Drinks at the Ready: Batched Cocktails
Photo by Joy Summers
The days of waiting 20 minutes or more for a craft cocktail have thankfully drawn to a close. With hotspots like Hola Arepa, Marche and Eat Street Social’s Torpedo Room making some large stashes of drinks before the evening gets swinging, receiving a top shelf mixed beverage is just a bottle pour away. Some restaurants, like The Strip Club Meat & Fish in St. Paul have even taken to putting special drinks in kegs to have them at the ready for the whims of their guests.
I was at a party recently with Erik Eastman, the Easy of Easy & Oskey where he mixed up several servings of a sublime Old Fashioned and poured them all into a bottle. As guests ran dry, their glasses were simply filled with ice and topped off. It was as genius as it was easy (pun intended).
The strategy works best with classic cocktails like negronis, martinis or an Old Fashioned. He says, “If you’re going to the trouble of batching cocktails, you’ll get better results by making a larger sized cocktail and storing it in a bottle.” The key to any entertaining success is to keep it inside your personal comfort zone. No one wants to come to your house to see you running around, freaking out about the details. Throw some really good booze in a pitcher and pour liberally.
For a martini, Eastman says, “You could just buy the ingredients already measured out. Get a 750ml of Tanqueray, use half a 750 ml of Dolin dry vermouth, dump them in a pitcher and stir them up to order. I like to serve with the bitters, dropping them over the glass, because I like that kind of thing.” He suggests using an orange bitters or something citrus like the new Easy & Oskey grapefruit bitters.
With making a batched cocktail at home, the biggest debate the experts have is whether to stir or not to stir. While some think the drinks are best when diluted just before consumption, we prefer the easier-on-the-host option of stirring the entire batch beforehand. Explains Eastman, “Most people don’t realize that you need to stir these drinks – stir it for a solid 30 seconds. You wouldn’t think that’s all that long, until you’re standing there and your guests are watching you spend all this quality time with a spoon and a pitcher.” He also stresses the importance of tasting your concoction constantly, just as any professional bartender does. It is remarkable the difference in cocktail flavor between a drink simply poured and served and one that loosens up and mellows with the dilution that stirring affords.
“Remember, it isn’t rocket science. This is just drinking,” he says. Get great ingredients and enjoy.
Easy’s Easy Old Fashioneds
2 oz high quality rye (such as New Richmond)
1 oz good bourbon (such as Granddad 114)
2 tsp rich simple syrup (2:1 sugar to water, recipe variation to follow)
½ teaspoon of bitters (preferably cherry vanilla)
Multiply the amount of ingredients by guests. Pour over ice in a large pitcher. Stir vigorously for a solid 30 seconds. Taste. Adjust syrup/bitters/dilution as necessary. Strain mixture into an easy to pour vessel. Serve at will, or even better—let your guests help themselves. Garnish with a large swath of orange peel.
Holiday Spiced Rich Simple Syrup
This is perfectly seasonal spiced syrup. For more basic flavors, simply omit the spices.
2 parts (300 grams) Muscovado (unrefined brown) sugar
1 part (150 grams) water
¼ cup allspice berries
1 teaspoon clove
Combine in a small pot over medium high flame. Simmer until all sugar is completely dissolved. Turn off heat. Allow to completely cool and steep for one hour.
Strain to a small jar with a lid.
Store in the refrigerator.