From summer punches to spritzes, there is a spectrum of drinks that repeatedly find their way to summer gatherings. But what typifies the drinks that tend to congregate during this season? They are citrus-forward, easy to make and, most importantly, they are abundant.
Hosting ten? Easy. That ten just increased to 50? The consummate summer party drink welcomes the challenge, and asks only one thing: Batch ahead. And batch for double the number you think you need.
While a great number of cocktails can be scaled up with ease, there is certainly a type that lends itself to the batch treatment. Simplicity is typically what you’re looking for here. Tiki drinks, often sporting a lengthy list of ingredients in small measurements, will test your will. But a drink like Yanni Kehagiaras’ Endless Summer—essentially a Negroni on vacation that calls for Campari, gin, sweet vermouth and pineapple juice, poured over ice—is practically built to made in multiples.
But first, a few hard-and-fast rules to keep in mind when scaling up. When stocking your bar, keep in mind that there are about 25 ounces in a standard 750ml bottle. If you’re using two ounces of spirit per drink, one bottle will make about 12 drinks. If you’re using one-and-a-half, then it makes about 16 drinks. Second, according to Punch’s OG batch queen, Leslie Pariseau, go easy on the sugar. “It’s the hardest thing to adjust, so always start with less than you think you need,” she says. “You can always add sugar, but you can’t take it away.” And lastly, go easy on aromatic bitters when scaling up. Start with half the amount you’d use when multiplying the drink and add from there.
Another rule of thumb: If you’re batching drinks that have an effervescent component (you should), keep the bubbles on the side. In our go-to Punch House Spritz, we batch the two base ingredients (Cocchi Americano and fresh grapefruit juice), set up a little garnish station, cups and ice and let people build their own spritz, topping it off with Lini’s Lambrusco Rosato to ensure the drink bubbles over in all of its effervescent glory.
For Martin Cate’s minimalist ode to Don’s Mix, the Donn Day Afternoon, we take the same approach. Build the base of the drink (lime juice, cinnamon syrup and rhum agricole), set up a tiny army of Steigl radlers alongside a bowl of grapefruit peels and let your crew finish the job.
And lastly, when you’re dealing with drinks that require muddling and shaking with fresh ingredients, there are often shortcuts to getting the same effect for a crowd. For Dan Greenbaum’s tequila-driven Mexican Razor Blade (which is shaken with cucumber and topped with chili powder), muddle the cucumbers into the simple syrup and let sit for 30 minutes to better integrate those flavors, then strain them out. Combine the full drink into lidded containers—cambros for mixing the drink in bulk and plastic quart containers for storing—with the a dose of chili powder amped up to your desired level of spiciness, shake up the contents before pouring over ice and voila.
Same goes for Damon Boelte’s Yazoo Street Scandal, a mix of hibiscus syrup, ginger syrup, bourbon, mint, lemon and iced black tea. Muddling mint and swizzling for 20 people is a terrific way to ensure you do not enjoy your own party. So, instead, gently muddle the mint into one of the two syrups, let it sit and strain it out before building the drink in closed-top containers. Shake before pouring over crushed or cubed ice, and you’ve got, as Boelte aptly describes it, the perfect warm-weather “cross between the best sweet tea you’ve ever had and a high-rolling Mojito.”