Recently, we threw a cocktail party for about 30 friends. Hosting events like this is one of my very favorite things in the whole wide world. Now that we’ve arrived at the age where a lot of our friends have started having babies, seeing each other regularly can sometimes be a tricky business, requiring epic coordination of sitters and nannies and bedtimes. Getting 30 of my favorite people together at one time, in my living room, feels like a much bigger accomplishment than it did six or seven years ago. So when the stars align and it all comes together, I’m psyched. I want to make sure everybody has a fantastic time. And I definitely don’t want to miss my chance to catch up with everyone because I’m stuck behind the bar, slinging drinks all night.
The secret to making it happen: batch cocktails.
Making big batches of a few different cocktails lets you use super-fresh ingredients, like the strawberries that went into our strawberry limeade (with optional mezcal)—but without having to squeeze and muddle stuff all night. Once guests arrive, your only job as the host is to make sure that the bottles get refilled from time to time, and that the ice bucket stays full.
All-liquor cocktails lend themselves particularly well to batching, since you don’t have to worry about them separating in the bottle. And I love a good Manhattan. But since I also wanted people to be able to stick around for several hours without getting too sauced, I mixed up a toned-down, lower-proof version of the classic.
Sherry—a fortified wine produced in the Jerez region of Spain—clocks in around 18 percent alcohol. Amontillado sherries are rich and nutty, with great depth, so they work well in traditionally whiskey-based drinks. And since we’re in the middle of that magical, fleeting three-week window when cherries are available in northern California, I threw some fresh Brooks cherries (which are brighter and more tart than Bings) into the mix as well.
Muddle the cherries and macerate in sherry for 4-6 hours. Strain out cherry solids with a chinois and mix with vermouth. Bottle the mixture and refrigerate for 2 hours. Serve up or over ice.
Makes approximately 20 4-ounce cocktails.
Have you made batch cocktails for a party? Do you have a great recipe to share? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!