It’s the age-old question of hosting a party: Do you serve simple drinks so you can spend more time mingling, or do you get fancy at the risk of being stuck shaking and muddling all night while everyone else has fun? The answer: have it both ways, and the best way to do that is with a batched cocktail. Made in advance, punch bowl concoctions or scaled-up versions of classic cocktails are every bit as sophisticated as those that come out of a shaker or mixing glass one at a time. The benefits go beyond simply saving you man power: You can keep the mixtures in a freezer until they reach a syrup-thick coldness before serving, you can create a memorable centerpiece out of your pitcher or punch bowl, and the base spirits can even extend the life of perishable ingredients.
Whether you’re prepping for a holiday party, New Year’s celebration, or some other get together, batch cocktails are a smart play. Here are three distinct batch cocktail recipes to consider making, as well as advice from mixologists and drink experts about how to serve them properly.
1. The Classic: A Rum Punch
Rum Punch is the mixological equivalent of pizza; it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, you’re going to like it. It’s unpretentious, festive by nature, and a good opportunity to go wild with presentation.
“These days, we’re missing the core hospitality piece, and batched cocktails can satisfy that,” says restaurateur Edward Crouse, of the much-lauded Charleston café and bar, Babas on Cannon. “I think about garnishing the whole thing as part of the theater,” adds Crouse, who’s been known to serve a strong batched cocktail in a hollowed-out pineapple in a punch bowl, surrounded by a lower-alcohol cocktail or spritz so guests can choose how they want the night to go.
Here’s a classic Rum Punch recipe from rum importer and Rum Collective founder Nicholas Feris.
Classic Rum Punch Recipe
- 1oz. Fresh Lime Juice (Or lemon juice, if you want a softer acidic tone)
- 1 ¼ oz. Grenadine Syrup (Grenadine adds a brilliant color from the Hibiscus)
- 3 oz. Rum (Feris likes to mix 2oz of RumFire overproof un-aged rum and 1oz of aged Hampden Estate rum for added depth of flavor)
- 2 oz. Orange Juice
- 2 oz. Pineapple Juice (Feris’ tip: you can use any juices or water or tea for the weak ingredient that doesn’t contain alcohol. Weak is about lowering proof, increasing volume, and adding flavors that work with the rum, balanced by the sweet and sour)
- 5 dashes of bitters – (Feris likes the classic Angostura)
Multiply the ingredients by the number of servings you want to make, and when you’re ready to serve, pour it over ice in a punch bowl or serve it in a pitcher with ice on the side. Garnish each individual drink with finely grated nutmeg.
2. The Fancier Option: A Batched Negroni
If your guests are up for a serious cocktail, nothing batches better than a Negroni. Because of its 1:1:1 ratio, it’s very easy to simply take a bottle of gin, a bottle of red vermouth, a bottle of Campari and pour them all together. You can also pretty much guarantee that things will get interesting at that party.
Jared Brown, the master distiller of London’s Sipsmith Gin, keeps batched Negroni in crystal decanters at his home in Bath, England. “You don’t have to stop the party to keep drinking,” says Brown, who also notes that the gin stabilizes the vermouth, so you don’t have to refrigerate it once you mix it. Normally, vermouth needs to be refrigerated after it’s opened, and should be consumed within about a month. Mixing it with gin on arrival extends its shelf-life indefinitely.
Edward Crouse likes a choose-your-own adventure version of the Negroni, where you mix the vermouth and bitter base, and let guests pick their base spirit. Here’s how he does it.
Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Negroni Recipe
- 1oz. Bitter (Campari, Leopold Bros. Aperitivo, and Bordiga Bitter are all great choices)
- 1oz. Red Vermouth (Crouse uses Dolin Rouge; Antica Formula and Cocchi are also stellar options)
- Mix these in equal parts, then allow guests to choose ONE of the following…
- 1oz. Gin (Crouse likes Citadelle French Gin; Sipsmith London Dry Gin, and Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin will also elevate the Negroni)
- 1oz. Mezcal (Doña Vega, Madre Mezcal, and Ilegal Mezcal are great choices)
- 1oz. Whiskey (Now, technically speaking, this makes the Negroni a Boulevardier. High proof whiskies stand up well to the vermouth and Bitter, such as Old Forester 1920 and Whistlepig 10-year)
- 1oz. Rum (A dry and funky rum stands up well to the Campari. Such bottles as Hampden Estate Overproof, Smith & Cross Jamaica Rum, or R.L. Seale’s Barbados Rum would be great.)
As for garnishes, an orange twist is customary with a Negroni, but bartender Miguel Buencamino, also known by his mixology influencer moniker, @holycityhandcraft, has a great trick for batching his garnishes: he dehydrates blood orange slices in advance because they’re not only beautiful, but you don’t have to do any cutting when you’re serving the drinks.
3. The Lower ABV Option: The Spritz
For a lower alcohol option, a spritz is a perfect candidate for a batched cocktail. At his café, Crouse has been serving an off-menu spritz lately that he says guests are “destroying” – both because of its taste and stunning presentation. It’s called the Babas Spritz Riff, and it’s an excellent choice for a party.
Babas Spritz Recipe
- Two 750ml bottles of Lambrusco (Crouse uses Folicello)
- One 750 ml bottle orange or red aperitif (He uses Aperol; Bordiga Aperitivo and Sirene Canto Amaro are additional riffs)
- One 750 ml bottle of dry vermouth (He uses Dolin Blanc; Mulassano Bianco is a unique Italian variant)
“Make it rain with the garnish,” says Crouse. “Any citrus you’ve got, herbs, cherries, tropical vibes like pineapple leaves, mango slices, or even something salty like olives, pickled okra, or cornichons.”
So there you have it. These batched cocktail recipes are a crowd pleaser and help you spend more time with your friends and less time working the shaker. A host’s dream.
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