Though the benefits of batching and freezing a cocktail can’t be disputed, this time of year allows the genius of the practice to really shine.
In a bar setting, the technique allows for greater efficiency and consistency. A perfectly balanced, ice-cold Martini can arrive in front of a guest within seconds, all the prep having taken place the night before, with the added bonus of a richer mouthfeel thanks to the subzero temperature. At home, the practice promises similar benefits: When the craving for a cocktail arises, simply reach for the bottle in the freezer and pour a ready-to-drink Negroni, Manhattan or another spirit-forward creation. After a busy day, it can be a real gift from your past self to your present self.
But, with a little care put into the preparation and presentation, it can become a gift for just about anyone on your list. With the help of bartender Jack Schramm, we’ve compiled everything you need to give three classics a holiday spin. So this year, why not give the gift of a giant Negroni?
For bottling approximately six or so cocktails, try these 750ml bottles with rubber stop tops. Each one will hold exactly one batch of Schramm’s winterized Manhattan, the Hearty Handshake, or his herbal Martini, Silent Night. For anything larger, like the Alpine Negroni, we recommend these swing-top Bormioli bottles, which hold between eight and nine cocktails.
If you prefer to gift several smaller cocktails, we recommend these 187ml bottles, which can be sealed with crown caps, giving them a polished look that defies just how easy the drink was to prepare. If you make Schramm’s modified Manhattan or Martini below, you’ll wind up with four bottles, while his Alpine Negroni will yield five with a snack-sized pour leftover for the bartender.
Crown Caps and Capper
To seal the bottles, metal crown caps are easily procured online and come in a variety of colors to add a personal, festive touch to your ready-to-drink cocktail. Just don’t forget that you’ll also need a simple hand-held capper to pinch the cap onto the bottle.
Lastly, you’ll want a gift tag to indicate exactly what is in the bottle and how best to consume it.
Photo: Eric Medsker
Three Holiday-Ready Cocktails
Each of the following recipes is designed to be batched ahead of time and stored in the freezer. For optimal results, transfer the cocktail to the refrigerator an hour before serving.
This winterized Negroni takes its name from the alpine amaro Braulio, which lends its signature gentian notes to the expected combination of gin, Campari and sweet vermouth. A small measure of Champagne acid (an easily procured combo of tartaric and lactic acids, dissolved in water) adds a pop of brightness. Combined with the appropriate amount of water for dilution, this Negroni can be stored in the freezer until ready to serve, at which point Schramm recommends pouring it into a rocks glass over a large ice cube, garnished with a lemon twist.
The inspiration for this slightly herbal Martini came from the unorthodox combination of green Chartreuse and hot chocolate. “This is basically the Martini version of that,” explains Schramm, of his blend of gin, blanc vermouth, green Chartreuse and mole bitters. When ready to drink, pour it into a coupe and garnish with an orange twist.
A Manhattan with the fireside appeal turned up to 11, Schramm’s Hearty Handshake sees the traditional rye and sweet vermouth combo kicked up with an easy-to-make treacle flavored with cold-brew concentrate and chai. A few dashes of absinthe counterbalances the sweetness. Serve up in a coupe with an orange twist.