Drinks for 40-60 People

“Hey Erik, would you be interested in making drinks for a surprise birthday party for my wife Dec 15?”

Request: Drinks for a daytime party for 40-60 people on Sunday, Dec 15, 2013.
Requirements: Lonsdale, Bloody Mary, Whiskey Punch, Mimosa

“This seems like a pretty doable few drinks, as long as I get most of it done ahead.”

I have a job, and it’s a busy time of the year, so I will absolutely need to squeeze the preparation into hour segments on several nights before the event.

Proposal: 5 drinks, 2 drinks per person. Bloody Mary, Alton Brown’s Cape Fear Punch, Lonsdale, Mimosa. Yeast Carbonated Ginger Beer with Dark Rum or Bourbon. Orange Juice, Grapefruit Juice, Sparkling Water. Pickle garnish bar for Bloody Marys.

Pre-planning:

Portion planning! 1 1/2 oz booze per drink. 2 Drinks per person is 3 oz booze per person times 40-60 total of 120-180. Divide by the 4 drinks, means I need 32-45oz of each booze. Basically, a 1.75 litre bottle of each booze should be about right, handily. And let’s say a gallon of Ginger Beer and a gallon of Bloody Mary Mix.

Make sure I have enough Ginger, Sugar, and yeast to make 1 Gallon of Ginger Beer.

I want drinks to move quickly, Lonsdale and Whiskey Punch will be fully batched and just poured over ice and garnish.

Bloody will be a pour mix and vodka over ice, mix briefly, and serve, with self-serve garnish.

I can only really effectively make a half gallon batch of ginger beer at a time, so that will need to be done at home over two nights earlier in the week.

For the Lonsdale, instead of shaking the Lonsdale with Basil leaf, I will infuse Gin with Basil for 2 days.

Wednesday

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First Half Gallon Batch Ginger Beer, see Chance of Showers post for recipe, and double it.

I also had a panic attack about drink service for 60 by myself and called up a friend to ask if he might want to attend the party and help out if needed.

Thursday

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Second Half Gallon batch Ginger Beer.
Infuse 2 Bunch Basil in 1.75 litres Gin.

Friday

Make Bloody Mary Mix

To be honest, I’ve never worked in a bar or at an event which serves Bloody Marys. I also am not super fond of the drink. However, I do like Sangrita so I have an idea to cross the two drinks, but am not sure if I should go the more traditional route. I run the idea past a friend who gives me the advice, “There will be a lot of foodies there, right? You should be creative, that’s the one I’d want to drink!”

Pureed Chiles

Bloody Sangrita Mix

12 Guajillo Chiles
12 Cascabel Chiles
12 Chile Negro
8 Chile de Arbol
1 tsp Cumin Seed, toasted and ground
1 tsp Coriander Seed, toasted and ground
8 Whole Allspice, toasted and ground

3 Quarts Tomato Juice
1 Pint Pomegranate Juice
1 Pint Blood Orange Juice
1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
A little Rooster Sauce
Salt

Stem and seed the chiles. Cover with a plate and add water to cover. Bring to a simmer and cook until chiles are tender. Puree chiles in a blender with enough steeping water to loosen. Sieve pureed chiles to catch seeds and larger pieces of skin. Combine chile puree with spices and other liquid ingredients. Adjust salt and spice level using rooster sauce and salt.

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Make Cape Fear Punch Base

Alton Brown’s Cape Fear Punch is just a basic traditional Whiskey Punch. I will make the base and then dilute with sparkling water and sparkling wine the day of the event. The garnish is grated nutmeg.

Saturday

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Make Lonsdale Base

First, strain Basil infused gin off of leaves.

The Lonsdale is normally, 1 1/2 oz Gin, 1/2 oz Lemon Juice, 1/2 oz Apple Juice, 1/2 oz Honey Syrup, shaken with basil and strained into a glass.

Metric makes this easy: 1.75 liter Basil Infused Gin, 1 Liter Apple Juice, 500ml Lemon Juice, 500ml Honey Syrup, 25ml Sparkling water added day of event. Note, since I am chilling the base and pouring over ice, I am increasing the dilution with extra apple and a little sparkling water. Essentially punch-i-fying the Lonsdale recipe.

Sunday

Buy ice, basil leaf (Lonsdale garnish), nutmeg (Whiskey Punch garnish), Orange Juice, Grapefruit Juice.
Arrive at event.
Add sparkling water & sparkling wine to Whiskey Punch. Sparkling water into Lonsdale Punch. Pick Basil garnish. Cut limes for Ginger Beer Garnish. Set out Pickle selection for Bloody Mary Garnish Bar.

Rock & Rolla.

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Lessons: The Bloody Mary, Ginger Beer, and Lonsdales were complete successes, especially the Lonsdale Punch. I broke one of my cardinal party rules with The Cape Fear Punch, that is, never make something for a party which you haven’t made before. I figured that having made Whiskey punches before this would be a slam dunk. Unfortunately, the Cape Fear Punch had fewer partisans than any other drink that day. Perhaps the recipe could have used some tweaking, it seemed a little dry. Or maybe I shoulda just made Old-Fashionds…

In any case, I’ve worked at a lot of events this summer, and I felt like this one went pretty well.

On one hand, there was a fair bit of work and planning ahead, and serving out of spigots isn’t dead sexy.

On the other hand, I could walk away from the bar and chat with friends while people served themselves AND the drinks were super tasty.

Those aren’t bad things.