When you’re entertaining for the holidays, you want to present your guests with something delicious, timely, seasonal—yet easy to make. You scour social media for that winning formula. Page after page turns up gorgeously crafted, impeccably lit and perfectly filtered punches and carafes. Are they the work of a mad genius?
The reality is that much like brining that turkey or slowly simmering those greens, good cocktails aren’t hard, they just require a little commitment and patience. Fortunately, even a not-so-great drink will still give you a kick! Here are some tried-and-tested batch cocktail tips and recipes for Thanksgiving drinks that are sure to impress.
When creating shareable cocktails, it’s important to keep a couple of things in mind:
1.) Citrus goes bad, and will settle if you batch the cocktail too far out. Combine all your non-citrus elements first, and then add your ALWAYS freshly-squeezed citrus juice right before your guests arrive.
2.) Dilution is key—When you shake or stir a cocktail you’re adding close to 20% water, in the form of melting ice. With a larger batch it takes much longer to get to that point, so don’t be afraid to add water!
3.) Once you’ve got your cocktail to that perfect dilution point and chilled perfectly you need to keep it there. Freeze a few large blocks of ice in oversized ice cube trays, or if you live in a city with an ice company just contact them.
4.) Find a cool container for your cocktail—it doesn’t need to be a punch bowl, it could be a cookie jar, or a beverage dispenser or even a vintage martini and tea set. Garnish with thin slices of citrus, mint leaves, raspberries, even a couple of sticks of cinnamon.
5.) Keep in mind that this is for mass appeal—lower proof and more basic flavors work best for something that will be shared.
6.) The most important thing to remember: Have fun! If you’re stressed out and anxious your guests will be too. Remember…it’s just a drink!
Each of the below recipes will serve 6-10 people… depending on how much fun your guests like to have. Cheers!
WAR OF THE ROSES
- 12 oz. Pimms
- 6 oz. gin (London Dry, like Beefeater or Tanqueray, works best here)
- 6 oz. St-Germain
- 2 oz. simple syrup
- 8 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
- 3 whole sprigs of mint
- 6 oz. fresh lime juice
- 8 oz. water
Directions: Combine everything except for the lime juice about three or four hours ahead of time, and place in the fridge. Right before your guests arrive, just strain out the mint, add the lime juice, and add 8 ounces of ice water. Place in a creative container and garnish with mint leaves. Serve with a smile!
CRANBERRY MAPLE TODDY
- 12 oz. Carpano Antica Formula Sweet Vermouth
- 6 oz. cranberry juice (don’t get fancy—just grab some Ocean Spray!)
- 6 oz. maple syrup (grade B, and Canadian—always)
- 4 oz. good pear brandy (I like Clear Creek, out of Oregon, or Rhine Hall, from Chicago)
- 2 oz. fresh lemon juice
- 6 oz. water
Directions: You can make this one last minute—just make sure you get it nice and cold! Garnish with cranberries and cinnamon sticks.
MULLED WINE (Hot!)
Mulled wine is always fun to serve—it’s easy, holds well, and is usually a pretty familiar flavor in a lot of cultures. The best part is you can make this a few days ahead and keep it in the fridge, then just pop it into an electric kettle to hold at the right temperature. Just remember to serve this in mugs with handles!
- 2 bottles red wine (something medium-bodied and fruity, like a zinfandel or merlot)
- 5 cup loosely packed brown sugar (adjust sugar to taste)
- 4 sticks cinnamon
- 4 pods green cardamom, cracked
- 4 pods star anise
- 10 whole allspice
- 15 whole cloves
- ¼ cup raisins
- one whole orange, sliced into wheels
- 2 oz. brandy or bourbon, reserved
Directions: Combine all ingredients (except the brandy or bourbon) in a saucepan and very gently bring to a bare simmer. Don’t let it boil! Once it comes to a bare simmer turn the heat off and let everything sit at room temperature for an hour, then pour unstrained into a large Ziploc bag or 2 quart containers.
When you’re ready to serve, strain everything, add 2 oz. brandy or bourbon, and pour the mixture into an electric kettle and turn the heat on. Serve in a mug with an orange slice and cinnamon stick.