Too Many Cooks: What Cocktails Do You Entertain With?

March 21, 2014

You'll be hearing from the staff at Food52 in Too Many Cooks, our group column in which we pool our answers to questions about food, cooking, life, and more. 

There's a reason everyone always ends up in the kitchen at a party. Usually, that's where the bar is.

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Cocktails can make or break an otherwise lively get together: they can turn a perfectly agreeable evening into one to remember, a low hum into a dull roar. When the drinks are flowing, the conversation's good, and the snacks -- better.

But, when faced with what to make for a throng of eager party-goers, we often end up scratching our heads: what drinks can you stir together easily that will serve -- and impress -- a crowd? With this in mind, we asked our team of fellow imbibers:

What cocktails do you entertain with?

How do you please a thirsty crowd? What can you pull together from your liquor cabinet last-minute? Tell us in the comments!

Jackie: Pimm's Cup! It's so refreshing, and especially delicious in spring and summer.

Lauren L: White wine sangria.

Karl: Lately, (bourbon) Manhattans. In the summer I make what I consider a Margarita variation, but there's probably a more accurate name for it -- tequila + lime juice + some sort of syrup.

Jenny: I scale this up for parties. 

JulieNegroni, always. But, the summer calls for Salty Dogs (I like them with gin) -- easy to make, easier to drink.

Merrill: Prosecco, or something else sparkling, with some kind of fruit purée or shrub.

More: Don't be caught empty handed -- we have everything you need for a spontaneous cocktail party.

Michael: I recently batch-made Boulevardiers for a dinner party of 6 by premixing ten of them in a bottle. The only thing I had to do when the guests arrived was stir two at a time in a cocktail pitcher, strain, and garnish. In the summertime, I like to go the punch route. Here's a summer punch I posted on Food52 in 2009!

Posie: I go for Palomas. For a classy version, I use tequila, grapefruit juice, and seltzer. For something a little less classy, and more delicious, I just use tequila and grapefruit soda.

Jojo: For spring and summer, whiskey sours with some mint and/or basil and a few splashes of fizzy water.

Christina: I love a good Campari spritzer on a summer day.

Lindsay-Jean: +1 for sparkling things, but when summer hits, nothing beats a good margarita, so +1 for those too. Though I do love a Pimm's Cup. And a Negroni. Screw it. +1s all around!

Lauren K: I make a huge batch of rhubarb liqueur every year and serve it at parties. Perfect with soda and/or prosecco. For brunch parties, I have a reliable Bloody Mary recipe and I let guests pick their booze of choice: vodka, gin, and tequila. Is it summer yet?

KenziNegroni negroni negroni

Danny: Old. Fashioned. That is all.

Marian: Negroni negroni -- negroni negroni (to the tune of this).

Sarah: I made a pitcher of the Southside at a dinner party the other week, and let's just say my friends have never been happier. 

Catherine: Unfortunately, I am not yet classy enough to possess a liquor cabinet, but on one cold winter's eve I did brew up a batch of Rooster Punch to great success. Based off a drink of the same name from the Red Rooster in Harlem, it consists of red wine, brandy, orange liqueur, and orange juice. Don't knock it 'til you try it.

Bea: My favorite drink in the world: a Perfect Manhattan by Michael Ruhlman.

Gabriella P: I made this Apple Rye Punch for nearly every party and holiday since October, and it made the endless winter slightly more tolerable. In summer, I do gin, Prosecco, Canton ginger liqueur, and maybe a touch of grapefruit juice. 

Tell us in the comments: what are your favorite cocktails to entertain with?

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • clintonhillbilly
  • Claire
  • ChezHenry
  • Count Mockula
    Count Mockula
  • savorthis
Julie Myers

Written by: Julie Myers

Perpetually hungry. Will travel for food.


clintonhillbilly May 25, 2014
Sidecars! They are fine premixed in a pitcher and you can set up a station for guests to sugar-rim their own glasses.
Claire March 24, 2014
Mojito's every time just make sure to change the mint and lime wedges out between batches! Another favourite on hols in Sorrento, Italy last summer was Vodka, Limoncello, crushed basil leaves with a spash of lemonade or soda or pretty much any spirit with blood orange juice!
ChezHenry March 23, 2014
A pitcher of perfectly chilled Belvedere Martinis, served with your garnish of choice, olives, twists or onions. Call over three guests and make them feel special. Repeat until all is good.
Count M. March 22, 2014
I like sangria or rum punch for summer, and a couple months ago I made a lovely gin punch (with rosemary syrup and orange juice) for a party. But I absolutely love a Southside Royale (like the Southside, but topped with Champagne). We've been known to serve those. Oh! And mimosas at Easter brunch.
savorthis March 22, 2014
I have recently made quite a few tequila cocktails mixed with lapsang souchong tea, muddled oranges, ginger and lime. We also have a tap in the kitchen that we hooked up again after 5 years. We have such a great collection of local microbrews available in 5 gallon kegs and we are then able to rotate the seasonals.
anntruelove March 21, 2014
The French 75 !
rachaelmr March 21, 2014
I live in the land of microbrews - I chew off my left arm for a roving cocktail party. But thank you for all the dreamy ideas...
rachaelmr March 21, 2014
I mean, I would chew it off, just to be clear.
HalfPint March 21, 2014
Margaritas because we have a prolific lime tree :)
aargersi March 21, 2014
Our approach: put a bunch of choices out - mix your own, grab a noodle (the big foam kind not the eating kind) and meet us in the pool for Bobbing With Cocktails.
Lindsay-Jean H. March 21, 2014
This approach is hard to argue with.
Bevi March 21, 2014
Champagne, whenever possible.