The recipe calls for 1–1½ oz of vodka, two dashes of hot sauce, three dashes of salt and pepper, four dashes of Worcestershire sauce and topped with 4–6 oz of Caesar mix and served with ice.
The History of the Bloody Mary
In the 1920’s an American bartender at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris named Fernand Petiot mixed up a concoction of equal parts of tomato juice and vodka.
A patron in the bar suggested he call the drink “Bloody Mary.” He said it reminded him of the Bucket of Blood Club in Chicago, and a girl he knew there named Mary.
In 1934, Petiot moved to New York City and brought the recipe with him. The crowd at the King Cole Bar at the St. Regis Hotel weren’t that impressed and found the drink bland.
Petiot then spiced it up with black pepper, cayenne pepper, Worcestershire sauce, lemon and TABASCO pepper sauce. That’s how an American classic was born. This is according to the site, The Best Bloody Mary.
There is also a version that the name “Bloody Mary” is associated with Queen Mary I of England, daughter of Henry VIII. She was called Bloody Mary because of her murderous ways against the Protestants in the name of Catholicism.
Either way a Bloody Mary or then later Caesar have a reputation of being a great cure for a hangover or a “hair of the dog that bit you” cure. The cocktail today has taken on an even different approach and is served up with almost a meal attached to it.
This is where the fun starts when you make a Caesar or Bloody Mary Bar!! What food goes with Bloody Marys? What alcohol goes with Bloody Marys? Let’s dive into all this and more.
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What Do You Need for a Bloody Mary Bar?
Aside for the basic ingredients (Clamato or tomato juice) to make a Bloody Mary or Caesar, you’ll need the following items to make your bar a success.
- Glasses or Mason Jars. Bloody Marys and Caesars are fun to drink out of mason jars. If you don’t have enough handy, tumblers will work fine.
- Swizzle or Stir Sticks – You don’t use a cocktail shaker to make a Caesar or Bloody Mary – you stir the ingredients to combine them. You can use celery sticks or carrot sticks or even pickled asparagus spears as stir sticks.
- Napkins – Spills happen, make it easy for your guests to clean up.
- Alternate Alcohols – While Bloody Marys and Caesars are traditionally made with vodka, you could use tequila, rum, bourbon, whisky, or gin for a bold, new flavor.
- Citrus wedges – try the usual suspects – lemons and limes, but also oranges and even grapefruit! Use the juice to wet the rim before using a rimmer. Lime juice is the most common juice but let your imagination go.
- Rimming dish – you need a shallow dish or a bar rimmer set that is wide enough for the glass rim to fit in comfortably.
- Rimmer material – Celery salt is the most common but by no means the only option. Popular alternatives include crushed up potato chips (try salt and vinegar), crushed up bacon, or Montreal steak spice. Salt is the key element –you could even use a fancy salt like Himalayan pink salt on its own. There are Caesar and Bloody Mary mixes you can use for rimmers but why not experiment and make your own?
- Garnishes – This is where you can get truly creative. Garnish your Bloody Mary with pickled vegetables (like asparagus, green beans etc.), fancy cheese, antipasto skewers, olives, celery sticks, sliders (yes, mini burgers) or even fruit. You can even go the seafood root and add shrimp, a snow crab claw, cooked skewered oysters or scallops. The sky is the limit! I have even had one with bacon, quail egg and a biscuit, perfect for brunch.
- Hot sauce – A selection of hot sauces will ensure that everyone can add a dash of hot sauce. Tabasco is a must but try some others too.
- Worcestershire sauce – some specialty food stores sell flavored Worcestershire sauces, including horseradish Worcestershire sauce. At the very least have regular Worcestershire sauce on hand and have some horseradish for those who wish it.
- Ice in a bucket.
Bloody Mary Bar Ideas
Your build your own Caesar or Bloody Mary bar will be the hit of your brunch party. The only limit is your imagination! How have you had it served up? Share with us your unique garnishes and bar ideas also.