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Behind the Bar: Pitcher Cocktails

Contributed by

This has been a long cold winter even in parts of the country where Jack Frost is a rare visitor. Finally, the mercury is rising and our thoughts are turning to backyard barbecues and pitchers of Margaritas and punch. But tossing together a big batch of cocktails is not as daunting as you might imagine.

First, you’ll need to get a large pitcher or a container that has a spout on the bottom, which makes pouring a lot easier. Next, multiply a recipe by the number of servings you want to prepare. It sounds easy, but you have to be careful with drinks like Margaritas that call for fresh lemon or fresh lime juice. Prepare enough juice to meet the recipe’s requirement, but you won’t use it all: Citrus juices are so concentrated that as the number of servings grows, the cocktail can become much too sour. To prevent this from happening, the juice should be added to the mix last and slowly. Taste the drink often and stop adding juice once the balance is correct.


To get you started, try my two easy recipes below, which can be made in big batches several hours in advance and refrigerated until needed. Drinks with fresh lemon or lime juice are best when consumed quickly and should not be stored overnight. When your guests arrive, you’ll simply shake some of the pre-made drink with ice. As always, use the best ingredients you can afford and go with fresh juices and fruit. But don’t get too ambitious and volunteer to make cocktails at your sister’s wedding—leave that job to the pros.

Margaritas by the Pitcher

Margarita by the Pitcher

Contributed by: Dale DeGroff


  • 22 oz Tequila
  • 14 oz Cointreau
  • 10 oz Fresh lime juice
  • 3.5 oz Agave syrup or simple syrup
  • Garnish: Thin lime wheel
  • Glass: Highball or Margarita


For this recipe you need a 52-ounce pitcher. First, add the fresh lime juice and then the Cointreau. Have a taste—it should still be a bit tart. You can add a little more Cointreau but not much. Adjust the sweetness with a little agave syrup (two parts agave nectar, one part water) or simple syrup (one part water, one part sugar) but don’t use more Cointreau, which would change the balance of the drink. Add the tequila and taste. The mixture should still be intense, because you haven’t added ice yet. When a guest wants a drink, pour 3 ounces of the mix into a shaker and fill it up with ice. Shake and strain it into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice or into a stemmed Margarita glass with a half-salted rim. Garnish with a thin lime wheel. If you have a large shaker or a gallon-jar with a screw-top you can shake a whole bunch of drinks at the same time.

Dale’s Rainbow Planter’s Punch Recipe

Dale's Rainbow Planters Punch Recipe

Contributed by: Dale DeGroff


  • 5 oz Myers’s Dark Rum
  • 5 oz Appleton White Rum
  • 3 oz Orange Curaçao
  • 6 oz Fresh orange juice
  • 6 oz Pineapple juice
  • 3 oz Simple syrup (one part sugar, one part water)
  • .5 oz St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram Liqueur
  • 3 oz Fresh lime juice
  • 3 oz Grenadine
  • 1 tablespoon Angostura Bitters
  • Garnish: Pineapple, orange and lime slices
  • Glass: Goblet or punch cup


Mix all the ingredients together in a large pitcher or punch bowl. Before serving, shake the drinks individually in a cocktail shaker with ice and strain into a large goblet or punch cup filled three-quarters of the way with ice. Garnish each drink with pineapple, orange, and lime slices. This recipe yields one liter and serves six people.

(Planter’s Punch photo courtesy of Geroge Erml.)

Master Mixologist Dale DeGroff is the author of The Essential Cocktail and The Craft of the Cocktail. He is also one of Liquor.com’s advisors.

Series & Type: TrendsBehind the Bar
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