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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:

Consistency- Being able to batch intricate and complicated ingredients in a larger format makes measuring a lot easier and, in most cases, makes them more precise. For example, if a cocktail recipe includes “a few dashes” of specific ingredients such as bitters, producing it in larger amounts will allow for more prescribed and controlled measurements i.e. 30 g of bitters for a larger batch.

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.

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 flavour 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 flavour 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 0 to -2c), you can pour the finished cocktail directly into a chilled glass and serve immediately. What is lacking in bartender theatre 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.

4. Ageing

Ageing and marrying ingredients in casks can have a marked effect on the complexity of the cocktail by adding various flavours.

Choose a 1-3 litre 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)

Recipe

300ml Tanqueray London Dry Gin

330ml Belsazar Rosso Vermouth

350ml Campari

200ml Water

Alcohol content: 138.02 g per batched amount

Method

5 Key takeaways

Tim Philips is a paid partner of Diageo Bar Academy.

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