Pitcher perfect: 10 thirst-quenching jug-based cocktails from top bartenders

Liam Davy, head of bars at Hawksmoor Restaurants, nationwide

This is a delicious, summery version of a tom collins. Start by making a honey and camomile gin using 700ml gin (we recommend Fords or Hepple) and adding 20g of camomile flowers (or 4 camomile teabags). Leave for half an hour to infuse, then remove the camomile and stir in 250ml runny honey. It gives it a nice, soothing flavour. Then, mix with 150ml fino or manzanilla sherry (such as Tío Pepe), 75ml lemon juice and 300ml soda or sparkling water in a pitcher – no need to shake. Add ice cubes, as well as lemon and cucumber wheels, before serving.

Missy Flynn, co-founder of Rita’s, London

This is usually a soft drink – iced tea and lemonade – but it makes a nice, light cocktail that has its roots in Americana. Put 2 sliced, fresh peaches (or 1 tin peaches with the syrup strained), 1 lemon (sliced), 125ml vodka (we use Tito’s) and 2 tsp caster sugar into a jug and leave to mingle at room temperature for up to three hours. Make a strong cup (about 100ml) of breakfast tea (or go with a lapsang for a smoky flavour) and leave to cool before adding to the jug along with 75ml peach liqueur. Stir, then top with cloudy lemonade such as San Pellegrino. Add 8-10 tarragon leaves and mix before pouring; serves four.

Oliver Kaviani, bar manager of JÖRO, Sheffield

It’s super-simple: take 500g fresh pineapple, 5 makrut lime leaves, 50g sugar and 2 litres of water. Blend half the water with all the other ingredients until smooth, then pour through a sieve. Then, add the remaining water to the mix, and pour over ice in your pitcher. If you want an alcoholic version, this is also a good base for rum, tequila or mezcal. This drink goes well with Thai cuisine – anything that has an aromatic spice to it, as it will be balanced out nicely against the sweetness of the pineapple.

Max Venning, co-owner of Top Cuvée and Three Sheets, London

This is an easy drink to knock up ahead of an evening occasion, and those who enjoy the grown-up flavour of pastis will absolutely adore it. If pear is not your favourite flavour, another fruit liqueur can be used – peach or apricot work well. Mix 350ml vodka with 100ml pear liqueur, 100ml 2:1 sugar syrup, 20ml pastis and 285ml fresh lemon juice in a jug and chill for up to 24 hours. To serve, pour over ice then top up each drink with soda water, or ginger beer for a fun bit of spice. Pair with picnic foods: cold cuts, terrines, bread and dips – it’s a great aperitif.

Gordy McIntyre, co-founder of Hicce, London

This is a fresh and easy twist on the southside cocktail using Villa Ascenti gin from the Piemonte region. To make a pitcher for four, you need 160ml gin, 80ml lime juice, 80ml sugar syrup and 160ml fresh mint tea, which you brew in advance then leave to cool. We sell this on draught as it scales up nicely without losing any flavour. It stays strong and zesty – perfect for summer. Serve with a sprig of mint and thyme.

Thom Smyth, group bars manager, Garden House (opening in July), Cambridge

This cocktail is inspired by the annual strawberry fair in Cambridge. Combine 200ml aged rum (I use Havana Añejo Especial), with 40ml Merlet Fraise (or other strawberry liqueur), 1,200ml pineapple juice, 80ml lemon juice, 40ml ginger cordial, and a dash of absinthe in a jug, with ice. Mix well, then pour into four glasses garnished with a wedge of pineapple and half a strawberry. You can make your own ginger cordial by combining 250g caster sugar, 250g of water and a few slices of fresh ginger, and bringing to a simmer. Strain off the ginger and leave to cool before using.

Jay Hardy, cocktail bar supervisor, Society, Manchester

Some people aren’t keen on whisky, but the fruitiness of this cocktail makes it a much more approachable drink. It’s one part whisky – we use Woodford Reserve – one part mango (or passion fruit) liqueur, one part orange juice, half a part lemon juice and half a part passion fruit syrup (or you can use grenadine). Pop it all in a pitcher with some ice, give it a good stir, then top with prosecco. You can add a little soda water, too, to lighten it up. Garnish with orange slices, stirred through before serving.

Jazmine Quigley, shift leader, The Lock Tavern, London

Start with 200ml sloe gin – I like to use Sipsmith, but a lot of people have been making their own during lockdown. Muddle a handful of blackberries and lemon wedges in the pitcher jug, then add ice and pour over the gin. Top up the pitcher with either lemonade or soda water, based on how sweet you like it. I tend to throw in a few extra lemon slices too, to make it more aesthetically pleasing. Then simply stir and serve. This is a really refreshing cocktail, ideal for daytime drinking; I’d have it with a light meal, like a sandwich or toastie.

Liam Evans, Ci Ci’s Bar manager, Paul Ainsworth at Number 6, Padstow

This is a nice and easy crowd-pleaser that you can build in the pitcher. For six drinks, take 300ml dark rum (we use Mount Gay Black Barrel), 150ml sugar syrup and 210ml lime juice (I like it quite sharp), mix in the pitcher jug, then top up with ginger beer. Then, add lime wedges, fresh mint and ice, and give it another stir. This is a really refreshing cocktail that people will keep going back to – ideal for serving at a barbecue.

Angela Kuras, head bartender at Hotbox, London

For eight cocktails, you’ll need 400ml mezcal, 160ml lime juice and 120ml agave syrup. Infuse the mezcal with chillies for at least 24 hours, preferably two or three days – chopped up habaneros or jalapeños work well; use two or three, depending on how spicy you like it. If you don’t have time to infuse the mezcal, you can also use a hot sauce – stir in half a teaspoon per cocktail (so 4 tsp total). Stir everything together very well without ice, then add ice into the pitcher if serving immediately. This cocktail goes best with smoked meats, like beef brisket, as part of a hearty meal.

Comments are closed.