The early summer days have me dreaming of backyard gatherings with friends and family, picnic dinners in the park, and lazy sunny Sundays. All are made better if there are awesome, no fuss drinks on hand. My solution, mix up a batch of cocktails, or two or three, ahead of time. Put them out in bottles or pitchers on ice and you’re not stuck mixing drinks while everyone else is enjoying themselves. Or you can store them in the fridge ready to pour whenever you desire. Make Tuesday night feel a bit more festive.
And while mixing up a pitcher of cocktails is pretty straightforward I’ve got some tips to share to make it a breeze.
Technically you can make any cocktail into a batch cocktail. All it takes is simple math. Really, there’s not much magic to it. Decide how many servings you want, 2-3 per person is usually pretty safe if you’re having a gathering. Then do some straight up multiplication for your batch recipe. If you choose a recipe with bubbles (soda or sparkling wine) you’ll hold that till you serve. And that’s where the magic comes in, how you serve, but first some math.
For a more visual example let’s work with the fun, light, summer sipper Soft Shock.
Here’s the single recipe:
5 mint leaves
1 tsp simple syrup
1.5 oz fino sherry
.5 oz gin
.75 oz lime juice
5 dashes The Bitter Housewife Cardamom Bitters
Soda water to top
Here’s the recipe for 10 servings and should fit into a liter size pitcher or bottle:
A generous handful of mint leaves (no need to count out 50)
10 tsp (1.75 oz) simple syrup
15 oz fino sherry
5 oz gin
7.5 oz lime juice
~1.5 oz The Bitter Housewife Cardamom Bitters (you can taste and adjust)
Hold the soda water till you’re ready to serve
With this recipe you’d muddle the mint leaves in a pitcher or even a mixing bowl with the simple syrup and bitters. Then mix in the rest of the ingredients.
From here you can put the mix (mint leaves and all) in a flip top bottle, an empty wine bottle (although it might not all fit) or any container with a lid to put in the fridge. Chill for a few hours or even overnight to let the flavors really meld. Nothing more to do until you’re ready to serve.
Mixtures with fresh ingredients will be good to store up to a week, and booze only mixtures will easily keep for weeks in the fridge. (Think: Negroni or Manhattan).
Serving Your Batched Cocktail
If you chose a recipe that didn’t have any bubbles (soda water or sparkling wine), like a Manhattan or Negroni, put your chilled mixture into a container that is easy to pour from. Flip top bottles are great, a glass pitcher is very Mad Men, but you could also get really fancy and find some small “single serve” bottles that hold just a few ounces (a single serving) and you can have them out on ice for folks to grab.
Wouldn’t an ice bucket full of Negroni’s in 3 oz bottles be awesome? Someone might think you started reading Martha Stewart Magazine.
One thing to keep in mind when simply setting out premade cocktails is making sure folks don’t pour too much. Remind them to pour only 3-4 oz (depending on your recipe) over ice. Give them a jigger or shot glass to measure with.
Finishing the Soft Shock
Since the Soft Shock calls for soda water we have a little more prep to do the day of. For this cocktail I would take the mixture we made, put it in a flip top bottle and store it in a bucket of ice along with a bottle of soda water. Then you can set up a drink station with glasses and a little note with directions. Guests can measure 3 oz of the mix into a glass filled with ice and top with 3-4 more oz of soda water. That simple!!!
Batch Cocktail Recipe Inspiration
Fewer ingredients are often better, but drinks like Sangria and Pimm’s Cup which have a lot of fresh fruit and veggies are great in large portions and easy crowd-pleasers. They can also help you make use of that punch bowl gathering dust. Drinks that use a lot of fresh fruit, soda and flavored syrups, or juice are great for offering both alcoholic and non-alcoholic options. You can either mix the recipe without the alcohol and let people spike their own or mix up two batches and label them Virgin and Spiked.
I recently wrote a post on wine based cocktails which are great for batching because, well, a bottle of wine once opened should be consumed. The Rosé Sangria and Strawberry Basil Spritz are summertime options. Read the whole article for more recipes and ideas.
A few favorites that scale nicely and impress: