Cocktail veteran Julie Reiner, author of The Craft Cocktail Party: Delicious Drinks for Every Occasion, shares her secrets for easy summer sips.
Offer Wine and Beer.
You’ll need lighter drinks, too. Greek whites pair well with summer food. For beer, choose a variety with an alcohol content of 4 to 5 percent; it will quench thirst and is good for day drinking. Add a bucket of trendy canned sparkling wines—no glasses to clean.
To buy: Luau beverage tub, $100; crateandbarrel.com.
Keep Tools in Clear View.
Empower guests by having these: a wine opener, a bottle opener, straws, a strainer, a shaker, a bar spoon, a jigger, beverage napkins, an ice bucket with scoop, a bar towel for the inevitable spill, and a nearby trash can. Plastic cups are fine for casual gatherings.
To buy: Copper hammered bar tool set, $80; williams-sonoma.com.
Serve a Pretty Punch.
Use this ratio to get it right: one of sour, two of sweet, three of strong, four of weak. For a simple rum punch, that would be one part lime juice, two parts simple syrup, three parts rum, and four parts water. Fill a Bundt pan with water and put it in the freezer 24 hours ahead of time for a beautiful ring of ice that will keep the mix chilled.
To buy: Punch bowl with ladle, $50; cb2.com.
Batch Your Drinks.
Recuse yourself from bar duty with make-ahead, big-batch drinks (stirred ones, like margaritas, negronis, and sangria, are easiest). For simplest batching, change the ounce amount in your cocktails to cups to increase the servings from one to eight.
To buy: Cold drink dispenser, $60; crateandbarrel.com.
Build a DIY Station.
Don’t feel obligated to stock a full bar of liquor or make drinks to order. Put out standby spirits like vodka and gin with basic mixers (club soda, ginger ale, tonic) and garnishes (slices of lemons, limes, oranges) and let guests whip up their own cocktails.
To buy: Copper hammered cocktail shaker, $70; williams-sonoma.com.