Pitcher Drinks


Picture this: you’re enjoying a wonderful outdoor party. Great food and libations are flowing freely, laughter spills through the air, things are good. You notice one of your guests in need of a refresher, so you run back to the kitchen for another round.

Fast forward about 40 minutes. You’ve just burned 3,000 calories, your neatly pressed party outfit is covered in booze and sweat, and all of a sudden this party you’re hosting doesn’t feel like much to celebrate.

A major reason for summer get-togethers is to well, get together, not to spend time in the kitchen playing bartender.  That’s why pitcher drinks are the perfect solution.

I love a good martini, a freshly muddled mojito or caipirinha, a perfectly proportioned mint julep, but when it comes to quantity it’s just easier to subscribe to the "make-ahead-in-batches" school of thought. It works, it’s just as tasty, and more importantly  it keeps you out of the kitchen and with your guests. And I don’t know about you, but my mixing skills get progressively sloppier the more I’ve had to drink, and sloppy Matt equals bad cocktail and messy counter. Why go through the trouble?

An important thing to remember with pitcher cocktails is that they will be diluted with ice; this requires your basic drinks to be made a bit stronger in flavor than usual.  But don’t think summer sipping has to be super heavy like the rum punch pictured. Drinks lighter in alcohol are just as good and cocktails need not knock you off your feet with the first sip.

Here are a few of our favorites to make in large quantites when we’re entertaining. Or heck, even when I’m home alone!*

Basic Rum Punch
This recipe is the basis of a basic rum punch and can be modified based on your flavor preferences. It’s so basic and hard to fumble but be forewarned – rum punch hides a hefty kick underneath its sugary sweetness.

1 quart orange juice
1 quart pineapple juice
1 quart club soda
6 ounces of freshly squeezed lime juice
1 liter of white rum

Mix ingredients and taste for quantity. Keep tasting. Taste again. Sip some more. Why is the room spinning? Once mixed it’s best to refrigerate until ready. Serve over ice and garnish with maraschino cherries or lemon and lime wedges.  Are you sure you tasted it first?

White Wedding Sangria
This was served at our wedding last year and always delights a crowd, hence the name. Not that we have anything against Billy Idol…. It is fruity, sweet, on the lighter side and can be made more like a cooler if you increase the juice.  Frozen fruit is key here as it keeps the drink cold and stops from becoming too mushy in the liquid. Frozen pre-cut fruit works fine or you can do it yourself.

1 bottle of white wine, something fruity like Chenin Blanc works well
1 cup frozen diced peaches
1 cup frozen diced mango
1 red delicious apple, cored and cubed
1 lemon, thinly sliced and seeds removed
8-12 ounces fruit nectar (anything like peach or passionfruit or guava works)

Mix the wine and nectar in a large container, add apples and refrigerate for at least one hour. When you’re ready to serve add the frozen fruit, give it a stir and serve over ice. Garnish each glass with a slice of lemon.

Minted Vodka Lemonade
I never listened to those wise sages that said "Oh Matt, careful with all that mint in your garden and trim it back or you’ll be sorry."  Well who’s laughing now suckas? Ok, they are, since I have more mint than I know what to do with. But this is a great recipe no matter what. I’ve found that vodka is the most versatile spirit when entertaining and isn’t usually associated with those crazy stories like "Oh Matt I can’t have tequila cuz this one time in Cabo I –insert innapropriate act here–"  or "Gin? You kidding me? I turn into a — insert word here –".

1 packed cup of fresh chopped mint leaves
1 cup sugar
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cups of vodka

Combine the mint and sugar in a container and then pour in vodka and lemon juice. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours and then remove from fridge and strain the mixture into a new clean container. When you’re ready to serve pour over crushed ice and garnish with a few whole mint leaves.

I’m not a man of absolutes, but I’m going to put my foot down here. For heaven’s sake, do whatever it takes and splurge on a high quality vodka, please?  Sure, it’s an odorless clear distilled spirit, but the cheap stuff is a no-no and should never ever be used. Ever. Got that?

As with all these cocktails the key is continous tasting along the way. No, I’m not trying to get you drunk, but you must taste along the way. Now if you’ll excuse me I must lie down.

*I’m kidding! Well…sorta.


  1. says

    Good to see a new post Matt and love the new sight. These recipes have shown up just in the nick of time – we’re having friends over on Saturday night and want to do something more than wine/beer but are novices at the drink mixing. I look forward to making a round of each!

  2. says

    Is it wrong to want one of those at 1:35 pm on a Thursday??? *sigh* As always, beautiful job with the picts and post.

    Okay, I’m totally with ya on the vodka note. Yup. Agreed. Now…having said that, I’m going to try an experiment that’s been swirling ’round the net for a long time but I want to test it myself. It involves buying swill vodka (cheapest crap you can buy–I’ll probably wear a disguise when I purchase it) and running it through a Brita water filter several times. Self-proclaimed vodka “snobs” have said that they were floored with the results. I’m having a small party at our house in the near future and plan on taking copious notes. My guests (lab rats?) will be the judges. I’ll report on it as soon as it happens. I doubt it will change my vodka drinking habits (I’m a Belvedere and Chopin kinda guy) but I think it should make for a really fun get-together. I’ll let you know if anybody goes blind.

  3. says


    Is there any way you can have your party sooner than later? I’m so completely intrigued by your comment and now I can’t wait to see what kind of results it yields!

    Your guests won’t have to sign any waivers, will they?

    I can’t wait!!!!!!

  4. says

    Okay, and so my shallowness must come out first. PRETTY PRETTY glassware! I love the shape of those tumblers. Where are they from?

    …(the drinks don’t look half bad either!)

  5. says

    mixing ahead was the best advice anybody could have given me – so thank you! you told me to mix ahead before my swanky cocktail party in april, and it did keep me out of the kitchen, spending more time with my guests! that’s the whole point of a soiree – having a good time with your guests! otherwise, you might as well just be a caterer or a bartender.

    glad to see you back – great post, beautiful photos as always, and damn i could sure go for one’a them there white sangrias!

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