Here’s how we’d customize a spicy Bloody
Mary. Photo courtesy Arch Rock Fish
Restaurant | San Diego.
This has been a week of food bar suggestions for entertaining:
Breakfast/Brunch Food Bars
Lunch/Dinner Food Bars
Dessert Food Bars
Today we conclude with two ideas for a drinks bar and accompanying snacks.
FOOD BAR IDEAS: BLOODY MARY BAR
You have to think twice about a “mix your own” cocktail bar. Guests tend to over-pour, using too much liquor with resulting tipsiness, mess and expense. You have to “limit the exposure.”
Instead, pre-mix the drinks in three versions: regular, spicy and virgin. Pre-rim the glasses with seasoned salt (see photo). The guests get to customize their garnishes. The most versatile cocktail to do this with is the Bloody Mary.
Pickled Vegetables: cocktail onions, cucumber pickles, dilly beans, gherkins, peppadew, pepperoncini, pickled asparagus, pickled carrots.
Vegetables: celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, fennel, green onion, snap peas.
More: bacon, cilantro, lemon/lime wedges, olives, parsley, shrimp.
Provide condiments for those who want to amp up the cracked pepper, horseradish, hot sauce and/or Worcestershire sauce.
A lemonade bar can appeal to kids and adults—especially when adults have the opportunity to add a shot to their drinks. In contrast to our earlier advice about letting people “mix their own,” this is a controlled situation where, at the end of the bar, people can add an optional shot. (Be sure to provide shot glasses for portion control.)
Lemonade isn’t just for summer: Lemons are plentiful year-round, and lemonade fits in wherever cold drinks are served.
Provide pitchers of both sweetened and unsweetened lemonade, so those who prefer noncaloric or low-glycemic sweeteners can sweeten their own.
Or, you can make all of the lemonade unsweetened, and provide different syrups (with pumps!): simple syrup and two fruit-flavored syrups.
Fruit Juice: pomegranate juice; blueberry, peach, raspberry or strawberry purée.
Heat: Cayenne pepper and/or fresh ginger slices.
Herbs & Spices: basil, ginger, lavender, mint, rosemary, thyme.
Iced Tea: for an Arnold Palmer, regular and passion fruit tea.
Spirits: gin, tequila and/or vodka; Limoncello.
Sweeteners: agave, honey, non-caloric sweetener, simple syrup.
Garnishes: berries, cherries, lemon wheel, mint leaves, watermelon cubes.
Don’t forget the ice!
ICED TEA BAR
While lemonade is more versatile for customizing, an iced tea bar can work just as well. Provide pitchers of brewed, unsweetened black, green, herbal and flavored iced teas with your choice of fixings from the Lemonade Bar menu, above.
Customized peach lemonade. Photo courtesy Stasty.com.
Yes, do include lemonade for those Arnold Palmers!
How about some snacks with those drinks?
Create a customize-your-own-snack bar.
Candy Bar: This is a make-your-own party favor concept. You supply candy bags or boxes and guests fill it with their favorites. This is a nice way to end an event, too, by letting guests create their own party favor. Miniatures are perfect for this concept: individually wrapped, they keep things neat.
Popcorn Bar: Provide plain corn, cheese corn and kettle corn with savory and sweet mix-ins. Consider candy corn, Chex, chili flakes or cayenne, crumbled bacon, dill, chocolate chips, flavored oils (chili, garlic, truffle), grated Parmesan, gummies, jalapeño chips, M&Ms, mini marshmallows, mini peanut butter cups, mini pretzels, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, raisins/Craisins, Reese’s Pieces, shredded Cheddar, etc.
Trail Mix Bar: Provide sandwich bags or snack bags so people can blend their own, from a selection of raisins and other dried fruits, nuts, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, pretzel or sesame sticks, candy (chocolate chips, M&Ms, Reese’s Pieces and seasonal choices like candy corn or jelly beans), breakfast cereals (Cheerios, Fruit Loops). Check out our full list of trail mix ingredients.
FOOD BAR IDEAS: SNACKS
Now: Pick a date and start pulling together the guest list.