For years, I made myself a Manhattan at the end of the day. Simple, classy. Then the pandemic began. I spent days playing refrigerator Tetris with impossible-to-acquire vegetables and the World’s Last Pork Chops, hopelessly managing my kids’ remote learning and—another Zoom meeting? I was drained. So I switched to vodka on the rocks. It felt appropriate for our draconian spring. Cold and strong? Yes. Celebratory? Not exactly. Vodka on the rocks is what you pour yourself when you feel like you’ve done nothing but work . . . and have nothing but work tomorrow. Vodka resets the existential dread. There’s a reason it’s the spirit of choice for Tolstoy characters.
Then glimmers of hope emerged—warm summer months, outdoor dining, basketball on TV—and vodka didn’t feel right. Yet I didn’t have the energy to stir myself the kind of proper cocktail I’d enjoyed in better days. Quarantine life is difficult, even when it’s not so bad. I determined that my end-of-the-day pick-me-up deserved a cheerier upgrade but with less labor. And so I did something I usually reserved for parties: I prebatched my cocktails by the liter and kept them in the freezer.
At 4:59 I would pour myself an ice-cold Martini or Manhattan or Vieux Carré straight out of a frosty mason jar. That cold cocktail starts a bit more viscous than usual, the taut meniscus at the top of the glass appearing fuller, rounder. The first sip is delectably cold, almost bracingly so, as if it’s telling you: Slow down. The flavor opens up ever so slightly as it warms. The last sips, still cold, are perhaps the best. As they should be. A rare treat for a homemade drink. It was transportive in a way that I hadn’t experienced in a long time.
Large-format, prebatched cocktails have been an old trick that many fancier, higher-volume cocktail bars would implement so you didn’t have to wait 15 minutes for your Negroni should the bar be particularly packed. More recently, they’ve become a staple on the to-go menus of many cocktail bars across the country as well. In Seattle you can get a deft Martini from Rob Roy. One of the all-time greatest Old Fashioned riffs (see below) from Death & Co is available in Denver. At New York’s Dante, bottles of its sublime Negronis can be delivered to your door. I’m sure those who have been buying these have quickly discovered the pleasure of a perfectly dialed-in cocktail from the freezer. It’s there when you need it—nothing wrong with a half-ounce taste whenever—and practically limitless. This can be dangerous, but the awesomeness, the joy, the ephemeral escape, outweigh briefly throwing your self-control to the pandemic winds.
Maybe that’s the real reason I love prebatched cocktails so much: They’re the closest thing to a real cocktail that you hold in a real glass, at a real seat, in a real bar. We will get there eventually. But for now, there’s this. And this is very good.
How to Prebatch Almost Any Stirred Cocktail
Cocktail recipes are ratios, so you can turn any drink into a big bottled one for the freezer by bumping up the volume. (A calculator helps.) Spirit-forward sippers work best, and since you’re not stirring them over ice, add water: in general, .75 oz per serving for Old-Fashioned-style drinks and Negronis, 1.25 to 1.5 oz per serving for Martini- and Manhattan-style cocktails. Below is my favorite bottled Manhattan, plus the Conference, an Old-Fashioned riff, from Death & Co. They’ll fit in a 750ml bottle. A Mason jar works just as well too. A serving is around 4.5 ounces, but at home, you make the rules.
• 11.25 oz rye
• 5 oz sweet vermouth
• .5 oz Angostura bitters
• 7.5 ounces water
• 5 oz Rittenhouse rye
• 5 oz Buffalo Trace bourbon
• 5 oz Groult calvados
• 5 oz Hine H cognac
• 1.5 oz demerara syrup
• 4 oz water
• .25 oz Angostura bitters
• .25 oz Bittermens Xocolatl Mole bitters
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Source : Esquire