Ask Tammie: What is a Good Party Cocktail?

I suggest mixing 5 types of liquor in a pitcher

Fruit punch in a large glass bowl. Drink with a variety of fruits close up. Orange alcoholic cocktai...
With the mostess

As we enter our first holiday season with a Covid vaccine, we return to welcoming people in our homes to eat and drink and exhale semi-freely. Since the only thing I love more than entertaining at home is helping my friends where I can, I asked my esteemed colleagues over Slack if they had any problems in that area that I could solve for them in the space of a blog post.

Like a ray of sunshine on a burgundy message board, Kelly Conaboy typed at 2:13 PM “what is a good batch cocktail to make that is well-liked enough and can keep well in, like, a pitcher or whatever, as a party drink option?”

Great question Kelly. Although most alcohol-drinking party goers have learned the gesture of bringing a bottle of wine to every domestic event they are invited to, a good hostess should still provide enough for a baseline buzz. But you also don’t want to commit to making every single drink based on the specifications of the random cocktail recipe you found on a seemingly reputable blog.

Instead of looking for the answer in something untried on the basis of the average rating of unverified voters, it’s good to stick to the classic drinks you know and love, but scaled up. That’s the best use of batching in my book.

Not every drink is good for batch treatment. Specifically, you should avoid anything with fresh citrus juice, which breaks down over time and gets bitter and cloudy. The best drinks to consider for these preparations are alcohol driven, like the Manhattan or the martini, for which I highly recommend you reference Dave Arnold’s technique.

But then I think about Kelly and how fun and funny she is and how she has probably had lots of Manhattans and martinis and so have her guests. So for something fun, carefree, and guaranteed to fuck you up fast, I think of a more lighthearted option. I think of Tokyo iced tea.

Tokyo iced tea is a Long Island iced tea that uses Midori melon liqueur instead of Coca-Cola. Here is a recipe from my friend John deBary. I asked Kelly if she likes Midori, and she said she doesn’t know, but I think she would because it is bright green and tastes like gummy bears.

A Tokyo iced tea

John deBary

The benefit of preparing a Long Island iced tea base is that it forces you to have almost every spirit handy afterwards: vodka, gin, rum, tequila, and triple sec. Even if people don’t like the drink you made, they can make something else.

Perhaps you read the recipe and noticed that it includes a portion of fresh lime juice, which, as discussed, is antithetical to batching. Here’s what I recommend you (and Kelly) do: pour a part of each spirit into a pitcher and stir, then prepare a separate pitcher of lime juice and simple syrup. Write the ideal proportions of the two mixes on some paper and tape it to the table with the drinks.

When possible, the host or a guest can whip up a round of drinks for everyone while all the stragglers can easily mix their own as necessary. The remaining fuddy duddies can make a gin and tonic or a vodka tonic or a vodka soda, but only after refusing a very enticing drink they would have never forgotten. But at least, in their own narrow-minded way, they will be satisfied, and you can rest assured that you have fulfilled your duty as a host.