There’s plenty to think about when you’re hosting a party, from curating the perfect guest list (and playlist) to ensuring that you have enough food and drinks for your attendees. Of course, you want ample time for mingling with your guests, a goal that can be derailed if you’re playing bartender all night.
That’s where batched cocktails come in. Large-format drinks and punches are the solution to getting stuck behind a bar stirring individual cocktail after individual cocktail. Make them ahead of time instead, and let guests serve themselves. You’ll be able to enjoy your own party, and no one will go thirsty while waiting for their next round.
These seven batched cocktails, including some from top bartenders, will keep you and your guests dancing the night away.
“I think the Mezcal Negroni is a fun cocktail to make in a large format,” says Kenneth McCoy, the chief creative officer of Public House Collective (the group behind Ward III and The Rum House in New York City). “Don’t forget to dilute the cocktail by adding water, as you won’t be stirring it. This will get you around 11 cocktails, depending on who’s pouring. Take a liter bottle if you have one (preferably glass). I also think it’s best to cool all of your spirits beforehand; keep the booze in the refrigerator before mixing, then batch the entire cocktail.”
“The Kitchen Sink is a template,” says Sean Hoard, owner of The Commissary and Super Jugoso in Portland, Ore. Here, he opts for reposado tequila, apple brandy and lager, but you do you. “Feel free to substitute ingredients based on what you have lying around. If tequila isn’t your thing, try rye in its place. If you don’t have honey, make a two-to-one syrup with maple syrup and water. Can’t have beer? Cider would taste great. If it sounds like it’ll taste good, chances are it will.”
If you’re craving a holiday punch that’s light and refreshing, Erick Castro has you covered. The co-founder of San Diego’s Polite Provisions and Raised by Wolves describes his Champagne Holiday Punch as “a blend of holiday flavors in a convivial and bubbly format.” It’s true: Genever, Cointreau, lemon, sugar, Champagne and bitters are quite convivial, especially when combined in a gorgeous punch bowl and displayed for your party guests.
The prettiest punches aren’t always the tastiest. But that’s not the case with this party-size number. With bourbon, Aperol infused with rosemary, dry sparkling wine, grapefruit juice and honey, it’s got everything you want from a large-format cocktail: fresh, seasonal flavors and bright, beautiful garnishes, plus a whole lot of bubbles to have every sip feeling festive.
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When in doubt, serve your drinks in a watermelon. No party guest can resist that. Because summer’s super fruit is more than just fruit. It’s also the perfect vessel for ladling out refreshments. This fun, seasonal recipe turns the juicy orbs into a boozy punch for two, adding vodka, fresh mint and sparkling wine for a drink that looks as good as it tastes. This particular recipe calls for mini watermelons, so you’ll want several to serve a crowd. Alternatively, you can increase the volume by choosing the largest melon in the watermelon patch. Or grocery store.
“It’s an autumnal mix of baking spice, apple and brown spirits,” says Jim Kearns, the beverage director of The Happiest Hour in New York City. “It’s served the way we make all of our signature cocktails at The Happiest Hour, by combining the secondary ingredients first and then allowing guests to pick their base spirit.” In this case, your choice of bourbon, applejack or scotch is mixed with fresh apple juice, lemon juice, cinnamon syrup and aromatic bitters. Multiply the proportions as needed to accommodate your party guests, or make a couple versions featuring different spirits.
Mix your crew a batch of New York bartender Julie Reiner’s Boat House Punch, and you’ll have a citrusy, bubbly crowd-pleaser. To make it, you’ll combine dry gin with fresh lemon, orange and grapefruit juices, as well as Aperol and St-Germain elderflower liqueur. The bubbly part is thanks to sparkling rosé, which lends refreshing effervescence to this perfect party drink.