Though the first day of summer doesn’t officially hit until June 20, Memorial Day Weekend is widely considered to be the beginning of the lazy, hazy, crazy season. The weather’s heating up, coats are coming off, and people all across the country are planning their first outdoor barbecue of the year.
Of course, no cookout would be complete without some booze, and that’s where we come in. When throwing a summer party, we can’t recommend enough pre-making a batch of cocktails the morning of or even the night before to serve right when your guests arrive. After all, who wants to be the person stuck in the kitchen mixing and muddling when everyone else is soaking up the sun and chowing down on ribs in the backyard? So, in honor of Memorial Day, and all the other parties taking place over the next few months, we rounded up five of our favorite big-batch cocktails that take the stress out of entertaining.
While toasting to the kick-off of summer, let’s not forget what Memorial Day is really all about — honoring the men and women who have given up their lives while serving in the US military. An American-inspired cocktail is perfect for the occasion, and while sangria historically hails from Spain, this recipe is pure USA. The combination of white wine, vodka, and berries makes for a cooling sip on a hot afternoon, while star-shaped pineapple chunks add a fun and festive twist. See recipe
Red, White, and Blueberry
Since we’re already on the patriotic track, let’s throw in one more for good measure: the Red, White, and Blueberry (pictured). Taking its cue from the classic mint julep, this recipe hinges on bourbon, simple syrup, and fresh mint, with a splash of club soda. The cocktail becomes especially appealing on a scorching summer day thanks to the tart juice of lemon, lime, and orange, plus ripe blueberries and raspberries. See recipe
The Perfect Margarita
When we think of summer, few cocktails call to us more than a margarita — and thankfully, they’re easy to make in advance, so long as you set aside the time to squeeze the juice. Forget using pre-made sour mix: The only way to truly have a margarita is to use only the freshest ingredients. Our take on the classic calls for silver tequila, Cointreau, and freshly squeezed lime for an end result that’s perfectly balanced instead of cloying. Just multiple the recipe by about 20 and mix together in a large pitcher, pouring over ice whenever you’re ready. See recipe
Double Cider-Bourbon Punch
When the sun starts to set on your party is the perfect time to bust out this double cider-bourbon punch. Both regular and hard apple ciders blend with bourbon, ginger beer, lemon, and cinnamon for a cocktail that’s equally refreshing for summer and warming as the evening cools down. The one downside? Numerous carbonated ingredients make this a drink-immediately-after-mixing kind of recipe, but it’s still an immensely easy and quick cocktail to make for a large group. See recipe
Of course, the beginning of summer also marks the beginning of watermelon season, and you’d be remiss not to take advance of the ripe and juicy fruit. Named appropriately, the Summer Hoedown tastes exactly like the season, made with fresh watermelon juice, maraschino liqueur, and crisp wheat beer. Multiple the recipe by however much you need and mix the juice and liqueur up to three days in advance. Pour over ice, top each cocktail with a few ounces of beer, and you’ve got summer in a glass. See recipe