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Our Favorite Make-Ahead Cocktail Recipes

Cocktail season is officially here! With the holidays come many gatherings, most of which you'll want to enjoy a cocktail at. What's a better way to surprise guests than with a ready-to-go cocktail that they can enjoy wherever you celebrate? Whether you're planning an event of your own or intend to bring a delicious cocktail as your potluck surprise, these gratifying make-ahead cocktail recipes are sure to get the seal of approval.

Making batched cocktail recipes is an excellent choice for a large gathering since you can do most of the work before the guests arrive. They'll get to enjoy a cocktail as soon as they walk in the door, and you can spend more of the party mingling and less of it in the kitchen. When making cocktails ahead, there are two things you'll want to focus on. The first is making sure that they're delicious, and the second is that they require minimal effort once made. Ideally, your guests should be able to pour the drink over ice and enjoy it. To ensure that your events and cocktails are a success this season, we've rounded up 4 of our favorite make-ahead cocktail recipes. From a margarita to a Negroni, these recipes are a sure-fire way to get the party started off right.

Negroni

Ingredients

  • 1 oz Campari
  • 1 oz Sweet Red Vermouth
  • 1 oz Gin

The Story Behind The Drink

The history of the Negroni is a bit of a mystery. And while cocktail historians may not know for sure how it was invented, the tale that pops up time and time again is that it was created at the Caffee Casoni in Florence, Italy, in 1919. The story states that Camillo Negroni asked his friend and bartender, Forsco Scarselli, to improve his favorite cocktail—the Americano— by replacing club soda with gin. Scarselli garnished the cocktail with an orange slice instead of lemon, and it became known as the Negroni and the entire bar's new favorite drink. Soon after, the cocktail recipe took off, and the Negroni family was the first to capitalize on its success by founding the Negroni Distillery in 1919 in Treviso, Italy.

Why We Love It

Made with equal parts sweets, bitters, and spirits, the Negroni cocktail paved the way for many popular cocktails today. A splash of sophisticated elegance, the Negroni is a refined drink that makes you feel equally as chic while enjoying it. While the bitterness is an acquired taste, when combined with the Campari, this cocktail is ideal for those who enjoy living life on the edge.

By making a big batch of Negronis ahead of time, you can keep the cocktails flowing all night long. Because the recipe calls for an equal parts mix of gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari making large quantities of it is extremely simple. To turn a Negroni into a make-ahead cocktail, first, choose a container you'd like to mix it in. An extra-large mason jar will work well when serving a handful of people. Next, scale up the original recipe by keeping the 1:1:1 ratio. Top it off with a few slices of orange to garnish, and store it in the fridge or cooler to pre-chill. Or, to serve right away, have guests pour the room temperature mixture over ice.

Craving a pre-made gin cocktail that’s a bit more refreshing than a Negroni? Try out our Eastside Ready-to-Drink Cocktail. Made with gin, cucumbers, mint-infused water, fresh lime, and cane sugar it showcases all of the natural flavors of gin to create a cocktail like nothing you’ve ever sipped before.

Shop our award-winning craft cocktails!

Manhattan

Ingredients

  • 2oz Rye or Canadian Whiskey
  • ¾ oz of Sweet Red Vermouth
  • A dash of Angostura Bitters
  • 1 Maraschino Cherry

The Story Behind The Drink

Much like the Negroni, there are many theories as to how the Manhattan cocktail rose to popularity. However, the period of the cocktail's creation is one that has newspaper evidence. In 1882 the Democrat newspaper remarked, "It is but a short time ago that a mixture of whiskey, vermouth, and bitters came into vogue." The one first credited for this mixture was Dr. Lain Marshall. And history states that Marshall created the famous cocktail recipe for a popular party held at the Manhattan Club in New York City. The party was being thrown by Lady Randolph Churchill, Winston Churchills Mother. Since then, this story has been somewhat debunked as Lady Churchill was pregnant with Winston and at home, rather than throwing an event.

Now, the more credible story is that a man who went by "Black" created the Manhattan Cocktail. It's believed that he invented it at the famous Hoffman House in New York City. But, no matter the story, the Manhattan Club still claims ownership of the recipe to this day, and it's now known (and served) worldwide as one of the most popular cocktail recipes.

Why We Love It

The Manhattan cocktail is anything but light. Instead, this cocktail is praised for strength that's coupled with a warm, feminine edge. Though it does have an underlying sweetness, as the ingredients mix, they amplify the whiskey base rather than soften it. This being so, one or two Manhattans is usually enough to satisfy, and it may be a bit too strong for those who primarily drink wine or beer.

When your guests are ready to settle down and grab something to sip on, few things are better than having a manhattan ready and waiting for them. Luckily, making Manhattans for a crowd is simple. Double or triple up on the recipe above and place it into the bottle of your choice. An empty wine or liquor bottle makes for an excellent Manhattan container and is a great way to reuse the items in your kitchen—just make sure they are thoroughly washed beforehand. 

Martini

Ingredients

  • ½ oz (1 part) Dry Vermouth or Vodka
  • 3 oz (6 parts) Gin
  • Orange Bitters (optional)

The Story Behind The Drink

Though James Bond is often attributed to the Martini's popularity, this cocktail has been around much longer than the movies. The story of the Martini regards that this cocktail is an evolved version of the Martinez, which itself stems from Manhattan. In the early 1860s, the Occidental Hotel in San Francisco was a popular spot to stop and grab a cocktail. Party-goers would then take an evening ferry to the nearby town of Martinez to continue the night. Residents of Martinez claim that a local bartender, Jerry Thomas, invented the cocktail for a miner who wanted to exchange a delicious drink for a gold nugget. Because Martinez, California, was the miner's ultimate destination, Jerry named the drink a Martinez.

Other stories claim that the Martinez was invented at the Knickerbocker Hotel in New York City before World War I or by an Italian Vermouth maker who started the brand Martini in 1863, named after its director Alessandro Martini. No matter where or by whom the Martini was invented, Bond gets the credit for addressing how to enjoy a martini—shaken, not stirred. 

Why We Love It

A timeless and classy cocktail, a martini never goes out of style—which is why it's made our list of delicious make-ahead cocktail recipes. Available in gin or vodka form, martinis can easily be customized to your guest's taste preferences. Additionally, the beauty is in detail when creating a martini, and what you choose to garnish the cocktail with says a lot about your style. Olives, lemons, and even pickled onions can be used to decorate this Bond-worthy drink.

While making a Martini is a reasonably simple process, making martinis one by one for your guest is bound to get a bit time-consuming. To ensure that the cocktail station at your event is hassle-free, make a large batch of Martinis ahead of time. Pre-batching, bottling, and chilling your make-ahead cocktails before the party begins will allow guests to effortlessly pour a delicious drink for themselves and keep you from having to bust out the bar kit.

Margarita

Ingredients

  • 2 oz tequila
  • 1 oz triple sec
  • 1 oz lime juice

The Story Behind The Drink

A mystery cocktail, while no one knows the true origin of the Margarita, one of the most popular stories involves a man named Danny Herrera. Legend says that Mexican restaurant owner Carlos (Danny) Herrera created the Margarita in 1938 for a beautiful Ziegfield showgirl named Marjorie King. King was allergic to nearly all types of alcohol, except for tequila, but didn't enjoy drinking it on the rocks. Danny quickly solved this problem by mixing in a bit of salt, lime, and liquor—creating what we now fondly call the Margarita.

Why We Love It

Just one sip of a margarita will take your taste buds on a rollercoaster of flavors. The salty rim, the slight bitterness of tequila, the sweetness of triple sec, and the sourness of limes create the perfect balancing effect. In addition, Margarita's taste great with almost every cuisine. Their icy and acidic nature helps cold down spiciness while complimenting high-fat foods like meat and cheese. 

Margaritas are the perfect pitcher cocktail. By preparing a large pitcher of margaritas ahead of time, you can skip the excessive shaking and stirring and quickly serve a crowd in minutes. Determine the ratio you'd like for your margarita recipe and begin mixing. Just be sure to keep the margaritas separated from ice until you're ready to pour the drink!

For a convenient, on-the-go cocktail recipe, try from one of our many flavored ready-to-drink margarita cocktails. Cold-pressed and made from natural ingredients, you can drink them in confidence knowing that they’re just as great as your favorite homemade version. 

Choose from one of the cocktails above, or try your hand at batch-preparing a different type of cocktail that you love. A great way to celebrate some of life's happiest moments, making these drinks ahead will free up more time for you to continue making memories all night long.