You could hire a bartender or keep the bar cart constantly stocked with champagne. Or you could find a happy compromise for your next big shindig: Have your guests be their own mixologists. When it comes to inviting people over, we’re always looking for ways to shake up the usual format (see also: serving your appetizers in bowls made from gourds), and this year we think we’ve cracked the code with regard to cocktails. The gist of it: Create a host of nonalcoholic beverages beforehand that your guests can mix and match—and spike if they so choose.
For the Friend You Can Always Count on to Take Photos
Throw together a melon ball punch, to be served in your finest (and largest) glass bowl and topped off with some fruity white wine or soda. An Instagrammable treat for your artsiest guests.
Peel and cut melon into 1- to 2-inch-size cubes. Puree each type of melon individually in a blender (if it seems too thick, add very small amounts of water to keep the blades moving). Fill round ice molds with the melon purees, and freeze them overnight.
For the Friend Whose Go-To Order Is a Vodka Soda
Kick it up a notch with some Technicolor seltzers, which you can whip up in an array of your favorite colors. Serve with vodka or on their own; either way, these brightly hued beverages barely need any embellishing.
For a 16-ounce bottle, mix ¼ cup colored Italian syrup (like Monin) and 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Top with sparkling water, and you’re all set.
For the Friend Who’s on a Health Kick
Include a refreshing and simple option, like this two-ingredient, cucumber-and-coconut water drink. It incorporates something green, and you can easily jazz it up with a splash (or three) of gin.
For a base that serves four, juice one hothouse organic cucumber, mix with 2 cups coconut water, and serve chilled.
See more entertaining tips:
5 Festive Beverages to Bring to Dinner That Aren’t Wine
This Fashion Insider’s Dinner Party Essential Is a Grocery Store Find
The 5 Best Cheeses at Trader Joe’s, According to a Cheesemonger