Streamline and simplify: the rise of batch cocktails

Have you ever had one of those good-on-paper-but-bad-in-practice moments while hosting a party? You know, the kind where you’ve tested something once, like a cocktail, and it turned out great? So, armed with your new-found bartending skills, you decide to host a cocktail party. Awesome on paper, right? But in practice, you find yourself chained to the drinks station with a line of thirsty guests while the party roars on without you. Well, my fellow cocktail enthusiasts, today’s your lucky day. We’re about to solve that problem as we dive into the world of batch cocktails.


Shake, pour, sip, savour

What’s a batch cocktail, I hear you say? In short, it’s a premixed cocktail that’s chilled until it’s ready to serve. Sure, this might rob you of a bottle-tossing flair moment, but unless you’re Tom Cruise in Cocktail, no one wants to wait five minutes for a drink. The beauty of batch cocktails is that they’re quick and easy, and you can tailor them to your taste. In today’s fast-paced world, it seems like a no-brainer. Do the work ahead of time and reap the tasty benefits later.

Bowl o’ punch

Back in the 1600s, some thirsty fellows had the same idea when punch was invented. It may have fallen out of favour these days, but the mighty punch bowl is the granddaddy of all cocktails. For it was in this hallowed vessel that the holy trinity of spirit, sour, and sugar were first mixed with water and spices. According to David Wondrich’s delightful book Punch, the first recorded recipe dates back to 1638. It was captured by German Johan Albert de Mandelslo, who was in charge of a factory in India. He wrote that the workers enjoyed “a kind of drink consisting of aquae vitae, rose-water, juice of citrons and sugar”. He coined it ‘palepuntz’, meaning bowl o’ punch.

Crowd work

Cocktails have come a long way since then, but it feels fitting that we return to the party format. Bartenders have known about the benefits for ages, and some establishments have even turned it into a feature. Cape Town’s famed House of Machines has had a cocktail barrel project since forever. Premixed Negronis are tapped straight out of the barrel, stirred over ice to achieve the proper dilution, garnished, and slung out to thirsty patrons. When you’re as busy as they are, it just makes sense.

Tasty tips and tricks

The easiest way to get batching is to pick a drink that premixes well. All-spirit cocktails like the Negroni, Martini, or Manhattan are perfect. Because there is nothing perishable in these drinks, you can mix up a batch, bottle it, and keep it in the fridge for a few months. Some cocktails require a touch of bitters or citrus to finish before serving. This is best done after you’ve poured the cocktail to achieve the right balance. Cocktails are usually measured in ounces or 30ml parts. The simplest way to scale up a cocktail is to change the ounce to a cup. This will bump up the serving from one to eight. So, for a Negroni, which calls for one ounce each of gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth, it will be one cup of each. Easy peasy, orange-garnish squeezy.


Parting bar wisdom

Ask any good bartender and they’ll tell you that proper dilution is the key to a good cocktail. This happens when a touch of water is added or by stirring or shaking the cocktail over ice. The three cocktails mentioned above all need dilution to make them sing to your tastebuds.

If you opt to add water to the recipe, 20% is a good starting ratio. Alternatively, shake the premix over ice before serving.

Armed with this new-found knowledge, we hope you venture forth and free yourself from the shackles of the drinks station!

Images: Unsplashed | Pexels

Leave a comment

Promoted Restaurants