Big Batch Booze: How to Make Cocktails for a Crowd

Wink & Nod restaurant in the South End.
Wink & Nod restaurant in the South End. –Essdras M Suarez/ Globe Staff
My Mai Tai (I wish.) —Scampo

Personally, for group gatherings, I’m a big fan of the Paloma — a simplified tequila cocktail that involves grapefruit soda, a squirt of lime, and a dash of salt. Pass the tequila and soda around the table and guests take turns refreshing their drinks as the night draws on. It’s by far the easiest and most dignified way to get your guests to get their drank on since the days of jungle juice.

But Fourth of July calls for a bit more fanfare. Big batch cocktails — not to be confused with punch — also offer the ease of self-serve with miles more class than your usual backyard keg. Here are three to give a go this Friday:


Barbarian’s Rum Cup

Courtesy of Curtis McMillan, Wink & Nod

Makes 30 servings

2 cups fresh lime juice

2 cups Orgeat almond syrup

1 ½ bottles Myers Jamaican rum

1 ½ bottles Monkey Shoulder Blended Malt Scotch Whisky

6 dashes Angostura bitters

Pour all ingredients into a punch bowl with ice cubes and stir until thoroughly chilled. Serve from bowl in individual cups.

Lydia Shire’s Mai Tai

Courtesy of Lydia Shire, Scampo

Makes 20 servings

20 oz. of Dark Rum (Myers Rum)

20 oz. of Amber rum (Mt. Gay Rum)

20 oz. of Light rum (Bacardi light)

7 ½ cups of Pineapple juice

1 ½ cups of Orange juice

¼ cup of Cointreau

½ cup of Orgeat syrup (It is NOT a Mai Tai unless you use Orgeat syrup)

Squeeze juice of 10 limes

Mix the ingredients in a large pitcher or glass punch bowl. Chill in the fridge, or in a jug or cooler on ice.

The cocktail can be made ahead of time, as long as it’s kept covered to avoid evaporation. It’s best to make it on the day of the party, if possible. Serve over ice in a rocks glass.

Serving tip from Lydia: As in ALL recipes, the person making it must trust their taste buds and keep adding whatever makes sense – more Orgeat if it needs to be sweeter, more booze if it’s too sweet (I always err on the side of more booze). My favorite “garnish’’ is to float extra dark rum on top. If you want to give it an added visual touch, I go for a pineapple wedge with the skin on, but it’s not necessary.


Batched Daiquiri

Courtesy of the team at the Hawthorne

Makes 32 servings

2 750 ml bottles of rum (The Hawthorne uses Bully Boy in the house daiquiri)

1 750 ml bottle of simple syrup (one part sugar to one part water)

1 750 ml bottle of lime juice (freshly squeezed)

Bitters to taste

Pour all of the bottles into a large container and mix well. NO ICE at this point. Once it is thoroughly mixed, use a funnel and pour the batched cocktail back into the 750 ml bottles you just emptied.

Keep refrigerated until you leave for the beach, house party, or event. When you leave the house grab a bottle of Peychaud’s* bitters and throw it in your bag along with a jigger of any size.

When you arrive and are swarmed with friends ready for your creation, pull out your jigger and bitters. Measure 2-4 ounces of daiquiri per person (depending on the glassware) add bitters on request (give your friends the option to alter their daiquiri just a touch), shake with ice and strain into a glass. Chilled coupes are nice, but Dixie cups hold a great cocktail, too.

*Note: Depending on the rum you use, you may want to try different bitters – such as Angostura with a darker rum.

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