The Craft

The ultimate resource for alcohol beverage news, trends and reports for bars, distributors and suppliers.

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The holidays are here and with it, the gift-giving season. No longer should gift giving be limited to a special bottle of wine or spirit, bars can look to their cocktail menus to batch, bottle and sell special cocktails that make for a unique and delicious gift for customers. Depending on the laws of your city or state, selling bottled cocktails at your bar or restaurant is a way to drive additional revenue and maximize holiday sales. 

We put together a list of five easy-to-batch cocktails that can be packaged and sold over the holidays. But before you can start selling, it’s important to stock up on the products and packaging needed to get the job done. 

Stock Up On Products and Packaging That Fits Your Brand

'Before you start the process, a plan of action is needed. For example, ask how many cocktails you plan to batch and sell for the holidays. If you make too little, you risk maximizing profits and alienating customers who may be looking for that unique gift to give. Make too much and you’re sitting on excess stock (however, it’s important to note that bottled cocktails can be sold year-round, so consider how you intend to brand and package the products). 

AdobeStock_395393017Speaking of branding and packaging, you’ll need to consider how you want the bottles to look. Dante, a world-class cocktail bar in New York City, brands and packages its cocktail gift boxes to fit the bar’s theme and brand. Make sure you source quality packaging supplies that will withstand moisture and cold temperatures like those of a fridge or freezer. Additionally, the type of bottle and cap you choose is important to consider. A screw-top allows for an airtight seal that can even include shrink-wrapping to further seal it. Cooktops are more aesthetically pleasing but may be more expensive at scale. These are just a few things to consider when bottling cocktails to sell. 

Batch Cocktail Recipes That Make Perfect Gifts

For these recipes, we’ve listed out measurements in parts (as well as for a single cocktail) to accommodate whatever size container you happen to use. Also note, these recipes do not involve dilution, so you will need to specify on your packaging that the cocktails should be shaken or stirred before pouring into a glass at home. However, should you choose to promote each cocktail as ready-to-drink, dilution will be necessary before bottling. A good rule of thumb is that each cocktail should contain around 25%-30% water after being shaken or stirred (this can vary depending on the cocktail, however).  For the average 3-ounce cocktail, this comes out to be a little over ½ ounce. We recommend building and diluting a single serving, tasting it, and adjusting the recipe before batching. 

If you want to get technical with it, you can reference Dave Arnold’s Liquid Intelligence and weigh a single cocktail before and after and note the difference. 

Manhattan

Apart from the Martini and Old Fashioned, The Manhattan is as classic as it gets. This beautiful amalgamation of whiskey, sweet vermouth and bitters create a warming cocktail laden with toasted wood notes, dark red fruits and rich baking spices like clove and vanilla that are reminiscent of the holiday season. 

INGREDIENTS

In parts

2 parts Bourbon or Rye Whiskey

1 part Sweet Vermouth

Angostura bitters*

For a single drink

2 oz. Bourbon or Rye Whiskey

1 oz. Sweet Vermouth

2 dashes Angostura bitters

DIRECTIONS

Combine and stir all ingredients to fully incorporate before bottling.

*The amount of Angostura bitters depends on the total number of drinks in the batch. A single Manhattan should contain 2 dashes of bitters. Multiply that number by the total number of drinks to get an accurate count. 

Negroni

The Negroni is the perfect cocktail to get friends and family loosened up for conversation before dinner or to settle down as one comes to a close. The Negroni is perennial, meaning it can be enjoyed throughout the year, regardless of seasonality or weather. However, it works especially well over the holidays, thanks to the juniper-forward flavor of gin that is representative of a pine forest, the rich baking spices of sweet vermouth, and the bitter, dark red fruit notes that come from Campari.

INGREDIENTS

In parts

1 part Navy-Strength Gin*

1 part Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth

1 part Campari

For a single drink

1 oz. Navy-Strength Gin*

1 oz. Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth

1 oz. Campari

DIRECTIONS

Combine and stir all ingredients to fully incorporate before bottling.

*I suggest using a higher-proof gin that will go round for round with a heavier and more robust sweet vermouth like Carpano Antica Formula. However, if you choose a more standard gin, Dolin Sweet Vermouth works equally well.

Bijou

Similar in build to the Negroni, the Bijou cocktail is equal parts gin, sweet vermouth and Green Chartreuse. Invented in the late 1900s, it is commonly attributed to bartender Harry Johnson, who included the recipe in his book, The Bartender’s Manual. “Bijou” is French for “Jewel” and its ingredients are thought to represent select gems (gin=diamonds; sweet vermouth=rubies; Chartreuse=emeralds). While many bartenders today choose to dial back the vermouth and Chartreuse and up the level of gin, we’re presenting the original recipe which called for equal parts. 

INGREDIENTS

In parts

1 part gin

1 part sweet vermouth

1 part Green Chartreuse

Orange bitters*

For a single drink

1 oz. gin

1 oz. sweet vermouth

1 oz. Green Chartreuse

1 dash orange bitters

DIRECTIONS

Combine and stir all ingredients to fully incorporate before bottling.

*Since a single drink contains 1 dash of orange bitters, scale the number of dashes by the total number of drinks in the batch.

Vesper Martini

Add a dose of 007 to holiday cocktail parties with this famous spirit-forward libation created by none other than James Bond’s creator Ian Fleming. The suave nature of this cocktail is only surpassed by its simplicity and ease of mixing up in a batch variety. The novelty and relative obscurity also make for a great gift and conversation starter. 

INGREDIENTS

In parts

3 parts gin

1 part vodka

½ part Lillet Blanc

For a single drink

3 oz. gin

1 oz. vodka

½ oz Lillet Blanc or Cocchi Americano

DIRECTIONS

Combine and stir all ingredients to fully incorporate before bottling.

Old-Fashioned

Last but not least, the Old Fashioned is a tried and true favorite and makes for an easy-to-batch, no-brainer cocktail to bottle and sell. Note, you’ll need to make simple syrup ahead of time before batching and bottling. Additionally, we’re presenting this recipe for a single drink only. For batching at scale, multiply measurements by the total number of cocktails you intend to batch. 

INGREDIENTS

For a single drink

2 oz. Bourbon or Rye

½ oz. simple syrup*

2-3 dashes of Angostura Bitters

DIRECTIONS

Combine and stir all ingredients to fully incorporate before bottling.

*Simple syrup is a 1:1 ratio of sugar and filtered water. Heat water in a clean pot and add sugar until the sugar is fully dissolved. Chill the solution in the refrigerator before adding it to the batch. 

 

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