COCKTAIL RECIPE FOR A CROWD: SWEET TEA MARTINI

This is one of my favorite cocktails to make for a big crowd. Everybody- and I mean everybody loves my Sweet Tea Martini! It's easy to make in big batches and because you control the amount of sugar you add, you can control the sweetness and the calories, too. When you use juice as a base for a cocktail, you're adding a ton of extra sugar. When you use tea as a base and you brew it yourself, you can add as little or as much sugar as you see fit. I often use zero additional sugar if I'm using a citrus flavored vodka but if I use lemon juice instead, I need a bit of sugar to balance that out.

If you use store bought tea by the gallon, I'd suggest using unsweetened tea and making a simple syrup to add to taste. If you use sweet tea, you may find it is just too sweet when you add the Pama Liqueur.

Make the tea strong and do not dilute it with water so it isn't weak when you serve the cocktail over ice. Double, triple, or quadruple the recipe as required. This version will make 8-10 based on portion size when served over ice.

Big Batch Cocktails for a Crowd Sweet Tea Martinis

SWEET TEA MARTINI FOR A CROWD

INGREDIENTS

6 cups water

4 family-size tea bags (I use Red Diamond quart tea bags)

1/2 to 1 cup granulated sugar (optional- the Pama is a bit sweet so you can use as little or as much sugar as you like)

1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

1/2 bottle(750ml bottle) Pama Liqueur, chilled

1/2 bottle (750 ml bottle) vodka, chilled (you can use citrus vodka and reduce the lemon juice)

DIRECTIONS:  

Bring water to a boil in a saucepan; add tea bags. Reduce heat and simmer 1 minute; remove from heat. Cover and steep 10 minutes. White still hot, add desired amount of sugar. Stir to dissolve.

Remove and discard tea bags. Allow to cool completely.

Pour tea into a gallon container or into a serving dispenser. Add ½  of a 750 bottle chilled Pama and ½ bottle cold vodka. Use citrus vodka ifyou like and reduce the amount of lemon juice.

Serve over ice. Garnish with a lemon wheel.

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SIGNATURE COCKTAIL: BLACKBERRY MOJITO RECIPE FOR 2 OR 100

We had a request for a signature cocktail in plum and green. Well, I could think of nothing prettier nor more delicious than a blackberry mojito. You can find blackberries and fresh mint in storesyear 'round. A mojito is typically made one or two at a time. If you are serving these in a large dispenser, you will have to strain the mixture so the berries and seeds do not clog the spigot.  You don't have to strain the cocktail if you are serving in a pitcher.

Blackberry mojitos for a crowd

BLACKBERRY MOJITOS

For 2

INGREDIENTS

12 large blackberries

12 mint leaves

4 teaspoons sugar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

3 ounces light rum (you can substitute vodka if you like)

Ice

Club soda

Lime wedge, mint, and blackberries for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

Chill two glasses. Put the mint and the berries in the bottom of a cocktail shaker with the sugar. Use a wooden spoon to muddle (bruise) the mint and crush the berries. Add rum, lemon and lime juice. Fill with ice. Shake until well chilled. Put mint leaves in the bottom of the glass. Add ice. Strain the cocktail over the ice. Top with club soda for a little sparkle.


BLACKBERRY MOJITOS FOR A CROWD

Serves 50 (approx 4 ounce servings)

INGREDIENTS

5-6 pints blackberries plus some for garnish

4 bunches mint leaves plus some for garnish

6 cups sugar

4 cups cold water

1 1/2 cups fresh lemon juice

1 1/2 cups fresh lime juice

6-7 cups light rum (depending on how strong you want the drinks. This is based on 1 ounce per drink which is light. Add more if you like. You can also substitute vodka if you prefer)

Ice

2 bottles of chilled club soda (to taste)

DIRECTIONS:

Put the berries in the bottom of a container with the sugar. Use a wooden spoon to crush the fruit. Add the mint and gently muddle to release the essence of the mint. Add 4 cups of water and stir well to make sure the sugar is dissolved completely. Refrigerate and let sit for at least an hour. If you are using a dispenser with a spigot, you will need to strain off the mixture so the skin from the berries and the mint leaves do not clog the dispenser. Add the strained mixture to your dispenser. Add rum, lemon and lime juice. Fill with ice. Stir well. Top off with a bottle of club soda- to taste. Float mint leaves, lime wheels, or blackberries in the dispenser as garnish. Or thread berries onto a cocktail skewer and have those ready in glasses filled with ice. Then guests can help themselves to the beverage.

Martie's Tips: To make this easier, I usually just put the berries, sugar, and water in a large container. Then whir them together with my immersion blender. I strain off the seeds and any flesh remaining and am left with the juice.  

Often, I will chill or even freeze my drinks for a party so I need less ice and the beverages are not as diluted. For this one, you can freeze lime juice or lemon juice into ice cubes and use that in lieu of adding the juice to the recipe.

You can also substitute mint simple syrup instead of using sugar to make this process easier for such a large batch.

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RECIPE: BELFAST (IRISH WHISKEY) LEMONADE

There are a lot of green drinks and beer drinks out there for St. Patrick's Day... The cocktail I came up with features Irish whiskey so that's plenty Irish in my book. Plus this recipe got a big thumbs up from the guys and the girls alike making it perfect for spring and summer BBQ's, lake parties, and yes, even wedding celebrations. Since Bushmills, my favorite Irish whiskey, is made close to the Irish city of Belfast, I named it Belfast Lemonade. I used just a little Limoncello to smooth out the cocktail, but it is very good without it if you want to keep your cost down.

IRISH WHISKEY LEMONADE

Makes 1

INGREDIENTS

4 ounces fresh lemonade (fresh squeezed lemon juice plus simple syrup to taste)

1 1/2 ounces Bushmills Irish Whiskey

1/2 ounce Limoncello

DIRECTIONS:

Mix and serve in a tall glass over ice. Garnish with a sprig of mint or a lemon wheel.

For a crowd:

Serves 15+ guests depending on serving size

INGREDIENTS

1 gallon fresh lemonade

1 bottle (750ml) Bushmills Irish Whiskey

2 cups Limoncello or other lemon liqueur

DIRECTIONS:

Add more or less whiskey to your taste. Mix ingredients in a large dispenser. Add lots of ice to the dispenser but also provide clean ice along side the dispenser because the drink tastes best served over ice. If it is a hot day, make sure to freeze lemonade and use that in place of the ice so you don't water down or dilute the drink. Add mint or lemon wheels to the dispenser to add some color and style to the presentation.

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