That quick and dirty sangria you made in your university days probably doesn’t cut it anymore. Your standards are higher now, and so are those of your friends. And there’s no reason you can’t batch up a damn fine drink for that summer music festival or a party with your mates.
The drinks you usually associate with a good night out – Martinis, Negronis – are easy to batch up to take to the park or a festival, says Ollie Margan of Adelaide bar Maybe Mae.
Margan says to keep in mind that when these drinks are made behind the bar, they’re usually “stirred down” with ice, which dilutes the drink. He says to keep dilution in mind when you’re topping up your mates plastic cups, otherwise your cocktail might taste a little strong. If you’re serving your batched drink at home Margan suggests pre-diluting it (adding water) and tasting as you go to ensure you’re getting the flavours you’re looking for.
“It’s something that you can just keep in the freezer and pour straight into a cold glass and it’s ready to go,” Margan says. Be wary of stronger ingredients, such as bitters, which may not scale up directly. Two dashes in a single cocktail doesn’t always equal 20 in a batched-up version ¬Margan explains – again, tasting as you go is important.
“If you get [a single cocktail] wrong by 10 per cent, it’s probably not going to be that big of a big deal, but if you get 10 per cent wrong over 10 litres, the drink can be quite different.”
James Connolly, group bar manager of the Perth group that owns Market Grounds, says another mistake that’s easy to make is adding fresh ingredients to a batched drink too early in the process, which can cause them to oxidise and take on unpleasant flavours.
“As a general rule, the fresh ingredients always have to remain fresh. Things like liquor, liqueurs, syrups and bitters, you can pre-batch those.”
“Maybe you just like to have Old Fashioneds at home on a Friday night? You could make up a whole bottle’s worth and as long as you keep it sealed up in the fridge and drink it over a short period of time, six weeks rather than six months, whenver you want an Old Fashioned you can just pull it out and away you go.”
Once you’ve batched up your drink, Michael Chiem of inventive Sydney bar PS40 says a little bit of crowd participation and interactivity goes a long way.
“I’ve been to a few house parties where the cocktails were really good but the things surrounding the cocktails were even better. Say, for example, you have your cocktail pre-batched, and then on the side a little container with fresh ice, garnishes, spare glasses. It’s kind of a DIY situation,” Chiem says. “It’s a little bit of an experience for people to mix their own drinks as well.”
Jess Moxon, from Brisbane Bar Electric Avenue, adds that details are everything, and little investments such as bottles and personalisation can take your batched drink from fine to fab.
“We went out to a park one time and one of the girls had made bottled cocktails with her own labels, which is really creative,” Moxon says. She says bottles can be bought cheaply, and recommends looking for those with cork stoppers, for some old-fashioned flair.
If you’re planning a dinner party at home, Moxon suggests batching up some Espresso Martinis for after-dinner fun.
“You could pre-batch vodka and Kahlua, but you could also pre-batch a little bit with Cointreau for a Jaffa version, or one with white-chocolate liqueur. Then you have a whole assortment of Espresso Martini bases and you can serve it with a nip of coffee on the side,” she says.
Making one cocktail can be pretty daunting, so making enough Espresso Martinis for a whole dinner party may sound even scarier, especially if it involves working with ingredients you’ve never used. If you haven’t spent time behind the bar, then you may be unsure where to start. Huw Griffiths of Melbourne’s Union Electric has a simple shortcut: ask the bartenders at your favourite drinking spot. They’re generally keen to share their knowledge, and will provide “a sniff, and maybe a taste” of the alcohol in question, Griffiths says.
When it comes to constructing your own, as a basic rule, Chiem says making batched cocktails is about “minimum effort for the best result possible.”
He measures by the bottle rather than being precise, and uses what he has on hand. His general rules are two parts alcohol, one part something sweet, one part sour (think citrus), and three parts ice or water. Just top it off with a splash of sparkling wine, and add fresh herbs.
Here are four to get you started from some of Australia’s best bars.
Bucket Dark and Stormy
Maybe Mae, Adelaide
Three parts aged rum
Two parts ginger and honey syrup
Two parts lime juice (throw the husks in too)
Three to five parts soda water (to taste)
This one is as simple as mixing all the ingredients into a bucket and chilling it with ice. Margan suggests freezing water in a lunch box or tupperware container to make large blocks of ice. The more surface area the better, and it’ll help keep your drink nice and cool without diluting the drink as your posse enjoys it.
Union Electric, Melbourne
Three parts Coco Lopez (coconut cream available at good bottle shops)
Four parts Bombay Sapphire
Two parts dry curacao
Three parts lemon juice
Batch it in a large bottle, shake it up to blend through the coconut, and pour over ice. Alternatively combine the gin and curacao ahead of time and mix in lemon and Coco Lopez to serve. Garnish with edible flowers, an orange twist and pineapple frond.
Margarita for 10
Market Grounds, Perth
250ml lime juice
50ml agave nectar
Pre-rim 10 glasses (or red solo cups) with lime and salt before your guests arrive, or your fellow festivalgoers are ready for a drink. Combine all ingredients and blend or shake with ice to serve.
White-Chocolate Espresso Martini
Electric Avenue, Brisbane
One part white chocolate
Two parts Kahlua
Three parts vodka
Combine and keep cool. Pour into glassware, with a shot of coffee on the side. (If you’re somewhere with a fridge or something like it, chill your glasses first.)