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Expert tips for making cocktails for a crowd

If you are throwing a summer party, you will undoubtedly need to make a large batch of cocktails. By following these tips from cocktail master Andy Seymour, summer entertaining is made a little easier. Check out these fabulous ideas for making cocktails for a crowd, along with a terrific sangria recipe too!

Grand sangria

Cocktail master Andy Seymour of aka wine geekshares the art and science of making cocktails for a crowd with these terrific tips.

1. Make the most – then adjust:Like any recipe, cocktail recipes are guidelines, and even more so when making them in batches. Add a little bit less of each ingredient than the recipe calls for to adjust the final flavor. It should taste the way you like it (unless you know your taste preference is really sweet or sour), so play with the last bit of mixing to give yourself the leeway you need to make it perfect. And remember, you should always have certain aspects on hand, whether it’s additional simple syrup or lemons and limes. Think of these additives like they’re salt and pepper to a food dish – you always have that on hand to perfect the flavor, why not have something on hand to perfect the flavor of your cocktail?

2. Use fresh juice whenever possible:Spend a few minutes squeezing fresh lime and/or orange juice. The brightness that fresh citrus adds will change the cocktail immeasurably and you’ll be a cocktail hero!

3. Prep and make in advance:Cocktails can be made prior to the event in a pitcher or bucket, covered and kept in the refrigerator until the party begins – even several hours in advance. If you’re making Sangria, freeze the fruit the night before and this will act like ice in the drinks. Then when the party begins bring out one pitcher at a time leaving the rest covered and cold.

4. Have enough! Nothing is worse than having a great drink that everyone is enjoying, and then having to switch them over to light beer when it runs out too soon. For a three hour party plan on two to three drinks per person – especially if that is your only cocktail. Provide in moderation and never let anyone have too much, but make more than you’ll
need; you may need to sip one when you’re cleaning up that night.

5. Buy ice:It’s the easiest thing to forget and we always assume we’ve got that covered, but making cocktails requires an immense amount of ice: Ice to shake with and a full glass of ice for many cocktails, it’s usually more than we think. Buy enough ice to make 25 more drinks than you think you’ll serve, (figure an 8 pound bag should be enough for about 25 drinks). Note on bagged ice: It usually clumps up and is difficult to use. Before you open the bag, go to your patio or other hard area and drop the bag from about 1 foot off the ground 3-4 times. This will break most of what’s inside the bag back into the usable pieces we love.

One of the best cocktails for a summer party is Sangria. This recipe uses Grand Marnier, red wine and fresh fruit to create a wonderful summer cocktail. The pitcher sized recipe should serve 12 people, while the larger recipe is perfect for a big punch bowl.

Grand sangria recipe


  • 1 cup Grand Marnier
  • 1 cup seedless red or black grapes
  • 1 sliced and seeded lemon
  • 1 sliced and seeded orange
  • 2 apples, red and green, cored and cut into 1/2 inch wedges
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 bottle chilled Casa Lapostolle red wine
  • 4 tablespoons of superfine sugar
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 6 oz. fresh lime juice

Punch bowl

  • 2 cups Grand Marnier
  • 1 1/2 cups seedless red or black grapes
  • 2 sliced and seeded lemon
  • 2 sliced and seeded orange
  • 3 apples, red and green, cored and cut into 1/2 inch wedges
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 bottles chilled Casa Lapostolle red win
  • 4 tablespoons of superfine sugar
  • 4 cups orange juice
  • 12 oz. fresh lime juice


  1. Soak the fruit with sugar, Grand Marnier and cinnamon for at least 1 hour.
  2. Stir in chilled wine and orange juice.
  3. Add more sugar to taste, discard cinnamon sticks; serve chilled.
  4. Top of with fresh pomegranate or fresh figs if desired.

More summer cocktails

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