A summer party is no time for mixing individual cocktails. That’s what’s called a buzzkill. Warm weather festivities demand easy food and even easier drinks. And we’ve got you covered.
We suggest starting with six baking sheets. Cover each with tortilla chips. Now start piling on toppings. Sausage on one, browned ground beef on another, thinly sliced steak on a third, maybe some barbecue chicken on another, and so on.
Next, pile different combinations of veggies and beans onto each. And don’t forget the jalapenos and olives. Finally, heaps and heaps of cheeses. Just as your guests arrive, pop a couple of these baking sheets into the oven. As they get all melty and delicious, pull them out, toss on some salsa and sour cream, then serve while a few pans more go in the oven. It’s party food that keeps you in the party, not in the kitchen.
Meanwhile, you’ll need some great pitcher-style cocktails to go with these platters of nachos. We picked three winners for you.
The tomato mixture is easily prepped ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to serve.
Start to finish: 10 minutes
1 serrano chili, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
3 limes, quartered
12 ounces tomato juice, chilled
Hot sauce, to taste
Six 12-ounce bottles Mexican beer, chilled
In a small pitcher, combine the chili, sugar, Worcestershire and limes. Muddle the limes and chili slices until the limes are crushed and release their juices. Add the tomato juice and stir well. Season with hot sauce, as desired. Moisten the edge of 6 glasses and dip into salt to edge the rims. Fill each halfway with ice. Divide the tomato mixture between the glasses, then top with beer.
Start to finish: 20 minutes, plus chilling
4 dried hibiscus flowers or 8 hibiscus tea bags
1/2 cup sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
4 cups water
3 cups cabernet sauvignon wine, preferably Mexican
1 cup fresh blackberries
4 ounces mezcal
Use a vegetable peeler to carefully strip off the zest from the orange (the outer orange layer of skin, but not the white pith beneath it). Place the zest in a medium saucepan. Juice the orange into a pitcher and set aside.
To the saucepan, add the hibiscus, sugar, cinnamon sticks and water. Bring to a simmer, then cover and remove from the heat. Allow to steep for 15 minutes. Once steeped, strain into the pitcher with a mesh strainer, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids. Add the wine, blackberries and mezcal to the pitcher. Refrigerate until well chilled. Serve over ice.
The corn-lime liquid can be prepped ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to serve.
Start to finish: 15 minutes
Kernels from 2 ears of corn (about 1 3/4 cups)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, plus additional sprigs to garnish
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon sugar
12 ounces tequila
In a blender, combine the corn kernels, cilantro leaves, lime juice and sugar. Blend until smooth. Line a mesh strainer with moistened cheesecloth, then strain the blended mixture into a pitcher to remove any solids, squeezing to extract all the liquid. Moisten the edge of small drinking glasses with a lime wedge and dip the rims in salt. To each glass, add 2 ounces of tequila and a couple ice cubes. Top with about 2 ounces of the corn mixture. Garnish with cilantro.