A BATCH MADE IN HEAVEN: A GUIDE TO GREAT BATCHING
To outsiders, batching may conjure up sweet punches and poorly measured ingredients. To bartenders, it’s another thing entirely. Previous World Class winner, Tim Philips, explains how pre-mixed drinks free up bartenders to focus on craft and execution.
99 problems but a batch ain’t one
Drink serving styles come, go and evolve over time. Batching however, is one that has been around long enough that the advantages are very clear. It is no longer a case of batching to keep recipes from staff - as Donn Beach did in the 1950s. Today batching is ultimately used to ensure guest satisfaction and has many benefits that contribute toward this:
The result? Every bartender produces the exact same drink. It’s this consistency that promotes repeat business and customer affiliation. It goes without saying but measuring more precisely will also lead to cost savings down the line.
- Speed – Most bartenders would agree that batching allows for faster, smoother service which can be comforting on busier nights of the week – trust me. From three minutes to thirty seconds, speed of service is extremely important. As a business, this can increase the customer spend per head, therefore dramatically increasing the bar’s profitability – win-win!
- Presentation – Cocktail making is an art and using batched recipes does not cheapen this. In fact, the delivery of batched cocktails can add some drama to your bar and when well executed can give your serve that extra wow factor! The more appealing the serve the more likely customers are to re-purchase.
- Guest Experience– Using batch drinks not only reduces the amount of movements we bartenders make behind the bar; it also reduces the time spent mixing the drink. I have noticed first-hand that this gave me more time to build a meaningful rapport and engage with customers.
A method to the batching madness
When it comes to implementing a batching system it’s good practice to ensure the back-of-house preparation for batching is well managed and sustained.
Ideally a designated batching manager should oversee the making of batched drinks to ensure no loss or wastage along the way. Other considerations include:
1. The ABV of the final bottled cocktail
The ABV will help with understanding the shelf life and storage conditions required.As a rule of thumb, unopened cocktails above 25% ABV will store well for up to three months at room temperature. Once opened, it’s recommended to keep the product chilled, unless the intention is to consume or sell quickly. Cocktails such as an Old Fashioned or Manhattan with an ABV of around 36% store well and can even improve in flavor after six months or longer.
2. Think about the use of citrus
Citrus fruits and juice are prone to clouding or separating in bottled cocktails. Powdered citric or malic acid is a close alternative providing the acidity and balance while remaining translucent.
Tip - If you want to modify the flavor of the acid, try cooking a citric acid solution sous vide with Persian dried limes or spices to add greater depth to drinks.
Another option is to pre-batch all ingredients apart from citrus fruit, adding this in before shaking. By using this method, you can save a lot of time on delivery.
3. Dilution or no dilution
Whether you chose to dilute the cocktail to service strength or keep it at bottling strength is entirely up to you, both have their own pros and cons after all.
By diluting the cocktail to an appropriate service strength ABV and, with sufficient refrigeration (ideally to approximately 28°F to 32°F), you can pour the finished cocktail directly into a chilled glass and serve immediately. What is lacking in bartender theater it makes up for in speed. This method can require specific refrigeration equipment to ensure that the drink is served at its optimum temperature.
Alternatively, we can pre-mix the ingredients to bottling strength to increase the shelf life outside of refrigeration. This then means that the drink must be stirred and shaken, adding further to the guest’s experience.
Ageing and marrying ingredients in casks can have a marked effect on the complexity of the cocktail by adding various flavors.
Choose a 1-3 quart cask and allow the cocktail to rest for a period of time. It’s advised that you monitor the liquid on a daily basis to ensure that it is balanced and palatable. Once the desired element of the cask’s character has been attained, simply empty, filter and bottle the liquid for service.
To batch or not to batch?
Part of the challenge of batching lies in which ingredients to use. For instance, to avoid waste and better efficiency, most bartenders avoid perishable juices when batching. The same goes with any elements like vermouth or fortified wines which have a limited lifespan when opened. Instead, batching with high-proof alcohol is popular as it will help extend production shelf life. This, coupled with always using clean bottles that have been disinfected, will help prolong your batch.
Other ways of adding long life to your cocktail production when batching is to take advantage of a few other on-trend styles of drinks including slushies and house-bottled cocktails. The ability to make 60 to 600 drinks before shift and decant to either a slushie machine or bottles will make for a more efficient service time, whilst providing consistently good cocktails for your customer.
Batched Negroni (Makes 10)
- 10 oz. Tanqueray London Dry Gin
- 11 oz. Belsazar Rosso Vermouth
- 12 oz. Campari
- 7 oz. Water
Alcohol content: 7 fl oz. per batched amount
- Take all ingredients and weigh to measure into clean mixing jug
- Stir all ingredients to mix together
- Portion mix into 4 oz. bottles or serve over ice
- For more recipes and pointers on batching download our batching infographic
5 Key takeaways
- Bar tenders’ batch to ensure guest satisfaction through consistent serves, perfectly presented in a timely manner.
- Consider the ABV of the final bottled cocktail - this will help understand the shelf life and storage conditions required.
- Citric or malic acid are great alternatives for citrus fruits and juice. They provide acidity and balance without affecting the appearance of the batch.
- Diluting a batch cocktail to service strength means its ready to pour directly into a glass. Diluting to bottle strength means the cocktail will need shaken or stirred before serving.
- Batching with high-proof alcohol will extend production shelf life.
Tim Philips is a paid partner of Diageo Bar Academy.