Charles Joly’s Six Simple Rules for Batching Your Own Holiday Cocktails
Your guest list may be shorter this year, but batching cocktails ahead of time remains the ultimate time-saver
The first American to win the Diageo World Class Bartender of the Year competition in London — the most prestigious bartending contest on the planet — Charles Joly has spent more than two decades in the hospitality industry and serves his signature cocktails at the Oscars and Emmys on an annual basis. Also a James Beard Award-winning beverage designer and the winner of NBC’s On the Rocks reality series, Joly’s bartending bona fides are second to none, so when he talks cocktails, we listen.
If you can’t pick up some of his all-natural and pre-bottled Crafthouse Cocktails, Joly suggests the at-home version: brewing up a batch of libations that will save you time and effort once any guests arrive. Though the term batch cocktails may conjure of visions of group events or packed fundraisers, Joly points out they can be just as handy for three or four bubble buddies who are staying safe but want to blow off some steam.
“We certainly should not be gathering in groups right now, but you can still do some batching,” Joly tells InsideHook. “If you mix up a 750ml bottle — the standard size of most liquor bottles — you’re looking at about six or seven cocktails. That will go quickly with a small group of three or four people who may live together. It’s worth having the refill ready to go. You also won’t run into the issue of not having enough ingredients halfway through the night.”
To get started as a home mixologist, you don’t need anything special on hand other than a five- or 10-liter vessel and some bottles (possibly with snap-tops) to pour into as well as a large cambro or another mixing container. In terms of what sort of cocktail you should attempt to make en masse, feel free to use your imagination or simply go with a favorite, according to Joly.
“You can batch up just about any recipe,” he says. “First, make sure your recipe for a single cocktail is balanced and tastes great. Then just multiply by how many servings you’d like. Remember, recipes are just guidelines and taste as you go, just as you would if you’re cooking. Once you get your batching technique dialed in, it really is a great tool.”
But, while any recipe is possible, there are some things to keep in mind when batching up large quantities of cocktails. Here are six tips from Joly.
Drinks that are all spirits (Manhattan, Negroni, etc.) are fantastic to batch up. They will last indefinitely and arguably get better as the ingredients marry over time. If you want to kick it up a notch, you can barrel-age the batches of these cocktails, which will incorporate some woody characteristics.
Cocktails with fresh citrus are fine to batch as well. You’ll just want to be sure to refrigerate them and drink them within a couple of days. It’s more about shelf life when you’re batching fresh.
Hot drinks also batch up wonderfully. Mulled wine and cider, traditional Scandinavian Glogg and such — these are great to have in a hot pot on hand.
More than avoiding ingredients, you do need to pay close attention with some. For example, if your recipe calls for bitters, start with less than you think you need. They have a tendency to blossom in a large batch and can become overbearing. You can always add an extra dash to your individual drink.
Some spirits are finicky. Absinthe and maraschino liqueur are two that come to mind. Stir your batch well to make sure everything is homogenous and then taste to adjust.
If you’re working with sparkling wine or champagne (or other carbonated ingredients), you can batch up the rest of the cocktail and add the fizz when you’re ready to serve. I will pour a bottle of Champagne into a punch bowl, but only if I know it will be consumed pretty quickly.
Need some further inspiration? Here’s the recipe for a big batch of Joly’s Guild Meeting Punch.
Charles Joly’s Guild Meeting Punch
- 2 oz vanilla sugar (muddled with 6 orange peel pieces)
- 16 oz brewed strong chai tea
- 4 oz fresh orange juice
- 2 oz fresh lemon juice
- 2 oz ginger liqueur, (Giffard or Domaine de Canton)
- 2 oz Drambuie
- 6 oz Rye
- 1 lemon
- 1 orange
- Create vanilla sugar by placing a split vanilla bean into a sealed container of sugar for at least 24 hours.
- Use a vegetable peeler to cut six strips of orange peel. Combine peel with sugar and muddle to extract orange oil. Let peels marry with sugar as long as possible (as much as one day as little as a few minutes) to create oleo saccharum.
- Heat water and brew tea with 4-6 bags or to desired strength. Pour brewed tea over sugar mixture and stir to dissolve.
- Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
- Allow to cool, batch in preferred vessel(s) and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Pour over ice and garnish with thinly sliced lemon and orange wheels. Scrape nutmeg. Makes 6-8 servings. Drink within two days.
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