Party-sized pours are often mediocre affairs with lots of vodka, bad juice and a few pieces of fruit thrown in. But why should your palate suffer simply because you’re going big? That’s one of the hosting hang-ups our Spirits Editor Kara Newman set out to remedy in her new book Cocktails for a Crowd (Chronicle Books). Her other goal in finding the planet’s tastiest extra-large libations: Spend more time mingling and less time making drinks.
“It seems I was always getting trapped behind the bar at my own parties,” says Newman.
To ease the workload and still win over your partakers this season, Kara shares her favorite recipes and tips from her enviable research.
Part of this cocktail can be mixed well ahead of party time, but add the club soda and mint leaves just before serving. That way you’ll have maximum fizz, along with a fresh mint aroma, rather than wilted herbs at the bottom of the pitcher. For plain mojitos, omit the raspberries.
1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 cup superfine sugar
2 cups light rum
1 ⅓ cup fresh raspberries
2 cups club soda
1 bunch fresh mint, separated into sprigs
In a pitcher or carafe that holds at least 12 cups, combine the lime juice and sugar, and stir until the sugar is dissolved and the misture is translucent. Next, add the rum and then stir gently for a few minutes.
French 75 Punch
The French 75 is a classic cocktail usually made with Cognac, though gin is sometimes substituted come the warmer seasons, and for summertime recipe, that’s exactly the right call. Serve this crisp, fragrant and refreshing variation at your next brunch or any occasion that calls for toasting, like bridal or baby showers.
2 cups gin (preferably a London dry gin, such as Tanqueray)
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 ounces simple syrup
½ teaspoon orange bitters
4 cups dry Champagne or other dry white sparkling wine, chilled
8 orange wheels, for garnish
In a punch bowl, stir the gin, lemon juice, simple syrup and bitters. Just before serving, pour in the Champagne and stir gently. Add the ice (see next page for a cool ice options) and garnish with the orange wheels.
To serve, ladle into punch glasses. Serves 8.
Bottled Bobby Burns
This classic cocktail—perfect for Scotch lovers—is named for the famed Scottish poet Robert Burns, who wrote “Auld Lang Syne.”
1½ cups Scotch
1½ cups sweet vermouth (such as Carpano Antica)
2 ounces Bénédictine
8 lemon twists, for garnish
In a pitcher that holds at least 5 cups, combine the Scotch, vermouth, Bénédictine and 5 ounces of water, and stir well. Using a funnel, decant into a 1-liter liquor bottle or two 750-ml liquor bottles. Cap tightly and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, until chilled.
To serve, set out a bowl or wine bucket filled with ice. Shake the bottle to ensure the cocktail is well mixed, then set it in the ice so it stays chilled. Pour into coupe or martini glasses and garnish each glass with a lemon peel. Serves 8.
For a Better burn…
Two important points to keep in mind when making this drink for a large group:
>>> Since this drink is essentially all spirits (with no juice or mixers), it normally relies on melting ice to temper its sting. When super sizing it, you want to essentially pour in the ice-melt factor by simply adding a few ounces of water.
>>> The Scotch and vermouth are poured in equal parts, with just one-sixth part of Bénédictine. That formula makes it easy to mix up the cocktail in any size batch.