Pre-batching, draft and bottled cocktails continues to offer busy operators a way to serve high quality drinks faster. Cocktail and culinary consultant Kathy Casey brings an all-star team to this month's VIBE conference on best batching practices.
VIBE: Your panel this year at VIBE is once again taking on the trends of bottled, draft and batched cocktails - what's new this time that makes a repeat worthwhile?
Kathy Casey: We're calling this "Cocktails on Tap, a long-term relationship, not just a fling; pre-batching your way to craft cocktail success 2.3." We're going to take aloof at all the types of methods of producing, preserving and quickly serving all kinds of cocktails in a way that high quality drinks served fast can be something anyone can do.
VIBE: Are there any particular things in this area that are easier for large chain operations to pick up than others?
Casey: I think a lot of times people are scared to try something because they are afraid that it will take a lot of new investment, but that's not always the case. I think any operation can pull off one of their existing taps and try cocktails on it - so many more places have wine taps as well as beer taps, it's something that can be very easily tried, at least. And pre-batching, well, that's something many chains already do in one way or another, seven if it's just assembling every ingredient other than sprits in advance, or even including the spirit, it can really add consistency.
Remember with pre-batching, the idea is to batch a better and more consistent, high quality cocktail. Large volume places that get really slammed at a certain time, where a lot of customers want it quick, this can be a life-saver and money-maker.
VIBE: Pre-batching is one thing, but bottling cocktails - can't that be labor and equipment intensive?
Casey: You can start bottling cocktails with surprisingly little equipment. I just use one of these hand bottle-cappers. It really is not that difficult to experiment on trying one of these bottled cocktail programs in terms of equipment.
However, a lot of people don't understand dilution very well, so it's important whether its draft cocktails or bottling that you make one drink how you would always make it at service, measure carefully and make certain it tastes the way you prefer and to then measure the dilution factor. That amount of dilution is the amount of water you'll add when batching the cocktail, for use in bottles or draft. Now, for some, especially if the drink is going to be served on the rocks, you might dilute a little less to anticipate how it will then also dilute over ice. But either way, it's important that you use your own ice and ingredients just as f you were making the drink and then create the dilution batch recipe.
VIBE: Are certain drinks better targets for this sort of system?
Casey: Punches or Slings are great ways to approach it, but one of the main issues is citrus. If you're preaching and legging citrus cocktails, you need to have a system where you are agitating the container on a regular basis, implement a system where every four or six hours someone gives that keg a little shake to disperse the citrus. And I really urge people doing this type of cocktail to use a purchased fresh citrus that is pasteurized and safe, from a consistent purveyor.