Summer is prime time for fun backyard bashes, pool parties, and impromptu gatherings with friends. When hosting summer soirees, unique seasonal cocktails add a splash of fun and flavor.
But who has time to play bartender all night long? Mixing up individual drinks for a thirsty crowd can get tedious and time-consuming.
Make big batch summer cocktails ahead of time so they’re ready to pour. With a few pitcher drinks chilled and waiting, you’re free to enjoy the party along with your guests.
No need to miss out on the festivities while stuck behind the bar!
How Big Batch Cocktails Streamline Summer Entertaining
Big batch cocktails allow you to mix large quantities of drinks in advance. Rather than measuring, pouring, and garnishing each cocktail to order, you can make an entire pitcher or bowl full all at once.
This saves you from repeatedly measuring out each ingredient for every single drink. You’ll also avoid a pileup of used measured cups and cocktail shakers in the sink.
- Less time spent mixing drinks during the party
- More time to mingle with guests
- Simpler self-serve drinking for guests
- Lower chance of the bartender falling behind on drink orders
- Easier cleanup with fewer drink-making dishes to wash
Big batch cocktails are also budget-friendly. Buying ingredients like liquor and juices in larger quantities often costs less per ounce compared to smaller bottles.
You can also reuse garnishes like citrus wheels and herbs for an entire batch rather than making new ones for individual drinks.
Top Big Batch Cocktail Recipes for Summer
From fruity libations to refreshing spritzers, here are some of the best big batch cocktails for summer sipping:
What better matches summer’s juicy fruits than fruity, wine-based sangria? With dozens of variations, it’s easy to customize your own signature batches.
In a large pitcher or drink dispenser, combine:
- 1 (750 ml) bottle red wine
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1⁄2 cup brandy, triple sec, or rum (optional)
- 1⁄4 cup lemon or lime juice
- 1⁄4 cup sugar or simple syrup
- Sliced citrus, berries, peaches, etc. for garnish
Give the mixture several hours or overnight to chill in the fridge so flavors blend. Add sparkling water or club soda before serving if desired to lighten and dilute the drink. Set out the batch in a clear glass dispenser along with a ladle or cups so guests can serve themselves.
2. Tom Collins
The classic Tom Collins cocktail transforms perfectly into a big batch beverage.
To make a pitcher, combine:
- 12 ounces gin or vodka
- 12 ounces lemon juice
- 12 ounces simple syrup
- 48 ounces chilled club soda
Fill a pitcher halfway with ice cubes. Pour in the gin or vodka, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Top off with club soda and stir gently. Garnish with lemon wheels.
For a slushy frozen version, freeze the mixture in popsicle molds instead of diluting with soda water. Blend with more simple syrup and club soda just before serving.
What’s a summer party without margaritas? For bigger batches:
- Combine 32 ounces tequila, 16 ounces orange liqueur, and 16 ounces lime juice in a pitcher (feel free to adjust ratios to taste).
- Pour over ice cubes in a blender. Blend until slushy and frothy.
- For added refreshment, blend in some lime or lemon soda.
- Pour into glasses rimmed with salt or sugar. Garnish with lime wedges.
- For a frozen version, omit the soda and pour the batched blend into popsicle molds before freezing.
4. Moscow Mule
- In a large pitcher, combine 64 ounces ginger beer, 16 ounces vodka, and the juice from 4-5 limes or lemons.
- Mix in sliced citrus fruits like oranges, lime, or grapefruit if desired.
- Serve over ice in copper mule mugs garnished with lime wheels or mint sprigs.
For a lighter, more diluted mule, add soda water to taste. The ginger beer provides plenty of spicy flavor, so the alcohol can be lowered without sacrificing taste.
5. Piña Colada
Escape to the tropics with fresh piña coladas. Blend up a big batch of this coconutty creaminess:
- In a blender, puree 2 (20-ounce) cans pineapple chunks with their juices.
- Add 16 ounces cream of coconut, 12 ounces rum, and 12 ounces coconut milk. Blend until smooth and creamy.
- For thicker texture, use frozen pineapple. For lighter drinks, add more coconut milk or pineapple juice to thin down.
- Optional garnishes: pineapple wedges, maraschino cherries, coconut shavings
How to Store and Serve Big Batch Cocktails
Once your cocktails are mixed up in quantity, proper storage and serving methods help maintain flavor and presentation:
- Refrigerate for no more than 5 days. Cocktails with citrus juice don’t hold up more than several days.
- Freeze for longer storage. Many blended or extended shelf life cocktails can be frozen in batches.
- Dilute large volumes. Batches over 1 gallon may require water or soda to thin out the mixture.
- Give room for stirrers. Don’t fill pitchers to the brim so guests can mix in soda or ingredients.
- Set up a self-serve station. Provide the batched cocktails along with separate mix-ins, ice, garnishes, glassware, etc.
- Keep garnishes fresh. Swap out things like fruit and herb garnishes as needed.
- Chill glassware. Frost or chill glasses so drinks stay cold.
- Use interesting vessels. Punch bowls, drink dispensers, pitchers, and mason jars add flair.
- Add festive straws. Colored, striped, or fun-shaped straws dress up basic clear plastic.
- Infuse ice. For visual interest, freeze edible flowers, fruits, or herbs into ice cubes.
Frequently Asked Questions
What cocktails work best for big batches?
Great big batch cocktails include sangria, punch, margaritas, mojitos, mimosas, beer or wine spritzers, and blended frozen drinks. Avoid cocktails with egg whites, dairy, or citrus juices that won’t hold up long term.
How long do big batch cocktails last?
Properly stored in sealed containers in the fridge, big batch cocktails last 5-7 days max. Diluting with soda extends shelf life. Freezing pre-mixed cocktails allows storage for months.
How do you calculate quantities for big batches?
Plan for 2-3 drinks per guest. Convert individual recipes using proper proportions. Round measurements to the nearest 1⁄4 ounce for simplicity. Taste test batches before serving to adjust flavor balance.
What do you need for a DIY cocktail bar?
Set up a self-serve station with batched cocktails, separate mixers like sodas, juice or simple syrup, ice (ideally in a beverage tub), garnishes, glassware, festive straws, cocktail napkins, etc.
How do you keep big batch drinks cold?
Chill cocktails as low as possible, ideally between 38-40°F. Use lots of ice when blending and serving. Chill glassware ahead of time. Provide ice buckets for glassware. Infuse decorative ice cubes to keep drinks chilled.