Batching Cocktails

Why Batch?

There are many good reasons.

Most commonly you batch to make life easier when you have friends coming over and you don’t want to get stuck making drinks all night.

You simply enjoy having your favourite cocktail in the fridge ready to serve as and when it tickles your fancy!  

There are some techniques and recipes that can only be done by batching, such as ageing or carbonation. 

You need a lot less ice, or even no ice at all! This is a big plus in the real world when you‘re entertaining. The process of making cocktails with traditional techniques can require a LOT of ice.

Many drinks, especially stiff, booze forward cocktails like a Martini or Manhattan, will even improve with time resting in a bottle. Like slow cooked food, all the flavours become more rounded and integrated as the molecules interact with each other.

Manhattan cocktail

Downsides? Not many. Only the fact that the drink is set. So, if you batch Martinis for a party then you have predetermined how Dry everyone is drinking their Martinis (i.e. the ratio of Gin to Dry Vermouth).

How?

Carefully measure out ingredients and combine together in a clean mixing jug.

Water that would usually be added by techniques like stirring or shaking, is measured out and added with the rest of the ingredients.

The cool thing about making drinks this way, is that once you have measured out your ingredients, bottled and chilled them, the rest is enjoyment. There’s nothing left to do other than pour the cocktail into your glass, garnish and serve. If you still want to go to the trouble of shaking or stirring, you can save some time by mixing ingredients together ahead of time, but you are only making your life slightly easier. Better to go the whole way and include the water in your batch.

Batching cocktails equipment

The amount of water you need to add will either be included in the recipe you are following, or you will have to work it out yourself. Here’s a way to do that: 

    • Carefully measure out all the ingredients for one serving of the cocktail into a measuring jug and double check that the total amount of liquid is as it should be per the recipe.

    • Make the cocktail with the appropriate technique (shake, stir etc…) and when it tastes perfect, strain the drink back into the measuring jug.

    • Now take this new measurement, and subtract the first measurement you made of the ingredients. This will reveal the amount of water that has been added, and how much is needed to batch this recipe.

    • You can now easily multiply up your recipe, including the water, to make as much as you need to satisfy all your guests.

As with every process, you must taste the balance of your drink, but this time you are only taste testing once for 10, 50, 100 serves. So it’s more important than ever, because you are deciding the fate of ALL the serves in your batch. No pressure…just remember to taste and adjust (if needed) before bottling.

Transfer your batch into sterilized glass bottle(s). Other containers can work, but especially for longer storage, glass is best. There’s a variety of sizes you can use, either small single serve bottles, or larger ones that hold multiple servings. How you present your drink is up to you and the type of drink it is. I mean, you probably want a glass for your Manhattan, but a citrussy drink could be enjoyed straight from the bottle.

Store in the fridge or freezer, depending on how much time you have before serving. If you are batching days in advance, firstly, well done! Secondly, you want to store your batch in the fridge so that your drinks don’t freeze. 

Drinks served over ice are easy, because the temperature of the bottle is less important. However, drinks like Manhattans need to be moved to the freezer, or an ice bucket (perfect for parties) an hour or so before serving, so that they are cold enough to be enjoyed without any additional ice.

NB: Storage Times

Smaller bottles will chill more quickly, so be aware. You don’t want to serve your guest a cocktail and discover that they are all frozen solid in the freezer! Another reason why an ice-bucket is the perfect solution for parties.

Recipes using fresh ingredients, like a Margarita mix for example, can be stored for less time in the bottle compared to cocktails that are made entirely of booze, like Martinis, Negronis, Old Fashionds etc… these will never go bad, and as mentioned before, they will actually improve over time. Fresh ingredients will deteriorate faster, but the time that it takes will vary depending on how much sugar and / or alcohol is in the mix. 

Most drinks will be fine for 3-5 days if kept sealed and refrigerated. Syrups and cordials will last indefinitely. So, use your nose and palate to check for freshness before you serve.

Carbonated cocktails will last well if the bottle is filled to the top and not repeatedly opened. It’s worth mentioning that batching carbonated cocktails will be more successful if you go to the additional effort of filtering all solids from the cocktail as CO2 will form bubbles on solids.

NB: Bitters and Batching 

Adding bitters to a batch can be a tricky affair…

They really don’t scale up the same way other ingredients do, and can easily overpower and ruin a whole batch. Don’t forget, there is no natural opposite flavour profile to bitter, so you won’t be able to bring the drink back into balance if you add too much!

If you wish to add bitters during the batching process, go light and go by taste not by scaling up a recipe. Our preference though, is to leave the bitters out of the batch and add them at the point of service, like you add a garnish. 

Whatever way you go…add with care!

To be clear…this advice does not apply to Amaros or Aperitivos. So go ahead and batch that bottle of Negroni!

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