Ask A Bartender: Cocktails for Summer Entertaining

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Kyle Storm of French Louie in Brooklyn

Cocktails can make a party, but when you're hosting, you don't want to muddle or shake every drink to order. So we asked bartenders across the country: What's a great summer drink for a crowd?

Here's what they had to say.

"A good Bramble is an amazing summer cocktail. Muddling the fresh berries and lemon juice in each glass is what's right and proper, but there's nothing wrong with having a big batch ready. And if you decide you'd rather use some other berry, or some other fruit liqueur besides créme de mûre, or rum or tequila instead of gin, it's still probably going to taste pretty good. The classic is a cup of blackberries, 1 1/2 cup créme de mûre, 1 bottle (750 mL) gin (London Dry), and 1 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice. Muddle blackberries in 1/2 cup of lemon juice. Add remaining lemon juice, gin, and créme de mûre. To serve, stir well and pour 1/2 cup into glass, cover with crushed ice and stir. Serves 16." —Kyle Storm (French Louie)

"Make a simple and refreshing cocktail with tequila, coconut water, and pineapple. If you have some lime and add a little spice, it's a real crowd pleaser." —Trent Simpson (La Urbana)

"Paloma with Mexican grapefruit soda. Easy, fast, refreshing and a crowd pleaser. Tequila, lime juice, Jarritos Grapefruit soda. Garnished with a slice of grapefruit and pinch of salt." —Juan Sevilla (Soho House West Hollywood)

"A Moscow Mule! I have yet to find someone that doesn't fall in love with it, even if it is only until the next morning...You can make it easy with your favorite vodka and a good ginger beer (I like Fever Tree)." —Leo Holtzman (The Cocktail Collection at Tobacco Road)

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Maurice Taylor of The Spiced Pear at The Chanler at Cliff Walk in Newport

"White Sangria! You can make pitchers at a time and with all the fresh fruits available in the summer, it's beautiful to serve." —Maurice Taylor (The Spiced Pear at The Chanler at Cliff Walk)

"Pimm's Cups. I like making my with gin, mint, lime, and cucumbers top of with ginger ale. Has a nice complexity. Very refreshing and crisp and will definitely keep you cool in the summer." —Ray Anguiano (Atwood Café)

"I fill large punch bowls with Campari, sparkling white wine, fruit, and citrus juice. The Campari shines bright and each drink keeps you cool with fresh citrus and sparkling wine. The slightly bitter notes and lower alcohol content will keep your guests sipping and mingling late into the summer evening." —Chino Lee (Departure Restaurant)

"I use my French Standard, which is St. Germain, vodka (or gin, adds more depth), Lillet Blanc, grapefruit bitters, lemon, and sparkling wine. Just set it in a punch bowl and let the people serve themselves. It's light, refreshing, not too terribly complicated, so it can be batched easily and the home bartender can knock this out without breaking a sweat." —Elizabeth Powell (Liberty Bar)

"The Hemingway Daiquiri. White rum, maraschino, lemon juice, simple syrup and a splash of grapefruit. Light, refreshing, and very delicious on a hot summer's day." —Jon Feuersanger (Second Home Kitchen + Bar)

"A lemon berry punch is a great summer drink to make for parties. I prefer it with Bombay Sapphire gin, lemon-berry iced tea, lemon juice, mint, and sugar. It's good to batch ahead of time. Top with a little soda water before serving or if you're feeling bubbly, try champagne." —Shane McGrath (The Oakland Art Novelty co.)

"One of my favorite summer cocktails is a gimlet. Any kind of gimlet—gin, vodka, or tequila. Grapefruit vodka gimlets are my current fave." —George Donahue (The Treemont)

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Serena Herrick of Allumette in LA

"Something bright and refreshing, like a daiquiri or a gimlet. I always prefer using lemon and honey to lime and simple syrup as a slight variation on these drinks. Try infusing your base spirit with an herb or flower—I've been really into using grapefruit leaves and blossoms in Rhum Agricole to make a really elegant daiquiri. These drinks are easy and you can always lengthen them with soda water." —Serena Herrick (Allumette)

"I am a huge, huge fan of punches. You can't really mess them up. You basically need spirit, sugar, citrus, water (ice) and tea or spices. The good part of that is you can be as creative as you want. Tasting is key. It's great for parties because you can make something for everybody. One tip: top it off with Cava or Champagne. You'll be the hit." —Paul Sauter (Mercadito Chicago)

"Whenever I am batching cocktails for BBQs and such I go with a Gin Mojito. Simple, cost effective, and quite delicious!" —Ben Anderson (The Corner Office)

"Margarita, on the rocks, with salt. I'm from Texas and I know a thing or two about how to drink in the heat." —Claire Sprouse (The Square)

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Jaime Pait of E&O Asian Kitchen in SF

"A perfectly made dark rum daiquiri or Dark and Stormy always works for me—anything that makes you feel like you're poolside, even just for a little while." —Jaime Pait (E&O Asian Kitchen)

"You can find a variety of awesome punch recipes in Dave Wondrich's book Punch. You can keep it in one big, communal bowl, and you can vary it—using rum, vodka, whiskey, etc. My favorite consists of Broker's gin, Apry (apricot brandy), St. Germain, simple syrup, lemon juice, Twinings Lady Grey Tea (to add some water content and enhance the flavor), and angostura bitters. When served, I like to top each glass with a splash of champagne." —Riley Perrin (The Patterson House)

"White Sangria. I love using Spanish white wines like Albarino. I offset the sharpness of this wine with either white port or Choya plum wine. Infuse it with local fruits at their peak: stone fruits such as plums, peaches or gooseberries. My secret ingredient is a light syrup made with some of the fruit and loads of fresh summer herbs—sage, lemon thyme, or basil. Absolutely crushable." —Young Won (Rialto)

"The Paloma was originally made with tequila, but these days I make mine with Mezcal El Silencio. 3 parts Mezcal El Silencio (1 1/2 ounces, for one drink), 1 part simple syrup, 1 part fresh lime juice, 3 parts fresh grapefruit juice. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously & strain into an ice-filled Collins glass. Top with 6 parts soda water. Garnish with a pinch of salt and a grapefruit wedge." —Marcos Tello (Liquid Assets)

"You can't go wrong with an Old Cuban for summertime libations! Audrey Saunders of Manhattan's Pegu Club created this older sibling play on a Mojito: Amber Rum, mint, lime, simple syrup, Angostura bitters, Prosecco." —Jamie Buckman (Bookstore Bar & Café)

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Nate Howell of Jsix in San Diego

"I always say this, but a true daiquiri. Good white rum, fresh lime, and simple syrup. It's not too sweet, and extremely easy to make for parties!" — Nate Howell (Jsix)

"A Collins or Rickey. They start with light liquors (gin or vodka) and can be made as strong or as weak as the person would like (by just adding more or less soda). Simple straightforward recipe that can be made to order in less than twenty seconds." —Derrick Bass (Willie Jane)

"Gin and Tonics, of course! There are so many wonderful artisanal tonics available today. Get a bottle of Plymouth Gin and a bottle of Beefeater 24, bitter lemon soda and some Fever Tree Tonic. Cut up limes, some pineapple, oranges and grapefruit. Then get some white grapes, raspberries and blackberries. Put it all out with highball glasses and ice, and let your guests have a ball trying different combinations!" —Freddy Sarkis (Celeste)

"I like to make a pitcher or two of Negronis when I've got people coming over. Aside from the fact that it's one of my favorite things to drink, it's all equal parts (gin, Campari and sweet vermouth), so it's easy to batch out. Guests can just pour it over ice and it's ready to go. " —Rene Hidalgo (Lantern's Keep)

"When you are making a big batch of watermelon gin fizzes to take to the party, you just throw a bunch of watermelon juice into a big bowl full of gin 'til you can taste the melon, then add some lemon or lime to make it citrusy, and a little honey for brightness; mix it all up and funnel it into bottles. When you get to the beach or the picnic or whatever,  just add ice and soda water." —Dave Porcaro (Bigalora Wood Fired Grill)

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