Bottled Cocktails: A How-To Guide

standard July 29, 2015 Leave a response
How to Make Bottled Cocktails

No matter what you’re doing this summer, bottled cocktails can make an average event extraordinary. Few activities are more enjoyable than sipping drinks and talking with friends, but dusty fire pits, stadium parking lots and parkland music festivals are not the most hospitable places for bartending equipment. Typically cocktail fans are relegated to chugging beer, drinking highballs (like rum & coke) or sipping liquor straight from the bottle. But thankfully there’s another option: premixed cocktails.

Wherever you go during the warm weather months, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy the flavors of cocktails like a Manhattan, El Presidente or many others. The science of bottled cocktails has come a long way, and with a little bit of knowledge you can whip up delicious mixes that will liven up any outdoor shindig.

Premixed Cocktails: A Bartender’s Dream

Believe it or not, premixed cocktails are a bartender’s dream. The difference between a perfect cocktail and an average one usually boils down to the amount of dilution in the glass. Depending on the cocktail you choose, and the preference of your guests, different amounts of dilution will be necessary. Bottled cocktails eliminate this problem by removing ice from the equation entirely, meaning you can add water to the bottle directly, or dilute after pouring.

This makes premixed cocktails perfect for tailgating drinks, camping nightcaps, and any situation when mixing equipment isn’t available. If done properly, these ready to drink cocktails provide a better taste experience than those shaken or stirred and they’re easier to make beforehand.

Camping: Bottled Cocktails

Premade Drinks: Tips & Tricks

Whether whipping up a batch of camping cocktails or making something different for your next tailgate party, bottling premade drinks is easy. All you’ll need is a minimal set of tools, a smidgen of knowledge, and a few minutes of preparation at most.

Let’s start with some background on the equipment you’ll need, some knowledge you’ll need to select good bottled cocktail recipes and finally the bottling process itself:

The Equipment:

  • A Bottle (obviously): Since our goal is something portable and shareable, we’ll be using a 750ml whiskey bottle (a fifth). You can use whatever kind of container you like, but make sure to adjust the measurements accordingly. You can find a good option here; alternatively if you’d like to avoid corking, swingtop bottles work well too.
  • Corks: We’re not carbonating these cocktails, so heavy-duty caps are not necessary. However, we want to seal the drinks with something a little more reliable than a plastic cap or the flimsy lid that comes on the average liquor bottle. Standard corks work well.
  • Funnel: I don’t care how steady your hands are, you need a funnel. Bartenders use them, so you should too. Funnels allow you to focus on your amounts, not your aim.
  • Pitcher: This will be used to mix your drinks before pouring them into the bottle. It’s important to mix them in a pitcher first so you can taste your work, and dilute or re-balance the mixture when needed. This one’s on the pricey side, but the reviews are solid.
Cocktail Bottling Supplies

The Knowledge:

  • No Shaken Cocktails: Shaken cocktails usually contain unstable elements like cream or egg whites. These ingredients need a powerful shake to mix while with the other contents, which means they have short shelf lives and are not suitable as premixed cocktails. They’ll separate easily, and can go bad if left uncooled. Just stay away.
  • Simple and Sturdy: Uncomplicated cocktails work best as camping or tailgating drinks. These are meant to be a step up from boring highballs and straight shooting. So don’t get obscene by try cram a Ramos Gin Fizz into a bottle; remember simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

The Process

The guidelines for bottling premade cocktails is simple, so stick to these basics and you can be enjoying drinks (almost) anywhere:

  • Keep It Clean: Needless to say, start with clean bottles and bar tools.
  • Combine: Pour the ingredients into your pitcher of choice and stir.
  • Adjust As Necessary: Taste and balance the drink as needed.
  • Bottle: Fill your bottle(s), seal them and give them a swish for good measure
  • Chill: Cool your bottled cocktails right away.

That’s it!

Bottling Cocktails

Bottled Cocktail Recipes

Needless to say there are plenty of great bottled cocktail recipes and here are a couple to get started. But if you’d like a few more, subscribe to The Cocktail Novice and you’ll be sent three more!

The Manhattan

The Manhattan is a classic cocktail you should all be familiar with. Perfect as a bottled cocktail, it’s simple, sturdy, and doesn’t need to be shaken. And since it’s a rye-based drink, it works well for colder conditions like huddled around a fire or out in a stadium parking lot for a tailgate. The Manhattan has a history and an upscale reputation, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyed in the cozy confines of the backwoods.

To fill a 750ml bottle you need:

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The Negroni

Another classic that’s perfect as a premixed cocktail is the Negroni; it carries a sophisticated reputation without being pretentious. Also described in last year’s post The Negroni: Sophistication in a Glass this cocktail is well suited for a hot day on the beach or late afternoon on a warm camping day. Although there are some Negroni fans out there who might think bottling this cocktail is a travesty, but brush them aside; this will be among your favorite ready to drink cocktails during your next nature-filled jaunt.

To fill a 750ml bottle you need:

  • 8 oz. of Campari
  • 8 oz. of Sweet Vermouth
  • 8 oz. of Gin
  • 3 Orange Slices

Extra Hint: When bottling this cocktail, add the orange slices into the bottle after you have mixed the other ingredients and poured them inside. The drink will become infused with orange flavors this way.

Have Fun & Get Creative

Whether you’re looking for tailgating drinks for the next big game, or some tasty camping cocktails for an upcoming outdoor adventure, the addition of bottled cocktails will make it special.

Although the bottled Manhattan and Negroni are sure to please, get creative by developing your own recipes! Just remember the basic rules: no shaken cocktails, and stick to simple bottled cocktail recipes. Furthermore if you’re planning to take these drinks somewhere without adequate cooling, stay away from creams and other perishable ingredients – unless you want homemade yogurt in your cocktail.

A properly mixed and prepared bottled cocktail can be a lifesaver that makes an outdoor adventure a little more interesting. Learn the basics, and start experimenting!

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Dietrich Neu is a journalist and blogger with over nine years’ experience working in award-winning bars and restaurants throughout Canada. When he’s not busy behind the stick, he spends his free time writing about sports, politics, and culture