The season of al fresco cocktail parties is upon us. Hosting is fun, but no one wants to miss their own soirée because they have to stand behind the bar the entire time. Here's where pre-mixed cocktails come to the rescue. We've put together a guide for mixing the perfect punch—and keeping it at the perfect temperature and dilution (since the combination can be tricky).

Pre-batched cocktails have a long history. Like many other old tipples, the inventor of large-format drinks known as punches isn’t known. But it’s first mentioned in print in 1632, and by historical accounts, the drinks only gained in popularity from there. As time passed, punches were eclipsed by the single-serving, quickly imbibed beverage now called the cocktail. For more history on the subject, check out David Wondrich’s Punch! The Delights (And Dangers) Of The Flowing Bowl.

For Use At Home

Many punch recipes are available online, but they aren’t your only option. You can also batch your favorite single-serve cocktail into a lovely pre-mixed punch. But try to stay away from recipes that call for egg whites, whole eggs, glass rinses, muddling, or blending. All of these take time to execute, and can result in inconsistencies in the texture, taste, or appearance of the cocktail.

Another factor to consider is citrus juice. Citrus is widely considered to taste best on the day it's juiced, so plan to make juicy drinks on the same day as your event. Drinks that don’t contain juice can be batched a few days ahead of time, as long as the batch is kept refrigerated.

Have Fun Doing The Math

One of the best parts of pre-mixing cocktails is taste testing the original recipe. Make it at home and tweak it until you love it. If it’s too sweet, add a dash of bitters. If it’s too bitter, back off on those bitter ingredients. By making it ahead of time, you ensure that you won’t be missing something crucial on the day of your party.

Now, do the math. How long is your party? Do you have other types of booze? How many guests do you expect will drink? Estimate that every drinking guest will consume one portion per hour, and multiply the number of drinkers times the number of hours.

Hit The Lab

Before you mix anything, choose a container that’s large enough to hold the entire punch. If it’s too small, keep the ratios the same, but halve the recipe. Also, check in advance to make sure you can use your ladle to serve punch; if the bowl is too shallow, you won’t be able to serve your cocktails very effectively.

For example, if your starting recipe for a Daiquiri is:
3/4 oz simple syrup*
3/4 oz lime juice
2 oz rum

Then for 50 servings of batched Daiquiris, you’d need:
3/4 x 50 = 38 oz (4 3/4 cups) simple syrup
3/4 x 50 = 38 oz (4 3/4 cups) lime juice
2 x 50 = 100 oz (12 1/2 cups) rum

Since each individual drink won’t be stirred with ice, it won’t be cold or diluted. Before serving, add approximately ten cups of water and stir to combine all ingredients. Serve over ice with a lime wheel garnish.