Some hosts and hostesses enjoy working hard during their parties, preparing fresh snacks and hand mixing drinks. Other hosts make plenty of pre-party arrangements, but once their guests arrive, they just want to kick back and celebrate.
For anyone who falls into the latter category, booze in a bucket might be for you.
Basically, all booze buckets -– also called "party pails" -- are similar. They consist of plastic buckets that hold between 25 and 90 oz. of liquid. The bucket contains a bag or two of sugary, brightly colored liquid that gets mixed with water and about half of a bottle of alcohol.
After eight hours in the freezer, the buckets become filled with a potent, slushy beverage that makes 15-20 drinks.
Although booze buckets are associated with suburban patio parties, Helena Jackson lives in the city of Milwaukee and is a fan of the frozen drinks. Jackson hosted three baby showers in the past two years, and for each event, made at least one bucket of frozen cosmopolitans.
"It’s cheaper than mixing cocktails," says Jackson.
Some of the brands -- the Jelly Belly brand in particular -- are extremely sugary. Also, booze buckets are more palatable if you do not expect them to taste like their hand-mixed counterparts. For example, the frozen bucket mojito tastes more like a mojito-flavored snow cone than an actual mojito.
Scoop out the drink with an ice cream scooper or ladle into a cocktail glass. Garnishes really aren’t necessary. If the ice doesn’t seem quite right, add more shaved ice or let the frozen bucket sit at room temperature.
The snow cone consistency of bucket booze results from the alcohol which prevents the drink from completely freezing. To make a family-friendly virgin version, replace liquor with soda and check the bucket every two hours to make sure it’s not too frozen.
Buckets of booze cost about $10. They are available in liquor stores and appear as seasonal items in big box and chain stores like Big Lots and Linens ‘N Things. They are ideal for large parties, barbeques or showers when you don’t want to feel chained to a blender. Also, they are an easy libation option when tailgating, patio cocktailing or lounging at the beach.
Most of the makers of frozen drink buckets sell salsa and / or corn chips, too.
The Desert Pepper Trading Co. is one of the largest retailers of the booze bucket. They have dozens of flavors including the mango mojito, cosmopolitan, blue Hawaiian, sangria, mai tai and more.
The El Paso Chili Company has a line of frozen drink mixes, too. El Paso’s require a fifth of liquor and come in margarita, strawberry margarita, mojito and cosmopolitan.
On The Border, best known for its frozen margarita mix, offers a 90-oz. bucket. The aforementioned Jelly Belly frozen drink mixes come in a jelly bean-shaped plastic container and are available in green apple appletini, strawberry daiquiri, lemon drop martini and very cherry cosmo.
"Don’t compare (buckets of booze) to regular cocktails," says Jackson. "It’s more like a Dairy Queen slush with kick."
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.