Vying for “host of the year” as your New Year’s resolution? Here’s a simple trick that will have your guests thinking you spent the entire night squeezing limes: big batch whiskey cocktails. The best part? These recipes can all be made ahead of time so you can focus on your guests rather than preparing their drinks. Craft these make-ahead cocktails and all you’ll need to do is set out a pitcher or punchbowl and add ice. Work smarter, not harder with these four batch cocktail recipes perfect for entertaining.
You can’t go wrong with a classic Boulevardier cocktail that’s a smooth balance of bitter, boozy and sweet. This cocktail dates back to the 1920s but is making a recent comeback.
- 10 oz. (1.25 cups) rye whiskey
- 1 cup Campari
- 1 cup sweet vermouth
- Orange twist, optional garnish
Directions: Stir together the whiskey, Campari and vermouth in a quart-sized mason jar. Refrigerate until ready to serve. To serve, pour 3 oz. into an ice-filled shaker or mixing glass and stir. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with an orange twist.
If you wanted to make a drink for a crowd, a julep doesn’t immediately come to mind. Swap time-consuming for simple in this batch-inspired version of the classic. Caution: this drink goes down easy.
- 4 black tea bags
- 24 oz. water
- 6 oz. bourbon
- 2 oz. fresh lemon juice
- 4 oz. simple syrup
- Bunch of fresh mint leaves
Directions: Brew strong black tea with 24 oz. of water and let it cool. In a pitcher with ice, stir in bourbon, lemon juice and simple syrup. Drop in mint leaves and stir. Garnish each glass with mint sprigs and lemon wheels.
From Here to Eternity
This big batch whiskey cocktail combines sweet flavors with a sparkling finish. We’d like to think even ‘ol blue eyes Frank Sinatra would give it a seal of approval!
- 1¾ cups rye whiskey
- 10 dashes Angostura Bitters
- 1 cup passion fruit syrup
- 1 cup lemon juice
- 4 oz. lime juice
- Pinch of salt
- Lemon wheels, for garnish
- Mint sprigs, for garnish
- Brut sparkling wine, to top
Directions: Up to 2 hours prior, combine all ingredients except garnishes and sparkling wine. Store in refrigerator. To serve, place large mold or block of ice in punchbowl, then add mixture. Garnish with lemon wheels and mint sprigs. As you serve, top each glass with a splash of dry sparkling wine.
Brandied Rye and Apple Punch
The subtle acidity of the apple pairs well with the sparkling wine, while the whiskey adds a hint of floral qualities. As an added bonus: this recipe can be served hot or cold.
- 4 oz. brandy
- 6 oz. whiskey
- 2 oz. Montenegro amaro
- 12 oz. apple juice or cider
- 10 oz. sparkling wine
- 6 oz. star anise syrup (recipe below)
- Raspberries, grated cinnamon, cinnamon sticks and 3 apple wheels, optional garnish
Directions: Place all ingredients minus the sparkling wine in a large punch bowl. Add large cubed ice and top with sparkling wine. Add optional garnishes. Serve in cocktail or rocks glasses.
Star Anise Syrup: Place 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons water, one cup of sugar and ¼ cup of star anise in a saucepan. Simmer for 15 minutes. Strain syrup into an airtight container and refrigerate for up to a week.