In the past couple of weeks, thousands of parents packed lunches, stuffed backpacks, combed down cowlicks and put up proud posts on Facebook of smiling little ones headed back to school. For us, this meant our annual back-to-school party to kick off the new year, complete with water ice, tug-of-war, fireworks, and of course, a crowd-pleasing bar set-up —one suitable for both kids and parents.
We started our summer with a Honey Bourbon Lemonade, so it seemed fitting we bid our last days of summer adieu with one more batch of fresh-squeezed lemonade.
For this happy hour, we invited the whole gang and hosted a big party, which called for a very big batch of drinks. To keep it simple we made one drink — blueberry lemonade — for both the kids and adults, but then added a splash of rum to the grown-up's glasses.
I started with four pitchers of plain lemonade: a simple mix of hand squeezed lemons and simple syrup, loads of ice and water. Here's a handy tutorial for making great lemonade: How to Make Real Lemonade from Scratch.
The kids got this simple lemonade all on its own. For the adults, I mixed some booze, fresh blueberries, and a few leaves of basil from the garden in 1/2-pint jam jars and gently muddled. Then I topped each jar off with lemonade, leaving room for ice and a splash of seltzer for some spritz. Besides adding another element of flavor, the addition of the blueberries also made it easy to make sure the kids weren't drinking the adult lemonade.
For 40 adults, I made two cases of jam jars (24 jars total) and placed their lids back on for easy transport. To finish the set-up I placed two ice buckets next to the stacked drinks in jars (one with ice for the drinks and one with chilled bottles of seltzer) and a little sign that read, "Add Ice and Shake. Top with a Splash of Seltzer & Enjoy."
Mixing up pitchers for the kiddos and pre-batching the adult drinks saves you from playing bartender all night and lets you enjoy the party too. Toasting the end of summer is bittersweet but with the right drink, back to school is a little easier going down. So invite all your kids friends and yours too for a back to school happy hour everyone will love.
Spiked Blueberry Basil Lemonade
24 ounces rum
2 cups of blueberries
2 cups of loosely packed, basil leaves
48 ounces homemade lemonade
1 to 2 liters of chilled seltzer or club soda
Arrange 24 1/2-pint jam jars on the counter. Add 1 ounce of rum, a couple of fresh blueberries, and a few basil leaves to each jar and gently muddle. Top with two ounces of lemonade. Put lids on tightly and shake.
Add ice and seltzer right before drinking.
- You could make spiked lemonade with your favorite spirit. Some other ones that work wonders are vanilla rum, bourbon, vodka or pisco.
(Images: Maureen Petrosky)