While there are certain cocktail formulas that lend themselves to summer gatherings, like the unfussy spritz or the OG crowd-pleaser, punch, there is only one hard and fast rule: batch ahead.
While most cocktails can be scaled up with ease, the simpler the better. Counter-intuitively, translating a recipe to large format is not simply a matter of doubling, tripling or quadrupling each component. Certain rules, like starting with the largest volume ingredient and factoring in dilution, will ensure any batched cocktail maintains the integrity of its single-serve counterpart.
From a tropical Negroni rendition to a rum and watermelon punch, here are 10 cocktails built for batching.
Created for his grandmother’s birthday, Brian Hawthorne’s Strawberry Letter began life as a convenient way to serve drinks to a crowd. “A punch is much better than individual cocktails at this kind of gathering,” explains Hawthorne, “because no one is stuck making drinks, but everyone’s glass is full.” Hawthorne’s crimson-colored concoction is a summery, sophisticated combination of gin, Lillet Rouge and strawberries, turned effervescent with sparkling wine.
Joaquín Simó refers to his Dear Prudence as a “roast chicken dinner drink”—meaning, he explains, that everyone is going to like it. The citrus-heavy punch combines vodka, lemon juice and grapefruit juice. “I just wanted something fruity and accessible,” says Simó. “Something eminently quaffable.”
Historically built on an arrack base, modern punches incorporate a variety of spirits from bourbon to brandy, or in the case of Erin Ashford’s recipe—both. To this double dose of spirit, Ashford adds dry Curaçao and Amaro CioCiaro before topping the whole thing with sparkling rosé wine.
Gary Hayward’s Ajax Punch, named after a patio bar at the base of the gondola on Aspen Mountain, features white rum with refreshing muddled cucumber and watermelon, topped decadently with sparkling wine.
In his Endless Summer, or a “Negroni on vacation,” as he calls it, Yanni Kehagiaras of San Francisco’s Liholiho Yacht Club combines the big three—Campari, gin, sweet vermouth—with an ounce of pineapple and shakes the drink, pours it over ice and, in a testament to his more minimalist approach to tropical drinks, goes garnish-less.
“The ‘spicy Margarita’ order reminds me of the ‘fruity Martini’ order of five years ago,” says Dan Greenbaum of Brooklyn’s Diamond Reef. “It’s easy for bartenders to roll our eyes at it because the order is now cliché… but it’s hard to deny that the combination works.” Greenbaum’s Mexican Razor Blade is a mix of cucumber, lime, simple syrup and tequila or mezcal. The basic formula for the drink—citrus-driven agave base, sweetener, some heat—lends itself to adapting, which Greenbaum encourages. “You can swap in agave nectar or honey as the sweetener,” he says. “If you have fresh chiles, you can throw them in there instead. Adding strawberries or other fruit can work well too.”
A shandy in a punch bowl, the Best of Both Worlds, Pt. 2 is Portland-based Teardrop Lounge‘s rum-infused ode to summer. Without the addition of Miller High Life, the drink would be a semi-tropical marriage of golden rum with lime and sweet-tart raspberry gomme (a raspberry syrup), but the beer topper turns the drink into a marriage of high-low.
Fresh basil adds clean, bright flavor and an emerald-green hue to the refreshing Rickey from Dorothy Elizabeth of New York’s Straylight. To infuse the gin, Elizabeth calls on the blender infusion technique for a fast track solution to a process that typically takes hours.
Everyone should have a house spritz—a seasonal standard whose proportions are known by heart and ingredients are stocked easily. This is ours. A simple riff on the classic spritz formula originally built to highlight Lini’s fruity, irresistible Lambrusco rosato, this has become a spring-summer staple for all of us. Gentian-tinged Cocchi Americano plays the bitter role, while sour grapefruit acts as a foil to its sweetness, simultaneously pumping up the volume on the Lambrusco. Built in a pitcher or portioned out in a wine glass, it’s a drink that embodies the spritz philosophy of being both beautiful and simple.