The warm weather is getting closer. Getting, well, warmer.
Our excitement over the uplifted mercury has us itching to entertain. Time to bust out the plates; start texting and emailing our pals; and, of course, give those cocktail glasses a workout.
In the interest of keeping things simple, we’ve calculated a formula for a spring-party cocktail that will see you through multiple hosting occasions with—most important—minimal effort.
Start by purchasing just a few essential ingredients: Cognac, peppermint tea, sugar and Angostura bitters. Then, plan one of three party scenarios, accessorizing the ingredients to fit your needs. Throw a patio or backyard party, and pour the cocktail ingredients over crushed ice for an improvised julep. Dress them up for brunch by adding Champagne and serving in flutes. And for a day in the park or on the beach, freeze the ingredients into a batch of slush, then pack it in Mason jars.
The best of spring—and a gaggle of some of your bestest drinking pals—awaits you.
Your Four Recipe Essentials:
- Peppermint tea syrup
- Granulated sugar
- Angostura bitters
The Backyard Blowout
The mint julep deserves love long after the Kentucky Derby has wrapped. But muddling mint for a party full of people is hardly enjoyable. Welcome to the wonderful world of peppermint tea syrup, which cuts out that meddling muddling. While bourbon is traditional in the mint julep, Cognac has deep roots in the South. Don’t tell anyone, but we might like it even better this way.
Backyard Blowout Recipe:
Additional ingredients: crushed ice and fresh mint
In a julep cup, add 2 ounces Cognac and 1 ounce peppermint tea syrup. Fill the cup halfway with crushed ice and stir until the cup begins to turn frosty. Pack the cup full of additional crushed ice, garnish with a mint sprig, and serve.
Outfit Your Party:
- Real-deal julep cups make all the difference. If you live in the South, you might be lucky enough to have inherited a set; if not, Cocktail Kingdom makes contemporary affordable versions. ($18)
- If you don’t want to invest in a three-piece suit, add seersucker to your landscape in the form of these brightly colored cocktail napkins. ($40 for six)
- In a pinch, you can make crushed ice by taking a rolling pin to a plastic storage bag full of ice cubes. But for consistency and control, the pros use a Lewis bag, made out of heavy-duty canvas. ($17)
Bridal showers, a lazy Saturday or just a craving for eggs Benedict: whatever your reason for hosting a weekend brunch, this drink will add an air of casual sophistication to the event.
Additional ingredient: Champagne
In a cocktail shaker, add 1 ounce Cognac, ½ ounce peppermint tea syrup, and 2 dashes Angostura bitters. Fill the shaker with ice and shake until chilled. Strain into a flute and top with Champagne.
Outfit Your Party:
- Pull menu ideas from the stunning new cookbook from Manhattan’s Buvette restaurant. Recipes such as Oatmeal Brûlée will wow your crowd. ($30)
- These tumblers have been popping up at restaurants as the go-to all-purpose glassware. Fill them up with water, juice or iced coffee as a brunch companion to your cocktail. ($22 for six)
- The new New Orleans–style coffee liqueur from St. George Spirits might be the catalyst for your next great brunch drink. Try shaking it with milk and maple syrup. ($33)
The Picnic in the Park
When it comes to drinking al fresco, nobody wants to lug a cooler of ice to the picnic. By adding water for proper dilution and freezing your cocktail ahead of time, the cocktail base acts as its own refrigeration, melting to the proper slushy consistency in transit.
Picnic in the Park Recipe:
Additional ingredients: frozen lemonade concentrate & ginger ale
In a lidded, freezer-proof container, mix together one 12-ounce thawed can of frozen lemonade concentrate, 2 cups peppermint tea syrup, 2 cups Cognac, 5 cups water and 1 ounce Angostura bitters. Transfer to the freezer and freeze six hours or overnight (the mixture should be firm throughout, but it won’t freeze solid). Scoop a few spoonfuls into Mason jars, then pack ’em up. When you arrive at your destination, top with ginger ale and serve.
Outfit Your Party:
- Mason jars are an ideal vessel for toting and sipping your cocktail in the wild. This limited edition American Heritage version adds a pop of color to your picnic. ($26 for a set of 12)
- Store your picnic in the newly released cotton canvas backpacks from Herschel, which are super durable and stain-resistant. ($150)
- That cobbler shaker you rely on for your nightcaps has a daytime purpose too: it’s a great to-go vessel for a lunch wrap, protecting your meal from getting squashed in the bottom of your bag. ($40)
- Biking to your destination? These sleek Nordic bike cupholders will keep your liquids from hitting the pavement. ($35)