Cocktail Recipes: Drinks for a Spirited Dinner Party|
It is not easy to make drinks for a large group. Ask any professional bartender, and they will agree that the best thing to do is what we call “large format” cocktails. These are cocktails you can make easily in advance in batches and serve to guests without much work or fuss. Here are some of my tips on the best drinks for a dinner party for colleagues or friends.
No need for fancy bar equipment for large format cocktails. Instead, I suggest that any hostess invest in a few nice glass pitchers, an elegant way to serve these large format cocktails. If you want to take it a step further, you can buy a chic glass punch bowl from almost any nice home goods store or find a vintage one online or at an antique store. I prefer clear glass for pitchers and punch bowls so the guests can see what you are serving.
Taking a few extra minutes to gussy up your ice adds a nice touch to this type of cocktail. Fill your ice tray with water and place a berry or a mint sprig into each ice cube compartment and let freeze overnight. Serve your cocktail over these pretty ice cubes and your guests are sure to be impressed.
If you are using a punch bowl, a large block of punch ice is not only pretty but also functional. The larger the ice, the slower it will melt and the less it will water down your punch. Thus, you can put it in your punch bowl at the beginning of the party and enjoy chilled drinks all night without worrying about the cocktail being too diluted. To make punch ice, fill a plastic pint takeout container (or Tupperware) with water, leaving an inch or two of free space at the top. Add a handful of any fruit of your choice (berries, lemon slices or blood orange slices look the prettiest) and freeze for 14-18 hours. When ready to use, remove from freezer and let sit for about 10 minutes or run under warm water to loosen the ice. Slide it into the punch bowl and stir until the cocktail is chilled to your taste.
These drinks are intended to be not only easy to make, but affordable as well. The Elderflower Sangria and Pimm’s Cup Cooler are lower in alcohol, so your guests can drink more without worrying about getting sloshed. The beauty of the Spiked Arnold Palmer is its versatility: it can be made with most base spirits and still taste delicious.
- 1 750ml bottle Sauvignon Blanc or dry Rose
- cup St. Germain (an elderflower liqueur that is widely available)
- 4 oz (8 tbsp) Crme de Mure or Crme de Cassis (an affordable berry liqueur that can also be used to make Kir Royales when added to champagne or other sparkling wines)
- cup seltzer or club soda
- Assorted fresh berries, rinsed
Pour the wine, St. Germain and berry liqueur into your pitcher or punch bowl and stir. Add the fresh berries and top with club soda. Stir gently and serve over ice.
(Makes 6-8 drinks)
Pimm’s Cup Cooler
- 3 cups Pimm’s No. 1 (a British liqueur that should be available at most nicer liquor stores)
- 6 cups fresh lemonade* (if using premade, I recommend the Whole Foods 360 brand lemonade)
- 2 cups ginger ale
- 1 cup London dry gin (optional)
- Sliced cucumbers, strawberries and mint sprigs
Pour the Pimm’s, lemonade, gin (if you want more oomph) and ginger ale into your pitcher or punch bowl and stir. Pour into glasses filled with ice and place a cucumber slice, strawberry and mint sprig in each glass as garnish.
* Making fresh lemonade is very easy. Stir 1 cups sugar into 1 cups boiling water until dissolved (this is called simple syrup and is used in a lot of cocktail recipes). Let cool. Measure out 2 cups simple syrup and add to 2 cups fresh squeezed lemon juice (the juice of about 12 medium to large lemons). Stir in 2 cups filtered water and voil!, fresh lemonade. You can keep extra simple syrup in your fridge for up to two weeks and use to sweeten iced coffee or to make other cocktails.
(Makes 12-14 drinks)
Spiked Arnold Palmer
- 3 cups liquor of your choice (gin, vodka and bourbon work best)
- 3 cups fresh lemonade (if using premade, I recommend the Whole Foods 360 brand lemonade)
- 3 cups strong black tea*, cooled to room temperature (if using premade, I recommend the Whole Foods 360 brand iced tea).
- 10 dashes Angostura bitters (the most common brand of bitters; usually available in gourmet grocery stores or liquor stores)
- Lemon wheels
Pour all ingredients into your pitcher or punch bowl and stir. Serve over ice with lemon wheels for garnish.
* To make strong black tea, steep 6 tea bags in 3 cups boiling water and let come to room temperature or put in refrigerator until cooled.
(Makes 10-12 drinks)
If you have extra cocktails left over in your punch bowl or pitchers at the end of the night, don’t waste them! Remove any fruit and funnel the rest back into empty rinsed wine bottles. They’ll keep in the fridge for 7-10 days. Cheers!