A Setlist of Scrumptious Summer Spirits

Written by Jack Ries and Trisha Ries

First off, happy almost-spring! Although Punxsutawney Phil guaranteed us six more weeks of winter at the start of February, the days are still getting longer, the weather is still getting warmer, and we here in Marietta are starting to dust off the patio furniture. Of course, with porch, patio, and backyard season comes parties, and with parties comes serving adult beverages for many people. Here are a few of our favorite drink recipes intended for large quantity production, to help make your next pool party, barbecue bash, or summer soiree a little more fun.

Skittles Vodka
Skittles vodka is a huge hit for picnics and other fun get-togethers. It is super easy, but a little tedious, so BE PATIENT. We promise that it is worth the wait.

What you need:
100 Skittles of each specific flavor; 100 grape, 100 lime, etc.
1.5 liter bottle of vodka (we recommend Platinum brand for this- good quality, great price)
16 oz Ball jars; one for dissolving each flavor and a second set for filtering and storage (if you do 5 flavors, you will need ten jars)
Coffee filters
Small mesh strainer (you can easily get these at the dollar store).

Fill each jar with one specific flavor
Fill each jar to the top with vodka. Keep in mind that you will want to purchase enough vodka to cover the volume of jars that you are doing.
Place the lid on top of the jar.
Let the Skittles dissolve for a week, shaking the jars every so often to loosen up anything that may stick to the bottom.
Once the Skittles are fully dissolved, place a coffee filter in the mesh strainer, and place the strainer on top of a new jar.
Slowly pour the vodka mixture into the strainer. Be careful not to overfill. Let the mixture work its way into the new jar; pour the mixture every so often, as the liquid clears.
You may need to replace filters a few times, as they will become clogged.
Repeat for each new flavor.

Homemade Moonshine

Making homemade moonshine has been one of Trisha’s favorite things to do over the last few years. She stumbled upon a few recipes on Pinterest, and asked a few friends to be her guinea pigs. We make about two different flavors each year (Christmas and Spring). After you make a few batches, get creative and have fun with it. We have had a few flavor pairings that are huge hits, and some that were very heavy hitting. One of our all-time favorites was pineapple habanero. This recipe should yield a sip-able moonshine of about 60 proof, no illegal distilling necessary!

What you need:
16 oz Ball jars (or larger)
Flavor syrup or fruit (I used both; pineapple extract and a 64 oz bottle of pure pineapple juice)
1.5 liter bottle of vodka or flavored vodka
1.5 liter bottle of everclear
Habanero extract

Pour water into a pot, and bring to a boil. I used enough water to fill each jar (i.e. 16 oz x number of jars) allowing 2 cups for evaporation.
Add two cups of sugar and bring to boil, stirring until dissolved.
Add pineapple juice and extract to boil.
Add a few drops of habanero extract. Taste before adding more!
Turn the stove off and let it cool back down (below boiling point of 173, but I prefer to let it cool to room temperature).
Once the pot is cooled down enough, add alcohol and stir.
Place moonshine in jars, stirring the pot occasionally while jarring to keep everything properly mixed, and store until use.

Trash Can Juice

The hard punch of choice for the college frat parties of Gen X and beyond, Trash Can Juice is a classic that we’ve decided to refine a little bit (i.e. tone down the alcohol content and lose the trash can mixing vessel), to make it a little more classy. And as a plus, this recipe doesn’t need to be mixed up in a trash can! But you can still do that, if you really want to.

What you need:

1.5 liter bottle of 100 proof vodka
750 ml bottle of triple sec or blue curacao (they’re both orange liqueurs, but one of them is colored blue and has a slightly dryer finish. Don’t tell anyone, it’s a bartender’s secret!)
2 48 oz bottles of fruit punch (any flavor, don’t be afraid to mix and match!)
2 two-liter bottles of lemon-lime soda

There’s really only one step. I guess that’s why drunk college kids are able to master this so easily. Just mix all of your non-carbonated ingredients together first, gently stir in your soda and ice, and enjoy!
If you’re one of those fancy-dandy Ivy League college kids, feel free to dump in some sliced fruit for a touch of class.


A traditional drink originating in Spain, which consists of red wine, fruit juice, and whole fruit. This recipe in particular is closer to a traditional Spanish recipe, which also includes some sugar and a little bit of liquor for a bold finish. This recipe is for 16 servings, but it is scalable if you want to make more (or less). Also, liquor acts as a natural fruit preservative, so with the addition of brandy to this recipe, this sangria will keep in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours.

What you need:

2 medium apples, cored and chopped
2 medium oranges, sliced
¾ cup of organic brown sugar – NOTE – Organic brown sugar isn’t as sweet as other sugars! If you decide to use non-organic brown sugar, cut this in half to start. If you use refined white sugar, only add about 3 tablespoons to start. You can always add more sugar later if you need it.
3 cups orange juice
1 ⅓ cup brandy
4 750ml bottles of red wine (3000ml total) – Traditionally, you would use Garnacha, but that’s expensive and hard to find. In our case, a decent Pinot Noir will work the best.


Add fruit and sugar to your mixing vessel and muddle for about a minute.
Add orange juice and brandy, muddling again for another 30 seconds
Add red wine and gently stir to incorporate. Feel free to add more orange juice, brandy, or sugar to adjust the flavor to your liking.
Add ice and stir once more to chill.

Well, that about does it for us. We’ve done all we can to make the libations at your next get-together a smash(ed) hit! So, I guess there’s nothing left to do but tell you to sit back, relax, and enjoy a drink (or several) with all your friends!

“It is well to remember that there are five reasons for drinking: the arrival of a friend, one’s present or future thirst, the excellence of the cognac, or any other reason” ~ W. C. Fields