Campari punch: it's a party starter (Photo: Malcolm Campbell)

Don’t bottle it: Drinks tips for summer parties

Whatever you do, don’t leave people to their own devices. (But do ask them to bring ice.)

People are always asking what they can bring to a party and your answer to that question should always be: ice. You can never have enough of it, and as the host you shouldn’t be expected to race out and buy some moments before your party is about to kick off. Unless you have a deep freeze in your garage, nobody has room for storing bags of ice, so I always ask two punctual friends and two notoriously tardy friends to bring a couple of bags each. If all goes to plan, the first lot should be running low just as the next batch arrives.

Waking up to a relatively tidy house the morning after a party all comes down to how well you organise your bar area. Leave people to their own devices and they will use every glass you own, slice lemons directly on your benchtop and quite literally get all up in your grill. Setting up a designated bar area – whether it’s a cheap trestle table outside, or a cordoned-off portion of your kitchen bench – means anything to do with drink prep stays in its lane. Set it up with glasses, buckets of ice, bottle openers, a chopping board, citrus, some big bins for empties and maybe even a Chux or two so people take the hint to keep it tidy.

Chuck a watermelon in the blender, strain, chill and mix with a generous slosh of ice-cold vodka and a squeeze of lime (Photo: Malcolm Campbell)

In this economy, nobody expects to show up and find a fully stocked bar. But if you are generously offering a cocktail, save yourself from being stranded behind the bar with a shaker by pre-mixing a big batch of whatever you want to serve and storing it in glass bottles so that all people have to do is pour it over ice, garnish with a sprig of herb or a wheel of citrus and get on their way. Summer fruits like strawberries and watermelon were born to be blended and mixed with liquor. I like to wazz up a watermelon the day before, strain and keep the juice in the fridge. Mixed with a generous slosh of ice-cold vodka and a squeeze of lime, this is the summertime drink I dream about all winter long.

If you want 130 fewer beer bottles to clean up in the morning, you should really consider getting a keg. Environmentally friendly, cost effective and definitely the most fun way to drink beer, all you need is 20 mates chipping in 20 bucks each to cover the costs. If you are having any more than 20 people over, hiring glassware is an entertainer’s dream. It’s not as expensive as most people think and in the morning – instead of having to wash every single glass, mug and anything that remotely resembles a vessel – all you have to do is stack those puppies back in their box, chuck them in your boot and send them back to party hire.

Cubes of melon frozen in ice cubes make a classy addition to a Campari punch (Photo: Malcolm Campbell)

CAMPARI PUNCH

Serves 8-10

This Campari and orange punch is the colour of a summer’s sunset and, with the added kick of vodka, is an absolute party starter.

  • ½ a rockmelon, cut into cubes
  • 3 oranges, sliced 
  • 1 litre orange juice
  • 500ml Campari
  • 250ml vodka

Put cubes of melon into ice cube trays with water and freeze until set.

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Fill a large jug with orange slices (reserve some for garnish) and bash around a bit with a wooden spoon to bring out some of the juice.

Add orange juice, Campari and vodka and mix well with the spoon. Chill until it is ice cold.

To serve, pour over melon ice cubes and garnish with an orange slice. Enjoy.

For more ingenious summer entertaining tips, check out the rest of the Backyard Bash 101 series


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