Now that the mini cocktail is no longer just a bartender handshake, it shouldn’t be limited to the purview of bars and bartenders. At the bar, a mini Daiquiri is an amuse-bouche to the rest of a night out; at home, the tiny template is the ultimate entertaining move.
Diminutive drinks are an opportunity: For guests, they make it much easier to sample a variety of drinks—a half-size drink is a fun-size drink. But between greeting arrivals and putting all the final touches on a holiday meal, there’s no time to construct individual tiny Negronis that’ll be downed almost as soon as they’re served. This is where a little prep can be clutch.
Batching, bottling and freezing isn’t just a technique for convenience—it’s a way to ensure a consistently high-quality drink. Pre-bottled and -diluted classics, like freezer Martinis, are ideal for their approachability, and can serve as a great base for layering in decadent ingredients, whether it be alpine amaro or mole bitters. All you need are the home bar staples, a few 1-liter bottles and miniature glassware that can be found at a thrift or antique store or online on sites like Etsy. Look for sellers specializing in vintage cordial glasses or sherry glasses, or ones that offer multicolored mixed sets.
To get started, here are three large-format recipes from bartender and Punch contributor Jack Schramm. Each bottle makes six to eight drinks, at a regular size, or around double that when served in mini coupes or rocks glasses. These recipes take three beloved classics and layer bright, herbaceous and spicy flavors on top. The pre-dilution and freezing, meanwhile, impart a rich, luscious texture. Complex and cold weather appropriate, these mini classics pack a (petite) punch.
Winter Classics, But Make Them Mini
- Mini rocks glasses that are stackable for ultimate entertaining ease
- Mix-and-match shot glasses, for a utilitarian option
- Tiny amber goblets that are warm and welcoming
Taking its name from the alpine amaro Braulio, the Alpine Negroni is perfect for pre-dinner drinking. The amaro lends its signature herbal notes to the expected combination of gin, Campari and sweet vermouth, while a small measure of Champagne acid (a combo of tartaric and lactic acids, dissolved in water) adds a pop of brightness. While you can serve it over a single ice cube with the suggested garnish, the drink is just as good sipped neat.
- Aperitif glasses in a festive color
- Etched cordial coupes that feel appropriately celebratory
- Midcentury glasses with vintage-patterned stems
The smaller format isn’t just for aperitivo: A mini drink is ideal for any transitional drinking. In Schramm’s Manhattan-inspired Hearty Handshake, chai amplifies the spice of rye while a small dose of absinthe balances out the sweetness of an easy-to-make cold brew syrup. Warming and complex, it makes an excellent post-dinner drink.
- Green cordial glasses to channel the star ingredient, Chartreuse
- Teeny liqueur glasses with stems that are sturdy enough to maneuver through a party with
- Mini Martini glasses for their retro appeal
Finally, consider a chocolatey take on the Martini inspired by the après-ski combination of green Chartreuse and hot cocoa for dessert. Here, the Silent Night calls for mole bitters to lend the chocolate notes and gets an aromatic orange twist garnish to finish.