I’ve got 99 problems but a batch ain’t one

By Bridget Albert, National Director of Education for Beam Suntory, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits

Batching cocktails for a shift or event allows for speedy service, consistency, less stress and gives the bartender more time to focus on the guest. Batching cocktails is not an exact science and there are many methods to use that will give a professional bartender a good result.  One thing is for certain, many bars are still understaffed, undertrained and no one wants to wait 15 minutes for their drink.  Batching a cocktail can be a good solution to keep the bar team and customers happy.

 

Batching cocktails is as much of an art as it is a science.  Ask three beverage pros how they batch, and you will get three different answers. That is exactly what happened when celebrated beverage industry professionals Keli Rivers, Daniel de Oliveira and Livio Lauro weighed in to share their batching magic so we can all make delicious cocktails with the same speed and ease of pouring a beer.

 

Ingredients:

 

Mother nature’s fresh ingredients, while tasty, are unstable and unpredictable. Fresh juices change when exposed to oxygen. The speed of oxidation can be slowed through doing the following:

·         Add more sugar by using syrups

·         Store batch in a cool place

·         Use an airtight container

 

Southern Glazer’s of Illinois Director of Mixology, Daniel de Oliveira (AKA DDO), said, “When a cocktail is all spirits, batching is a breeze!  Look out for citrus, pasteurized or not. Citrus is tricky. It is hard to gauge how long a citrus batch will last. Sure, alcohol and sugar act as a natural preservative, but the quality of the citrus, temperature and so many other variables will decide how long the batch is good.”

 

Omitting juices all together will avoid the headache of expiration guess work. Powdered malic and citrus acids are a good alternative to fresh juices.  

 

Bitters are also a common ingredient in cocktails and classically known as the salt and pepper of cocktails. Potable bitters are enjoyed as a secondary ingredient that supports a cocktail’s structure measured in ounces. Non-potable bitters are a flavor essence measured in dashes made to lift a cocktail’s aroma and boost ingredients. A dash can be defined as .02 ounces. Avoid being heavy handed while adding bitters to a batch. Typically, less is more as their taste can easily overpower a cocktail.

 

Carbonated liquids should never be batched. “I’d love a flat cocktail,” said no one ever. Ginger beers, soda, and sparkling wine should be used to top off a cocktail upon serving.

 

Formula and dilution:

 

A batch formula is scaling a single cocktail recipe to multiple cocktails. Methods include converting ounces to parts or simple multiplication.

 

“I try to make it as simple as possible using the natural size of the bottle,” said Keli Rivers Icon of Gin Ambassador 2021 and Sipsmith® Gin Senior Brand Ambassador. “A 750 or liter is my north star. I find it to be more accurate in the final batch than using a measuring cup which give a lot of room for error. This why I don’t add drops or dashes into the batch. I also add anywhere from 10 to 20% water to my batch, depending on how the cocktail will be mixed (stirred or shaken) as I find that some bartenders subconsciously will under mix batched cocktails. I don’t know why this is. I liken it to proofing down gin after it has been distilled to let it rest a little to keep the flavors from coming out of harmony with each other.”

 

Beverage industry legend and Southern Glazer’s of Nevada Master Mixologist Livio Lauro said, “For massive Las Vegas events, I prefer to serve drinks on the rocks (Margarita rocks) and add 10% water to the batch before pouring over ice at time of service. For shaken drinks that need to be served with speed (dessert drinks), adjust dilution to 20% and keep the batch cold in an ice bath. Agitate container before pouring into glass.”

 

Now that we learned how to batch the question of what to batch remains.

 

Keli River has extensive experience working in bars and running beverage programs. She shared her insight on how to know what cocktail to batch.

 

“Before I would batch a drink, I would look at my end shift reports to find the top selling cocktails to learn what drinks move, as well as where we could find steps to speed up the process of getting the cocktails into the hands of guests.  This followed a meeting with my bar team to gain their opinion. The following questions are key to gaining insights from the bar team and this is really important, they are ones behind the stick every night.”

·         Will batching make your job easier?

·         Will this allow for more time with your guest?

·         Would batching only certain ingredients be useful to execute multiple cocktails with consistency?

·         Will the batch allow for alterations requested by guest?

·         Will the batch create less waste?

 

We can all agree that getting our bartenders out of the weeds and back into giving the guest great service is ideal. Batching should not replace the finesse of bartending, but should create space for guest engagement.

 

DDO said it best, “If you’re a high-volume establishment batching is good, but if you are a small craft cocktail bar, let’s keep the bartender performance romance. I want to see you measure the .25 oz demerara syrup in my Old Fashioned. It gets me going!”