Problem: cocktail parties are a blast, but can become a hassle if you’re too busy behind the bar to chat and mingle.
Simple Solution: pre-mix batches of select drinks, and put a “specialty cocktail” menu on the bar. A small set of classic and exotic cocktails will entice most people and if the drinks are good enough, they’ll never think to order something else. Making drinks can then be as simple as measuring the predetermined amount of mix, stirring or shaking with ice, straining and garnishing. If you post fool-proof instructions for mixing those batched cocktails behind the bar, you can pass the torch when you want to take a break.
First take a look at the LibationLab guide to stocking your home bar.
Guidelines for batching drinks:
- -Determine recipes for batches of 8 (a dinner party) and 20 drinks (a cocktail party), and if you are doing something bigger, multiply those recipes accordingly (3×8 for about 25 guests, 5×20 for 100, etc).
- -Know your guests: consider how much your friends drink, length of the party, and if beer and wine will be available.
- -Pre-batch drinks in quick-pour storage bottles (like these) or in glass pitchers (I like these from CB2).
- -Label bottles and pitchers clearly and with thorough instructions (Printable labels I created for this purpose).
- -If you are making huge batches, store the surplus in juice cartons in the refrigerator and fill pitchers from those rather than pouring from carton to jigger or glass.
- -Use fresh juice if possible, but make sure those batches are always refrigerated or on ice.
- -It isn’t always simple math. Multiplying the measurements by the same number doesn’t always yield drinks that taste the same. I’m sure there’s a scientific reason, but I’ll be damned if I can figure it out. The first time you batch a drink, adjust to taste and then record the final measurements, so you won’t have to do this so often in the future.
- -Always thoroughly stir or shake and taste each batch/container before pouring.
- -Slice several lemons and limes into wedges in advance for garnish, but cut each twist or peel to order.
- -The standard 750ml liquor bottle contains just over 25 ounces of spirits (the average cocktail contains 1.5- 2 ounces of spirit)
- -Drinks without fresh ingredients (just spirits, vermouth, liqueur, sugar, bitters), can be made several hours ahead.
- -Drinks with fresh fruits, vegetables or juices can be batched 3-4 hours in advance.
- -Drinks with fresh citrus should be batched and refrigerated 1-2 hours ahead, but citrus spoilage is slowed by alcohol and sugar, so you can batch citrus drinks made with all 3 components 3-4 hours ahead if kept refrigerated.
- -Eggs and dairy should only be added at the last minute while making individual drinks, but even if your drinks require some components to be added drink by drink, you can still batch the rest of the ingredients ahead.