The Super Bowl is upon us, and we all know that means drinking (responsibly, of course) with a group of friends. Per custom, the booze will likely come in the form of beer and not mixed drinks. Why? Well, (1) 'Merica; and (2) nobody I know wants to be stuck behind the bar or in the kitchen making cocktails while the game is on in the next room. Yet with a little planning, the beer can be replaced with a large, pre-made batch of drinks that actually taste great. (I'm not sure if they're less filling.)
An ice-cold bowl of punch is always a solid option for large groups and cocktail parties; but let's face facts—the Super Bowl doesn't exactly call for an authentic 19th century Chatham Artillery Punch made with Cognac, Jamaican rum, rye whiskey, Champagne and finished with nutmeg. Super Bowl parties are about comfort food and drinks. Chili. Nachos. Seven-Layer Dip.
Preparing a large quantity of what is normally a single-serving drink—or "batching" as us barkeeps call it—is relatively simple when done correctly. Start with the shopping list and multiply the quantity of each ingredient by the number of drinks that you will be serving (1-2 apiece for a light-drinking crowd, 4-5 for a heavy-drinking crowd). Also, when deciding how much to buy, some good rules of thumb are limes generally yield an ounce of juice each, lemons an ounce and a half, oranges three ounces, and grapefruit four to six ounces of juice.
Admittedly, here's where things get slightly more difficult—i.e., the more a recipe is scaled up, the more challenging it is to maintain the precise balance you've spent years perfecting. Nor do small amounts (a pinch, a dusting, etc.) always translate well to larger formats. As such, it's important to adjust a final batch to taste.
My go-to big batch beverage are margaritas, which I've brought to camping trips, Fourth of July picnics and Super Bowl parties for more than a decade. My batch makes roughly one gallon's worth, which should provide you with around 20 drinks for your thirsty friends. That should last through the first quarter.
Big Batch Margarita
6 cups Siembra Azul Reposado or El Tesoro Silver
2½ cups Cointreau
2½ cups fresh lime juice
2½ cups fresh lemon juice
2 cups simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water, continuously stirred in a small saucepan over low heat until clear)
4 ounces cold water
Mix ingredients together in a large container. When ready to serve, pour mixture into a chilled glass filled with ice. Salted rim optional.
Photo by Jeffrey Morgenthaler