When the sun goes down and the mates gather around, it's good to mix up a few drinks in a crowd-friendly jug. That way everyone can help themselves, you're not stuck working the bar and you can get down to catching up. Make sure you have extra bottles of the mixers on hand so that guests can soften the alcohol content if they wish (or not drink at all). Chill loads of glasses, break out a platter of veges, dips, deli meats and olives and you can get the party started.
If you want to be smart, theme the food to the drink: a sangria demands Spanish tapas; margaritas a more Mexican slant (make nibbles of beany things on corn chips, smokey grilled chicken, plenty of avocado guacamole). With the planter's punch, a selection of Caribbean food (think spicy chicken or tropical fruits). And for Pimm's there's really only one option for a delicate afternoon's drinking: cucumber sandwiches. Crusts off, of course.
Sangria was originally a Spanish way of making poor wine go further, but now can show off the fruity flavours of a decent wine.
Try this modern version by The Mix's Frankie Walker with passionfruit vodka playing off sweet, fruity notes of a soft rosé.
1 part 42 Below Passion.
3 parts rosé wine.
3 parts soda water.
part sugar syrup.
Slices of summer fruit, such as nectarines or peaches, orange slices and fresh mint leaves.
Fill a jug or punchbowl with ice, and add fruits and mint leaves. Add 42 Below Passion, wine and simple syrup. Stir well, and keep stirring as you add soda water, until well mixed. Garnish with orange slices and serve.
This oldie from the days of Caribbean sugar plantations can be mixed for a crowd or just a couple of drinks.
Fill the jug or glass with ice. To two parts of dark rum add one part each of fresh lime juice and fresh orange juice and half a part of grenadine. Add a dash of Angostura bitters and top with chilled soda water or lemonade. To improve your fruit count, garnish with sliced peaches.
Walker poshes up a Pimm's jug by topping up with with Te Hana sparkling wine - unexpected, and possibly not safe for Nana to have more than two.
Walker's favourite for this summer is to combine 42 Below Feijoa Vodka with elderflower cordial, freshly pressed lemon juice, cloudy apple juice, fresh mint and lime. "Brilliant, quick and easy," he promises. Elderflower cordial from Canterbury's Aroha is this year's mixer darling: make it up into a non-alcoholic punch for the young 'uns by leaving out the vodka.
Summer berry daiquiri
Walker has helpfully made sure we get our fruit uptake up this summer with this boozy, fruity, slushie version of the classic. To a bag of frozen berries from the supermarket he adds white Bacardi rum with lime or lemon juice and caster sugar to taste. Blitz in the blender and serve. Just don't let the kids near.
Or, better still, make them their own non-alcoholic version, diluted with soda water or a dry lemonade: this is the one crowd where you can legitimately go for coloured bendy straws (please, not for the grown-ups), mad umbrellas and cute plastic novelties to hang off the side of the glass.
* Catherine Smith is the editor of Weekend Life and a member of the Food Writers' Guild.