The Hooch Life

Pitcher Perfect Punch Recipes for Backyard Entertaining

Margarita Pitcher

Kick back with these five patio pounders for your next outdoor celebration.

With Memorial Day behind us, the summer outdoor entertaining season has officially begun. We love throwing a nice backyard BBQ, but once the ribs are done, we don’t always want to be stuck behind the stick, tending bar for a gaggle of our closest friends.

So what’s the answer? Pitcher drinks are the perfect way to leave your hands free to greet your guests. Prepare your pitchers before the party and when it’s time to drink, simply add ice and bring those bad boys outside. Your guests can help themselves and you’ll be able to enjoy the party yourself.

A Few How-To Tips

But in those hot summer months, the trick to perfect pitcher drinks harkens back to the days of yore when punches were the only way to properly imbibe. You’ll want your recipe to be slightly over-sweet and a little stout when you begin. The ice you add will dilute and soften your beverage. It’s the only way to avoid your pitcher becoming watery and tepid over the course of an afternoon.

What sort of ice should you use? We’re glad you asked. All refrigerator ice is too watery to use in a pitcher. Instead, the night before your party, fill a few loaf pans (9.25×5.25 or similar) with water and freeze them overnight. You might have to hack at the ice block a bit when it’s fully frozen, but you don’t want uniform pieces anyway. One large block and the punch will be gone before it begins to dilute your drink. Two small of cubes will dilute too quickly.

Now that we have our foundation out of the way, we’ve gathered together some of our favorite pitcher recipes from some of the best cocktail minds in the country.

Here are the recipes our bartender experts recommend for your next backyard party:
Quick and Dirty Margarita Mix
Peach Passion
Patriot’s Punch
Lawrenceburg Libation
Tastes Like Apple

Quick and Dirty Margarita Mix

(Recipe by Brad Melton for The Hooch Life — makes 1 gallon)

Have you seen the cost of limes in the store lately? Outrageous. Unless you have a license to purchase produce by the case, it simply isn’t feasible to make pitchers of Margaritas with 100% fresh lime juice. You’re in your backyard, remember? This recipe can be consumed as is, or tossed into a frozen Margarita machine to be distributed in brain-freeze form.

32 ounces blanco tequila (Don’t get fancy, especially if you’re freezing it. 30/30 Reposado or Sauza Hornitos will do just fine)
3 cans of frozen limeade
6 ounces fresh squeezed lime juice
6 ounces fresh squeezed lemon juice
6 ounces fresh squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup simple syrup
7 empty limeade cans of water

Mix all the ingredients together in a large pitcher or multi-gallon bucket. Those 5-gallon orange water coolers from Home Depot with the non-drip faucet are perfect for these.

Peach Passion

(Recipe by Robert Sickler, Master of Whisky for Diageo)

This simple but delicious seasonal recipe calls upon that perfect marriage of peaches and whiskey, with a bit of fresh mint for another layer of flavor. We guarantee this will be the first pitcher to disappear and the recipe everyone will be asking for.

10-1/2 ounces Black Bush Irish Whiskey
5-1/4 ounces Peach Schnapps
4 Peaches, cut into slices
25-30 sprigs of fresh mint
Soda water

Muddle all ingredients except whiskey in the pitcher. Add block ice and the Black Bush Irish whiskey. Garnish with peach slices and a sprigs of mint. Top off with soda.

Patriot’s Punch

(Recipe by Brian Melton for The Hooch Life)

This recipe was created specifically for the 4th of July, blending red, white and blue elements to create a flavorful and refreshing punch to be enjoyed while those bombs are bursting in air.

25 ounces Flor de Cana 4-Year White Rum
25 ounces Sauvignon Blanc
12-1/2 ounces blackberry syrup*
18-3/4 ounces hibiscus tea
12-1/2 ounces fresh lemon juice
4 whole lemons
8 ounces sugar

*Blackberry Syrup: Begin with 8 ounces of sugar and 8 ounces of water. Bring to boil in a large pot. Reduce to a simmer and add one container (6 ounces) of blackberries and muddle. Simmer for five minutes and then fine strain.

Begin by creating an Oleo Saccharum — the traditional way to start a punch – by using a vegetable peeler to remove the zest of 4 lemons. Add 8 ounces of sugar and muddle. Let it sit for an hour and then muddle again. This will extract the essential oils of the lemon, leaving a rich base for your punch.

Add all the other ingredients on top of the oleo saccharum and stir. Add block ice and garnish with blackberries, raspberries and lemon wheels.

Lawrenceburg Libation

(Recipe by Robert Sickler, Master of Whisky for Diageo)

Straight out of the hills of Kentucky comes this stout drink from one of the world’s certified Masters of Whisky. The richness of the bitter spirit and the bourbon is nicely complimented by the herbaceous rosemary and the tropical fruits. This is your Granddad’s patio pounder.

14 ounces Bulleit Bourbon
1-3/4 ounces Fernet Branca
3-1/2 ounces simple syrup
7 orange slice
7 pineapple slice
5 slices lemon
3 sprigs of rosemary

Muddle simple syrup, Fernet Branca, orange slices, pineapple slices, lemon slices in your pitcher. Add your large ice block, then pour in the Bulleit. Stir gently and garnish with pineapple, orange and lemon cherry with rosemary.

Tastes Like Apple

(Recipe by Jared Boller, Lani Kai, New York City)

The most-advanced of our recipes, this pitcher pounder from New York City’s Jared Boller is like biting into the Big Apple itself. The addition of Rosé Champagne gives this pitcher is an effervescent and eloquent quality that is sure to be a hit with the ladies in the crowd.

‎8 ounces Daron Calvados
4 ounces Dolin Dry vermouth
3 ounces homemade grenadine
3 ounces fresh lemon juice
3 dashes angostura bitters
top with Rosé Champagne

Add your large block ice and garnish with sliced apples and lemon wheels.

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