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Drink dispensers: A refreshing idea for summer parties

We recently hosted a sizable gathering and, for the first time ever, I used a large glass drink dispenser with a spigot at the bottom for one of the beverages we served.

I have seen those dispensers for years at places like Pottery Barn, Bed Bath & Beyond and, well, just about everywhere.

For our party, I considered buying one but quickly dismissed the idea. Those things are big. Where would we store it? In the basement next to the 30-cup coffee maker I drag out once a year? Or the multiple large serving platters, two slow cookers and box of votive candle holders I also keep in the storage cabinets down there?

So I called a friend and asked if she happened to have one. Yes, she did. And, yes, I could borrow it.

This is the friend who borrows our card table whenever she hosts Bunco night.

“Why don’t you buy your own?” I once asked her.

“I don’t want to store it,” she replied.

So this was working out to be a very nice arrangement. She even dropped it off at my house – along with the stand it sits on.

Next decision: What non-alcoholic beverage to serve in it? Infused water? Lemonade? Iced tea?

My friend said she makes infused water for gatherings and takes a seasonal approach to the ingredients: cranberries and orange slices in the fall; sliced cucumbers in the summer.

Water with seedless cucumbers and lemon.

As an experiment two days before the party, I tried the cucumber idea, with a few slices of lemon tossed in. It was refreshing, but not what my daughter had in mind.

I was open to suggestions, especially since it was her graduation party and it was her idea to have a drink dispenser in the first place.

For the party, we decided to serve lemonade with fresh strawberries and ice. It was a big hit.

Of course I could have gotten fancier, I have discovered.

Online I see dispensers filled with water and a mix of strawberries, sliced cucumbers, sliced limes and sprigs of mint. has a recipe for lavender lemonade made with sugar, water, dried lavender flowers, freshly squeezed lemon juice and ice cubes.

I also came across a video from Pottery Barn called “How to Decorate and Fill a Drink Dispenser for a Party” which shows how to make Tropic Crush.

One-inch-thick slices of pineapple rounds without the rinds are cut in half and stacked along the interior walls of a dispenser creating a “center conduit” for ice and sparkling lemonade. (Skewers help with the stacking process but are then removed.)

“The sliced pineapple half-circles lend themselves well to being stacked around the dispenser’s perimeter, but think about how many other kinds of fruit have a similar shape. Lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit, watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew melons and even cucumber or tomato can all go in your dispenser in the same configuration ...” the website tells us.

So many possibilities to consider. I may need to hang onto that beverage dispenser I borrowed for awhile.

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