Our Guide To Batching Classic Cocktails

Want to prepare some classic cocktails for a large gathering of your friends or family? 

Maybe you just want a bottle of Fords Gin Dry Martini chilling in your fridge, so you can spend time with your guests rather than making cocktails?

Whatever the reason, we’re going to take you through the process of batching, as well as guide you to some delicious gin classics that need little more than simple ingredients and a Fords Gin bottle. That’s right, you don’t even need a measuring device!

We’ve teamed up with Fords Gin to demonstrate how to make the most of their bottle, even once it’s empty of their tasty Gin. Running down the spine of the bottle is a convenient scale with exact measurements, helpful for inventory, and even more fun for batching bottled cocktails in. For more on the design, check out The Story Of The Fords Gin Bottle

Want to be a party host legend?

Of course you do, which is why this is the guide for you. Whether you have friends coming over, or you said you’d bring drinks to the party, you want to get a cocktail in everyone’s hand fast. If you’d also like that drink to be well made and perfectly balanced, batching is the way to do it!

Make the most delicious versions of your favourite cocktails

As a method for preparing cocktails, batching is an interesting technique, and  it’s not confined to serving large groups. In fact, some methods such as clarifying or carbonating cocktails are either difficult or impossible to do when making cocktails in the moment. It’s also an excellent way to prepare cocktails if you get into food pairing, but that’s another story. 

All this is to say, like any other technique, batching can get as technical or simple as you like.

Whatever you want to call it, the technique of batch preparation of drinks is a historical technique that has fallen in and out of favor over the years. 

“Batching”, “Bottling”, “Bottle Batching”, “House Bottled Cocktails”, “Bottle Rested”, “Freezer Martinis!”…

Some people misunderstand the beauty and possibilities of this technique and think it’s a lowbrow approach to making drinks that lacks finesse. A traybake, not French patisserie. Event catering, not fine dining. Thankfully the number of people who take that view are ever fewer. That’s because batching, at its best, is about control, consistency, innovation, and fun! All combined with the benefits of slow-cooked food, where flavours are allowed to develop and round. It’s certainly not soulless or clumsy, if done well.

If you batch and serve with the same degree of care and finesse with which you stir or shake your cocktails. If you use only ingredients of the highest quality.  Then you’re not just creating good drinks through batching, you can produce the most delicious versions of them you’ve ever tasted. More than this, every one you serve will be the same, giving you perfect consistency too. 

Slow drinks, served fast

When we think of an ingredient aging over time, we immediately think of the interaction between liquid and air through the barrel – e.g. whisky, rum, cognac and others. Liquid is drawn into the grain of the wood as it expands in the warmth of the day. It’s then pressed back out into the barrel as it cools and contracts at night, all the while interacting with the oxygen in the air. This process continues over the days, months or years that the spirit rests in the barrel, imparting both the flavors and colors that are found in the final product.

However, with a bottled cocktail,  you don’t need this much interaction to make a real, meaningful difference to the liquid. When using a glass bottle, there’s no reaction between the ingredients and the glass itself. This is because glass is non-porous, meaning it doesn’t ‘breathe’ like a barrel. 

Due to this limited contact with air, the interaction takes place strictly between the different ingredients on a molecular level. This allows the flavors to coalesce, making the drink a much more balanced and enjoyable experience. They become more rounded and smoother to taste with time resting in the bottle. 

The only real downside to batching is that the recipe you make is the recipe everyone gets. If you decide to bottle your Dry Martini with Fino Sherry in place of Dry Vermouth, everyone will be drinking Sherry Martinis rather than picking their preferred ingredients or ratio. Is this really a problem though?

So, plan ahead and allow your recipes some time to mellow in the bottle. This way, not only do you get the benefit of a ready-to-drink cocktail, it will also be smoother than if you’d made it there and then. 

How long will it last? Will it spoil?

Recipes with fresh citrus in them will last in the fridge for a number of days. If you get any fizzing, you know it’s time to throw that batch out. However, the cold of the fridge along with the sugar, alcohol and citric acid in the recipe all do a good preservation job. Just make sure to test and check before serving after 3 days, and remember not every drink is the same. Your Red Snapper isn’t going to last as long as your Gimlet

Booze-only bottled recipes, like the Negroni or Dry Martini will keep indefinitely and can be stored in a cool dark place, out of direct sunlight, if you don’t have room in the fridge, just remember to chill before serving!  

Whatever you’re making, ensure your bottle is properly clean before filing and then well sealed once filled. Alcohol is highly volatile, it also carries flavours, therefore losing alcohol through evaporation is losing flavour!

Bitters don’t scale

Let’s keep things simple here. The best option is to add bitters to the glass when serving your cocktails rather than adding them to the batch. This is for a couple of reasons. 

Firstly, if you manage to make your batch taste too bitter there’s no ingredient to re-balance it. Bitter has no opposite flavour profile, so it’s not like adding too much acidity from lemon juice, as that can be brought back into balance with sugar. You’ve just ruined that whole batch.

Secondly, as the title suggests, when you take the measurement of bitters from a single cocktail and scale that up to a batch, you end up with a cocktail that is far more bitter than you wan’t. They just don’t scale up in the same way other ingredients do. Bitter is also a flavour profile that has a habit of becoming more prominent over time as the other flavours in your batch soften and round. 

Taking all this to mind, if you really have to add bitters to your batch, use a very light hand and add to taste! 

Another positive reason to omit bitters from your batch is that you can offer a selection of bitters at the point of service. This gives you all the upsides of batching a cocktail, whilst also allowing for a little customisation from the final drinker.

Finally, to be clear, we’re talking about bitters such as Angostura, Orange, or Peychaud’s. Those incredibly powerful and bitter ingredients that are added by the drop or dash. On the other hand, Bitter Aperitivo is just fine, so batch away those Negronis! 

Bubbles go flat

If you use a carbonated ingredient in your batch, or you plan on carbonating your ingredients, be aware that every time you open the bottle you’ll be losing bubbles, turning the batch flat. 

For this reason, it’s best to think of a carbonated batch as a one-hit wonder. Once you open it, serve it all as quickly as possible. This is ideal for when you have groups of guests and you need to fill glasses fast, but not the sort of drink to have sitting in your fridge half-empty for days at a time. 

Remember that cold liquids hold far more gas. So, if you are making your own carbonated water or cocktail, get the liquids really cold before adding the CO2.

Adding bubbly ingredients

If adding a carbonated liquid to a batch, ensure you’ve strained all ingredients very finely to remove any solids that would trigger the forming of bubbles. Otherwise these solids will cause bubbles to be formed as you add the ingredient, causing excessive foaming and loss of gas.

Finally, when adding a carbonated liquid to your batch, tilt the bottle and do it as gently and with as little disturbance as possible. Make sure all ingredients are very well chilled, then seal the container as quickly as possible to keep in as much CO2 as possible. 

Never Make a bad batch

There are some subtle differences between recipes when it comes to their batched preparation and service. However, all recipes follow a simple 3 step process of roll, taste & chill. 

Roll

Batching using the Fords Gin bottle is as simple as batching can get. All you need is a funnel to help get the liquids in the bottle without spilling. Once they’re all in there though, you want to ensure they’re thoroughly mixed before you taste the batch and make any decisions on the batch’s balance.. 

The simplest way to do this, is to roll the bottle end-over-end for a few seconds. It’s best to do this with the lid on of course! This simple motion is plenty to combine all liquids together into the finished cocktail.

Taste

We’ve used all sorts of marks on the bottle to use as points of measurement so that you can make many cocktails straight into the Fords gin bottle with no other equipment. 

Follow the recipes carefully to ensure you fill to the exact point of measurement. Accuracy will be improved by measuring into the bottle on a flat and level surface! 

Taste test

Measuring ingredients accurately into your batch is vital, but it can’t account for the differences in acidity in fruit, or different levels of sweetness between different brands. 

Therefore your palate must be the final test, so taste test a small sample. If your batch doesn’t pass the taste test, you need to make fine adjustments with the ingredients until you get the drink in perfect balance. 

Chill

Unless it’s one of the few hot recipes out there, cocktails are made with ice, served with ice, or both made and served with ice. This is obviously to make the drink refreshingly cold, but that’s only one part of it.

In the case of cocktails that are shaken or stirred with ice, the contact with ice also adds water. Water is a vital and yet often overlooked ingredient in a cocktail. However, without finding the perfect point of dilution for a cocktail, the alcohol content will overpower. Not only this, but water is the key to unlock all the other flavours in a cocktail, especially those flavours carried in the alcohol itself. 

When it comes to batched recipes, the water is typically (but not always) added as one of the ingredients of the recipe. Meaning that your batched recipe should be mixed to the perfect point of dilution. With the dilution already added, the batched cocktail can be served straight into the glass from the bottle, but only of course if the cocktail is made very cold first. 

The fridge is adequate for most batched recipes, although you might want to put your bottle of Fords Gin Dry Martini into the freezer for 30 minutes or so before serving. Keeping it in the freezer all the time will of course make it very cold, but it will form ice crystals, so you’ll need to let it warm up just a little before serving. 

If you’re entertaining, bury your bottles of batched cocktails into an ice bucket filled with ice and water for a few hours ahead of serving (Aprox 3hrs if starting at room temperature). 

Top tip, if you need to get your batch chilled faster, spin your bottle of batch every few minutes to throw the warmer liquid at the center of the bottle to the outside of the bottle to chill more quickly. 

To recap, remember:

Three styles of batched cocktail

As effective as batching is, not every recipe can be translated into a format that can be poured directly into a glass from the bottle without an extra step or two. Whether to create texture, provide a visual flourish, or add an ingredient that simply can’t be added to a batch.

We’ve broken down recipes into 3 different formats:

READY TO POUR (& Shake to Wake)

Arguably the best of the batch (pun intended) because these cocktails are prepared completely in the bottle, chilled, then poured straight into a glass, with or without ice and served. 

Stirred drinks like the Dry Martini or Negroni can be poured from the bottle into the glass as is. However, drinks like the Bee’s Knees and Gimlet, need to be aerated as they are classically shaken cocktails. 

The complete drink is prepared in the bottle, along with the required water for dilution. With these recipes, the bottle is not filled completely, allowing room for the ingredients to move as the bottle is given a good shake before the drink is poured into the glass. 

No shaker or ice required, just give the batch a good shake in the bottle then serve. We call this Ready to Pour version, ‘Shake to Wake’!

Shake to wake

SPLASH, DASH OR DRIZZLE

These cocktails are batched like the ‘Ready to Serve’ recipes. They’re prepared in the bottle, chilled, and served straight into a glass. Then at this point they are given a finishing touch. A splash, dash or drizzle of another ingredient that cannot be added to the batch for a number of reasons.  

For example, a splash of Champagne or soda that would simply go flat in the bottle. Dashes of powerful aromatic bitters that are tricky to scale up and are best left out of the batch and added straight to the glass. Then there are drinks like the Bramble that require a drizzle of fruit liqueur to stay true to the iconic look of the drink. 

SHAKE WITH ICE

These recipes are batched into the bottle except for a key ingredient that can’t be batched and needs to be shaken into the drink just before serving. This is to add texture, flavours or both, to the drink at the final moment. 

Due to the need for the drink to be shaken with ice, water is not included in these batched recipes, as the required water will be added to the drink when the ingredients are shaken. 

Foam

Texture is a key part of any cocktail recipe. One of the more dramatic examples is the addition of foam through shaking ingredients together with egg white or other foaming agents such as aquafaba.

In these recipes, a measurement of the batch is poured from the bottle into a cocktail shaker, the foaming ingredient is added and it’s all shaken together to get the required texture. 

Shaking is broken up into two steps: 

The first shake is done without ice to act as a whip, to aerate and foam the ingredients as they combine. 

Ice is then added to the frothy mix in the tin and shaken for a second time to chill and dilute. The drink is then strained into the glass and served. 

We recommend a fine strain to get the best foam as the strainer breaks larger bubbles into smaller ones to give you rich and glossy foam. 

Soft Herbs

Soft herbs such as mint, or basil can’t be added to a batch. You could tweak a recipe and make a fresh mint syrup to add if you so wanted, but we think you’re better off leaving fresh herbs out of the batch and introducing them at the last moment. 

Fine straining

As the drink is shaken with a solid ingredient that will break apart during shaking, make sure to fine-strain as you pour into the glass to prevent any large and unsightly pieces of herb from making their way into your drink. The cocktail equivalent of spinach in your teeth!

Unlike the other two batching formats, these recipes do not include water in the bottling process. It’s added while shaking with ice in the traditional manner. 

We hope this article has motivated you to pick up a bottle of Fords Gin to both make cocktails with the Gin and in the bottle. Check out the Fords Gin page on Candra and get making a delicious Bottle Batched Negroni, a Bee’s Knees, Bramble or even a perfect Gimlet!


As always, don’t forget to show us what you made by tagging us!
@Candra_Drinks  #MakeBetterDrinks  #CandraDrinks

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