Pre-Batching Cocktails for Success

2016

There has been a lot of talk about cocktails on tap (COTs), bottled cocktails, and modern blended and frozen cocktails. Not long ago at all the mere mention of any sort of pre-batched cocktails was met with scorn. After all, this New Cocktail Era is all about authenticity, craft and fresh ingredients and ideas – how can anything made ahead of time possibly be good? Surely nobody is interested in this fad.

Well, that “fad” has picked up quite a bit of steam, evolving into a trend. This trend was discussed at length during the 2016 VIBE Conference that took place in San Diego in January. Liquid Kitchen’s Kathy Kasey took an in-depth look at pre-batched cocktails with the help of Keith Waldbauer, Heather Jones, Jason Anderson and Danny Ronen.

Kathy and the Liquid Kitchen team jumped right into the topic at hand with the big question: Why pre-batching? The answer is simple: pre-batched drinks solve two big problem, consistency and speed. Maybe guests were patient during cocktail culture’s resurgence and willing to wait 10 to 20 minutes for their order, but all of that is over. Everybody wants a well-made cocktail but nobody wants to wait for one. COTs, bottled drinks, pre-mixed and finished drinks, and template bases for banquets and other special events are all win-wins. After all, the staff can serve more beverages to more guests in less time, and guests are pleased that they’re not waiting more than a few minutes for their orders.

If you’re thinking that such beverages are limited in quality, complexity and sophistication, that’s just not true. Margaritas, sangrias, mojito variants, complicated and multi-ingredient beverages can all be pre-batched. The best part? Pre-batching can turn a 7-ingredient cocktail, for example, into a 2-ingredient beverage:

How to convert a drink recipe - Kathy Kasey Liquid Kitchen

Kathy also shared how to convert a recipe for pre-batching:

How to convert a cocktail recipe for batching - Kathy Kasey Liquid Kitchen

Along with how to convert a recipe for a cocktail that will be shaken and poured over ice:

How to convert a cocktail recipe for dilution - Kathy Kasey Liquid Kitchen

The Liquid Kitchen demonstration drove home several pre-batching equipment best practices. It is crucial that the bar equipment meant for measuring and batching be kept separate from kitchen equipment? It’s fair to say that no one really wants a garlic-flavored cocktail. So, mark all bar equipment with blue electrical tape and lock it all away in a cage. Provide the bar with lots of clear measuring cups (marked “cups,” not “quarts”); a measuring cup for each ingredient. Make sure the bar has a “large opening” funnel and a large regular funnel, plenty of Cambros with lids, a large whisk, a large spatula, a bottle brush if you plan to bottle beverages, and Velcro.

Speaking of equipment, COTs in particular present the issue of space. Not only do these cocktails require designated equipment, they need a designated space. Kathy suggests converting an existing space or walk-in. Tanks should be self-agitating and carbonating, and the gas should be beer gas or CO2. Make sure there’s room for connections, gauges, wine lines, tags and clips.

Along with equipment best practices, Kathy shared training best practices. Give everyone handouts, keep everything simple using easy and creative language, build your batchers’ muscle memories by making training hands-on, designate cocktail culture keepers, and make sure batching is fun.

If you’re still unsure about how pre-batching can work for you, consider the following case studies:

Cocktails on tap case study number 1 - Kathy Kasey Liquid Kitchen

Cocktails on tap case study number 2 - Kathy Kasey Liquid Kitchen

And, of course, be sure to look into the legality of offering pre-batched cocktails in the area in which you operate:

Pre-batched cocktails and the law - Kathy Kasey Liquid Kitchen