Whether you're hosting a few friends or a whole crowd, serving big-batch cocktails makes entertaining extra easy. Instead of being stuck behind the bar mixing and pouring countless drinks one at a time, you can set out frosty pitchers of make-ahead beverages so guests can help themselves while you get to relax and mingle at your own party. Plus, you can save money by using less spendy spirits in the mix and no one would be the wiser. I'll share smart tips for making big-batch cocktails and suggest crowd-pleasing recipes to try.
Dive into our entire collection of cocktail recipes.
Top Tips for Making Big-Batch Cocktails
Make-Ahead Moves: If your recipe calls for chopped fresh fruit or herbs (think sangria or mojitos), you can often prep the ingredients the night before and add them right before serving. (Do check first; some sangria recipes recommend soaking the fruit in wine overnight.) If your recipe needs a bit of the bubbly, add that at the last moment so your drinks stay fizzy. Recipes that call for fresh juice often have the best flavor if they're made the day of the party, but recipes using mixers can be made a day or two before the event since they are shelf-stable.
Shaken or Stirred? It's all about presentation when serving these cocktails. If you serve drinks from a punch bowl, add eye-appeal with a fruit-and-herb ice ring. Tip: Make the ice ring out of juice instead of water to keep from diluting the flavor as the ice melts. Some outdoor parties could require a different approach—large drink dispensers with taps and lids to keep out the bugs. The dispenser method also lets guests easily serve themselves and keeps the beverage area spill-free.
Chill Out: A hot day calls for cold cocktails, but putting ice directly in your big-batch cocktail container will dilute your drink as the ice melts (unless you're using frozen juice or fruit as ice cubes). Instead, offer a cooler of ice on the side, and let your friends fill their cups with cubes and pour the drinks on top. Keep garnishes like lemon and lime slices, strawberries, and mint leaves in bowls on ice, too, so they stay fresher longer.
Refresh and Refill: Keep extra ingredients mixed and in the fridge or in a cooler so you can refill the pitchers and dispensers as needed. You might even consider decreasing the strength of the drinks as the party winds down. You can do that with big-batch cocktails much easier than you could with individual mixed drinks.
10 Big-Batch Cocktail Recipes to Try
Ready to get the party started? Here are some of our favorite big-batch cocktails for fuss-free refreshment.
Don't use expensive microbrews in this recipe—not only would it be hard on your wallet, but their flavors might be too strong for this fun twist on a margarita. Mix everything but the beer the night before, then add your brewski right before serving for maximum fizz. Rave review: "Like others said, this is a STRONG recipe, but people raved like mad. I had to email the recipe to everyone that came to the party. Use a mexican beer, as someone else recommended." — Joy Brady Beer
Perhaps too easy to drink, cold and sweet grown-up slushies can pack a punch. This frozen cocktail is served with an ice cream scooper and topped with lemon-lime soda. Rave review: "I made these slushies for my girlfriends on a warm weekend night. We enjoyed them immensely! Lots of gossip and laughs and we all agreed that these were great summer drinks to enjoy." — CBERRY
Sangria is the perfect summer cocktail for a crowd—easy to make and beautiful to serve. For this version, you'll soak sliced oranges and mangos in peach schnapps and cognac, then pour in the wine and ginger ale at the last minute. Rave review: "This is a fantastic recipe! Served it at a bridal shower and it was a real hit. I did add red raspberries just because they looked so pretty. Next time I will make double!" — KCMCDONALD
Talk about pretty in pink! This photo-ready cocktail can be prepped a week before you serve it—because you're freezing wine and watermelon into ice cubes—and then blending it come party time. To make enough for a crowd, use the scaling tool on the recipe to adjust the number of servings, then print out your shopping list. Tip: No need to use premium rose for this cocktail; the watermelon and basil simple syrup bring lots of flavor. Watch the video to see how to make it.
Making mojitos can be a lot of work, but this recipe simplifies the process and still tastes great. Rave review: "These are simple enough that you could take the ingredients on a picnic or over to a friend's house." — Seattleite
This "hard" lemonade, featuring pink lemonade and moscata wine, takes only four ingredients to make. Rave review: "This was very good and a hit at the party we took it to (all gone). It is very sweet, but pairs nicely with spicy food. I would make this again for sure." — HOLLY9000. Love this recipe and want more? Check out these party ready lemonade recipes.
If you're hosting a brunch, you'll definitely want to be serving Bloody Marys. This spicy mix benefits from refrigerating it for at least eight hours to let the flavors blend. Or, let your friends make their own drinks with this DIY Bloody Mary Bar.
Somewhere between a mojito and a spiked tea, this adult beverage is a refreshing mix of brewed tea, orange juice, and light rum. Try different flavored teas to mix it up and add more or less rum depending on the kick you're looking for. Rave review: "Loved this! Very refreshing with just the right amount of sweetness...a definite keeper~YUM!!!! Thanks for sharing." — Christina
Instead of buying a ready-made sour mix, make your own to save a little money and control all the ingredients. Taste the mix as you prepare it, adding more whiskey for a stronger flavor. Rave review: "These were excellent. I made them for my friend's 21st bday and everyone loved them. Much better than using sours mix." — Amanda
What's a brunch party without mimosas? Mix all the ingredients for this classic brunch beverage ahead of time except for the prosecco wine, then let your guests top off the drinks with some bubbly. Rave review: "Unbelievably delicious! I didn't change a thing." — JUMPERGIRL1