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The do’s and don’ts of batching cocktails at home

Having thirsty friends over? Ready some big batch cocktails, but do so wisely, with this guide

A group of people toasting with their drinks at a party.
Mikolette M/ / Adobe Stock

Imagine, you invite friends to your place for a small get-together. Everyone brings a dish, but you are in charge of cocktails. If you are wondering how you can keep up with the demands of your thirsty friends, while also actually enjoying their company, the answer is the big batch cocktail.

Bars all over the world have used this technique for two reasons: Efficiency and consistency. Now, your home is no professional cocktail bar. You won’t be slinging out hundreds of cocktails over the course of an evening (if you are, let’s talk about that), so batching at home doesn’t have to be as strict as it would be in that sort of business setting.

That said, there are some hard dos and don’ts when it comes to batching that are important to keep in mind regardless, and we are here to lay out the ground rules for you. If you’re pre-batching cocktails, here are some things to know.

A round of Palomas.
Maryna Voronoma / Adobe Stock

Do: Scale up recipes and measure accurately

When batching, you are taking a cocktail recipe and multiplying it by however many serves you hope to have. One of the simplest ways to do this is by transposing ounces into cups, which should make at least a round of four cocktails, but you can scale your recipe to your desired volume.

Precision is key to a balanced and delicious batched cocktail, so you’ll want to make sure you are measuring cocktail ingredients accurately, since the margin for error is much larger when you are dealing with cups instead of ounces. Use a measuring cup that has ounces, or milliliters, written out so you can pinpoint even the smaller proportions of the ingredients.

Tom Collins.
ivanmateev / Adobe Stock

Do: Sort out if you want to pre-dilute or mix cocktails à la minute

When you batch ingredients, you can either add the water before or after you batch.

For stirred cocktails, pre-diluting beforehand is typically the move. The entire cocktail gets to blend together while chilling in your fridge, or freezer (depending on the ABV), and it will closely resemble a properly stirred cocktails. This method is used by many cocktail bars for their Martinis, Negronis, and so on. If the cocktail is served up, you’ll need more water; and if it’s served down over ice, you’ll add less water. The percentage of dilution that you’ll need will be somewhere between 20-30% (the higher end of the range being for cocktails served up, and the lower end for ones served over ice), so my recommendation is to play around with a few batches and figure out how much dilution you prefer.

For shaken cocktails, pre-diluting is possible, but you’ll still have to shake to agitate the mix and get a texturally sound tipple. The positive about that is that you don’t have to use ice since you’ll already have the drink chilled and diluted. If you decide not to pre-dilute, then you can batch the entire cocktail and shake it with ice at the moment of service. This would be my recommended approach for overall quality, but you really can’t put a price on convenience, so just do you.

Making a cocktail
Arina P Habich / Shutterstock

Don’t: Batch perishable ingredients, such as egg whites or milk

There isn’t much more to say about this rule other than don’t do it. It’s gross, it doesn’t work, and I’m not sure you’d even want to add these ingredients to your cocktails, but just in case. Everyone loves a good whiskey (or pisco) sour with egg white, but they are best made individually, or with select ingredients batched. Egg white takes a substantial amount of agitation by shaking in order to achieve the desired frothy texture that it adds to cocktails and batched cocktails are not the best format for these types of drinks.

Making cocktails at a bar
Dan Baker / The Manual

Don’t: Leave batched cocktails with citrus for longer than two days

A bartender reading this might feel appalled that this statement is even included, but batching with citrus at home is okay as long as you have the expectation that the batch won’t be viable for longer than a couple of days. Ideally, your batched margarita, gimlet, daiquiri, or whiskey sour should be drunk within the same day that you prep it, but if you leave it in the fridge for a couple of days longer, you’ll still be able to drink it because of the alcohol and syrup that help improve its shelf life.

Naturally, grapefruit, orange, and pineapple juices stay fresher longer because they aren’t as acidic as lemon or lime, so you might get a couple of extra days out of those ingredients, but they’ll almost always be paired with their more acidic counterparts for balance, anyway. If you want to batch some of the ingredients a few days beforehand as some bars do for a margarita, for example, then you’d batch the Tequila and triple sec and then add the citrus à la minute.

Batched Paloma


  1. Combine tequila, lime juice, and sea salt in a small pitcher and mix to dissolve some of the salt.
  2. To serve, fill a highball glass with ice, then pour 3 ounces of the batch, briefly stir, then top with grapefruit soda.
  3. Garnish with half a grapefruit wheel. (Optional: Salted rim for the highball glass.)

Pre-Diluted Negroni Batch


  1. Add all ingredients to a container of choice (preferably a glass bottled), then store in the freezer until desired use.
  2. Pour over ice in a double rocks glass to serve, and garnish with an orange twist.

Batched Airmail


  1. Combine all ingredients (except the Champagne) in a blender and add a heaping handful of ice.
  2. Blend until the lime juice is frothy and the ice has completely dissolved.
  3. In a highball glass, fill it with a little bit of Champagne (approximately 1½ ounces), then add ice.
  4. Pour the blended mix over the Champagne and ice, and garnish with fresh mint.
Juice in pitchers.
RebaSpike / Pixabay

How should I store a big batch cocktail?

That all depends on how much you’re making. Really large format volumes may require a special vessel, like a pony keg or large, well-sealing cooler or thermos. For average scale-ups, consider pitchers or a good punch bowl, provided you can cover it. If you’re feeling really rustic, procure a small barrel or other wooden vessel that you can draw individual drinks from. Take a trip to your local kitchen or restaurant supply store and see what’s available in the bar section. You’re likely to find some great fridge-ready containers. And there’s no law that says you have to have the entire big batch cocktail in a single container, so get multiple if need be.

Note that you can batch out just about anything with the right ratios, from your favorite dishes to the best mocktail recipes. Make sure there’s room in your freezer or fridge if the drink needs to stay cool. If you need additional cocktail inspiration, read our favorite summer cocktails recipes.

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Mark Stock
Mark Stock is a writer from Portland, Oregon. He fell into wine during the Recession and has been fixated on the stuff since…
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