Party-Perfect Batch Cocktail Recipes
As the temperature heats up, we're planning for days spent poolside with a thick book, salty snacks, and of course—cool cocktails. And everyone knows sunshine and sips are best when shared, so we've collected our best big-batch cocktails you can make for every occasion this season.
Spring Gin Punch
A simple formula makes perfect punch every time. Simply combine your favorite gin with a little sweetness, a little sour, and a lot of fresh flavor.
These refreshing big-batch margaritas using entire limes—peel, pith, flesh, and all—take food waste reduction to the next level. Just dump all of your ingredients into a blender, give them a good whirl, and strain into a pitcher for the easiest, and likely most delicious, batch of margaritas you’ve ever made.
Easy Margaritas for a Crowd
Look no further than these large-batch margaritas when you're hosting your next big fiesta and can't spend hours juicing limes. This margarita recipe is a revelation--the secret ingredient is a can of frozen limeade concentrate which, once emptied, doubles as a measuring cup for the remaining ingredients. These margaritas are strong, slightly (but not overly) sweet, and have the perfect note of orange flavor. Oh, and did we mention there's beer involved? We prefer to serve in a large glass drink dispenser with plenty of limes on the side.
Break out the punch bowl for a sparkly, citrusy, pineapple punch fun for a crowd. The original recipe is family-friendly, but this also makes a great spiked punch; simply substitute the seltzer for chilled vodka.
A sweet (but not cloying) precursor to the martini, this cocktail dates back to the 1880s. At Alfred's Steakhouse in San Francisco, the bar manager, Aaron Paul, scales up the booze and chills it ahead of time, so it's simpler to serve a crowd.
In one of the great culinary mash-ups of the year, this beer cocktail falls somewhere between a shandy, a margarita, and a radler. You can juice your own fresh grapefruits for the pitcher, or look for the fresh-squeezed cartons of juice in the produce section. Serve with a half-salted rim, if you’d like, or omit the salt for a straight-up refreshing sipper.
Summer Melon Rosé Sangria
Take summery rosé to the next level with elderflower liqueur, club soda, mint, and fresh fruit. For a playful presentation ready for poolside sipping, use a melon baller to scoop the fruit into bobbing orbs.
Cucumber-Lime Infused Gin and Tonic
A gin and tonic is the perfect hot day drink. This version gets extra cool with cucumber slices, lime juice, and lime peels. Make the gin mixture ahead or let stand at room temp 3 hours.
Raspberries and strawberries really brighten up the flavors in one this berry cocktail. Serve it up at a party for a perfectly summery and refreshing sip.
Thai Basil-Ginger Spritzer
Paired with peppery ginger, the anise flavor of Thai basil gives you a highly refreshing summer sipper. Look for kaffir lime leaves at Asian markets. If kaffir leaves are unavailable, simply omit. This recipe will also work nicely with fresh mint or cilantro sprigs instead of Thai basil.
Marionberries, an exceptionally juicy, slightly tart blackberry variety developed by Oregon State University, are perfect for this fizzy summer refresher. You can also use regular blackberries.
Orange-Infused Rum Gimlets
If you enjoy fruit and light, this refreshing summer cocktail is your new BFF. It's the perfect mixture of white rum, lime juice, orange liqueur, and sweet simple syrup.
The Negroni is a fabulously sophisticated cocktail for a warm summer night and satisfies with just one dose.
Sparkling Elderflower Lemonade
Elderflower liqueur is sweet, delicate, and floral, like nectar from a spring bouquet. It pairs perfectly with delicate sparkling wine.
Try a new twist on a classic margarita with watermelon and mint flavors.
Strawberry Hibiscus Cooler
Fresh strawberries and dried hibiscus flowers add a special touch to this cocktail. Serve with or without the vodka, because this sweet-tart drink deserves a spot at brunch.
Sweet Heat Arnold Palmer
The trick to layering beverages is to add liquids to the glass in order of most to least dense. We put most of the sugar into the lemonade (the denser liquid), so be sure to swirl before swigging.
Vera Kollans Cocktails
This drink is Greg Best's twist on the classic fizzy lemonade cocktail, Tom Collins. A splash of fino sherry and Triple Sec makes for the ultimate drink.
Blood Orange Mimosas
We love the color blood oranges give this classic brunch cocktail. A dash of bitters adds depth. Look for orange bitters--such as Fee Brothers or Stirrings--at liquor stores or specialty grocers. The sugar cube dissolves as you sip, balancing the bitters and giving off bubbles for a festive touch. Juice the oranges and keep chilled up to a day ahead.
This cocktail brings a little bit of everything to the glass. Slap the verbena leaves lightly between your palms before you garnish to release essential oils.
Season Creep Cocktails
For this drink, Greg Best uses yellow Chartreuse — an herbal liqueur flavored with saffron and honey. Substitute Strega, an Italian herbal liqueur, if you wish.
Retro Rum Punch
Simply stir together spiced rum, white rum, pineapple juice, cranberry juice, and ginger beer in a punch bowl. Enjoy the spicy mixture over ice with fresh fruit garnishes.
Sparkling Citrus Cocktail
Serve a company-worthy holiday cocktail made with three kinds of fruit juices, sparkling wine, and sugar.
Pear and Pomegranate Bellini
For an elegant and fruity cocktail ready in just 5 minutes, try this easy bellini made with brandy, pomegranate juice, and prosecco.
Sherry-Cava Citrus Fizz
From the Kitchen of a former Cooking Light editor, make this punch up to four hours ahead, but wait to add the cava until just before serving. He said, "I wanted the Spanish flavors of Catalonian cava and Jerez sherry to mingle in a holiday punch. The syrup, called an oleo saccharum, pulls essential oils from the orange peel and perfumes the cocktail."
Celery Gin Fizz
This gin cocktail blend is perfectly light and refreshing. Be sure to add leafy celery hearts for an enhanced cool, crisp sensation and a stellar presentation that will leave everyone buzzing.
Raspberry "Sangre" Margaritas
Serve this margarita for a party—you can make the raspberry mixture up to a day ahead, then simply add tequila and triple sec and blend with crushed ice before serving. Add a sugar rim and fresh raspberry garnish, and call it this summer's signature cocktail.
Grapefruit Elderflower Cocktail
Elderflower is the hidden treasure in this rum-spiked take on the traditional Salty Dog.
Strawberry and Watermelon Punch with Lime and Tarragon
You can buy strawberry puree or make it yourself: Blend 16 ounces thawed frozen strawberries in a food processor. Strain through a fine sieve; discard seeds. Serve this refreshing punch with or without alcohol.
Spiced Citrus Punch
It's not a party without punch! Orange, lemon, and pineapple juice collaborate with bourbon, nutmeg, seltzer water, and an unexpected player - chai tea - for a punch that tastes just as bright as it looks. Garnish with citrus slices to add extra tang and complexity.
Boozy Cherry-Basil Lemonade Spritzers
Instead of the fluorescent red cocktail garnish, fresh cherries take center stage in this refreshing sipper. Macerating the cherries in sugar first helps to soften their thick skins and release their juices, which become gorgeously syrupy in the pan. Make the basil and ginger-infused syrup up to a week ahead and refrigerate. Leave out the vodka for a virgin beverage, or try a floral gin if you’re not a vodka fan. If fresh cherries are unavailable, try frozen sweet cherries. For a little more flair in each glass, garnish with a lemon wedge and some extra fresh cherries in addition to the basil sprigs.
Cherry-Basil Lemonade Spritzers
This recipe originally appeared on Cookinglight.com.
Jungle Juice Mimosas
You might know Jungle Juice by one of its many other colorful aliases—Trashcan Punch, Hairy Buffalo, Hunch Punch—but you understand the gist. It's usually made in large batches in either a cooler or a (hopefully clean) trash can, involves the cheapest available booze, and is most commonly found at college parties. It's basically a method to get a large crowd of people quite drunk very quickly, one that might not hold as much of an appeal once you don't go for the sugariest or cheapest drink on the menu. Indeed the very smell of Everclear mixed with fruit-punchy Kool-Aid powder might send you right back to your freshman year. But here is something you may not have considered: Jungle Juice makes a greatmimosa.
Our recipe here is an amalgam of our pieced-together college memories, but this would probably work with any kind of frat elixir that you could come up with. We opted for a mix of peach schnapps, Everclear, Budweiser, and both Tang (because breakfast) and Kool-Aid mix, plus a smattering of fresh cut fruit, soaked overnight in true college dirtbag style. Then you take your Solo cup, or stemware, or mason jar, or coffee mug, fill it about a third full of Jungle Juice and top with cheap sparkling wine so it's suddenly transmogrified into a semi-respectable brunch beverage. As our associate editor Maxine put it, "I'm mad at how much I like this."
It's way better than it deserves to be, but beware: it's also pretty lethal. You can always dilute it somewhat by actually making Kool-aid rather than adding the mix directly to the alcohol. But where's the fun in that?
Jungle Juice Mimosa
This is a wonderfully festive beverage to open a dinner party: Sweet-tart pomegranate juice is balanced by bitters and spiked with vodka and fizzy rosé. Find pomegranate arils in the refrigerated area of the supermarket produce section; they’ll save you at least 10 minutes because you won’t need to pull the arils from a whole pomegranate.
Lemon-Gin Fizzy Punch
We prefer a more botanical-tasting gin like Bristow in this punch.
Spiced Orange-Bourbon Punch
Bourbon fans will love this light and fizzy drink. You can substitute ginger ale for ginger beer, but make sure to use freshly squeezed orange juice.
White Peach Sangria
Instead of a traditional red sangria, make a refreshing summer version with white wine and fresh peaches.
There's nothing more indulgent (and, we hate to say it, practical) than a big, boozy bowl of punch for a brunch! Punch is always a fancy to-do; moreover, it can quench the thirstiest crew. Sure, you could blow the bank on organic fresh-pressed guava nectar and a bottle of Dom, but our Paradise Punch is simple and still seriously tasty!
This effervescent, nonalcoholic mocktail refresher offers the perfect balance of floral, tangy, and sweet flavors. If you’d like to turn it into a tipple, try adding a splash of gin or vodka. While we call for dried lavender, if you have access to fresh, steep a few sprigs of it in place of the dried herb—and garnish each drink with a fresh sprig, too, for a lovely, fragrant touch. You can make the syrup and cucumber-lime mixture up to a day ahead; stir in club soda just before serving.
Perfect for any spring or summer gathering, this bubbly, refreshing rosé sangria is as easy to make as it is to sip. The fruity base of berry puree and vodka could easily be prepped ahead of time and chilled so that all that’s left to do is pour in your sparkling water and rosé right before serving. You could even prepare the sangria in single portions for more of a custom cocktail feel, having a small amount of puree, vodka, and fresh fruit ready to go in glasses when guests arrive; then, simply top each off with bubbly as needed. To switch things up, you could also substitute fresh peaches and/or raspberries in place of the strawberries used to create the puree. Try freezing some of the fresh fruits you plan to include (such as grapes and berries) beforehand in order to keep the beverage cool.
Salty Dog Slushes
The Salty Dog has no flaws, but turning it into a slush makes it the most wonderful and festive summertime cocktail ever. The bitterness, sweetness, salt, and booze come together to make a subtly sweet pink and frosty delight. You can even keep frozen grapefruit juice cubes in the freezer and whip a few drinks up to amaze friends (or yourself). If you’d like to experiment, this would also make a mighty fine granita.