Four Cocktails Perfect for a Crowd

By Seattle Mag May 23, 2013


With the long weekend almost upon us, we’re thinking it’s time to party! However, having a party isn’t much fun if you spend its entirety as the most stressed out host or hostess in the world. Luckily, serving good drinks for a big group isn’t hard. A great resource for creating crowd-ready beverages is Kara Newman’s new book Cocktails for a Crowd, which has well-tested recipes for groups of many sizes and an intro section full of tips and advice. Here, I’ve chosen three recommended recipes from Newman’s book, plus one from my book, Good Spirits.

Botanical Aperitif Punch (serves 8 to 10): This liquid starter, as Newman tells us, comes from Corey Bunnewith, the mixologist at Citizen Public House & Oyster Bar in Boston, and uses a lush honey syrup.

In a punch bowl combine:
10 ounces (1-1/4 cups) gin
10 ounces (1-1/4 cups) Lillet Blanc
10 ounces (1-1/4 cups) honey syrup
7 ounces (3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) freshly squeezed lemon juice and stir until thoroughly blended.
Add 1 ice block. To serve, ladle into coupe or martini glasses and garnish with a dusting of cinnamon, if desired.

For the honey syrup: In a small saucepan, combine:
6 ounces (3/4 cup) honey
6 ounces (3/4 cup) water and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thoroughly blended.
Let cool to room temperature. Store in a covered container at room temperature; it will keep for about 24 hours.

Alchemist Punch (serves 10 to 12): This herbal number utilizes one of my favorite liqueurs, Bénédictine. It also uses mandarin orange purée.  Newman notes that “Boiron-brand mandarin orange purée is excellent in this punch.”

In a pitcher that holds at least 11 cups, combine:
10 ounces (1-1/4 cups) warm water
1-1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) honey and stir until thoroughly blended
Stir in:
One 750-ml bottle (about 3-1/4 cups) Bénédictine
16 ounces (2 cups) mandarin purée
12 ounces (1-1/2 cups) freshly squeezed lemon juice

Then add 3 tangerines, cut into wedges and 2 lemons, sliced into wheels.
Refrigerate at least four hours to infuse the punch with the flavors of the fruit.
To serve, pour the punch into a punch bowl and add 2-1/2 cups ice cubes. Ladle into punch glasses or teacups.

Eureka Tiki Punch (serves 40): This is great for a bigger crowd. It comes from Martin Cate, owner of Smuggler’s Cove in San Francisco. “This can be served in several bowls placed throughout a party area or one enormous vessel,” says Newman.

In a small saucepan, combine:
20 ounces (2-1/2 cups) honey

20 ounces water

Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thoroughly blended. Let cool to room temperature.
In a container that holds at least 9 quarts, combine:
The honey mixture
60 ounces (7-1/2 cups) light-bodied aged amber rum
60 ounces (7-1/2 cups) freshly squeezed lemon juice
20 ounces (2-1/2 cups) Yellow Chartreuse
8 ounces (1 cup) ice water
1 tablespoon, plus 3/4 teaspoon Angostura bitters

Stir until thoroughly blended. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours.
To serve, pour the mixture into one or more punch bowls. Pour in 80 ounces (10 cups) ginger ale and stir gently. Add 1 large ice block or several smaller blocks and garnish with lemon wheels, mint sprigs, and edible flowers. Ladle into tiki mugs.

Don’t Just Stand There (serves 8 to 10): This one is super simple, but don’t be deceived by its beautiful simplicity—it’s also super tasty, and has been a party favorite for years. It actually traces back to at least the 1940s; I found it in Crosby Gaige’s Cocktail Guide and Ladies’ Companion (from 1941). In that fine book, Robert S. Allison Jr. says, “Here is the recipe that made Aunt Dinah’s quilting parties such a success.” To make your soirées as successful as Aunt Dinah’s follow this recipe:

Fill a large pitcher with ice cubes. Add:
One 750-milliliter bottle Applejack (about 3-1/4 cups)
One 750-milliliter bottle sparkling (non-alcoholic) apple cider to the pitcher, until it reaches halfway and no farther.

Stir well with a large wooden spoon.
Pour carefully into punch glasses or comparable glasses until everyone looks happy. Garnish each deserving glass with an apple slice.


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