Pre-batch cocktails have become a big trend in the UK On-Trade over the past few years. It's regarded as a great way of streamlining cocktail service. Let's be honest, many customers don’t enjoy a long wait at the bar for their drink. Yet, the pros and cons of pre-batching is a hot point of debate, so we’ve gathered some cocktail professionals to give us their view on the topic.
“The response from consumers has been varied,” says Bulleit Bourbon brand ambassador Jenna Ba, “but ultimately positive”. Monkey Shoulder Brand Ambassador John Wayte adds, “The top bars in the world are currently pre-batching. These are bars that win the best bar in the world awards and their guests certainly do not complain”. This is certainly true, but why? What are the benefits of pre-batch cocktails?
"There is the opportunity to be very accurate with your ingredients and measurements which allows you to control your margin”By Jenna Ba, Bulleit Bourbon
“The biggest benefit is obviously time because you enjoy quicker speeds of service. You have the time to pre-plan recipes and are able to standardise procedures for team members,” says Jenna Ba, “secondly, standardised procedures create reliability and consistency of each drink. The third benefit is money. There is the opportunity to be very accurate with your ingredients and measurements which allows you to control your margin”.
“The benefits of pre-batching cocktails was recently described by Ally Kelsey of Mr Lyan, he said, ‘if you mess up 1 or 2ml of liquid in a 100ml drink you are upsetting the balance by 1 or 2%. If you do the same in a pre-batch of 1 litre the difference that the 1 or 2ml makes is a lot smaller’”.
“There are a number of negatives that need to be assessed, however”, says Bulleit’s Jenna Bar, “Pre-batch cocktails are a large investment of money and space. You need to know what will go where, how long it will last and ask if it last for as long as you need it”. “The main argument against pre-batching is that it is taking away the theatre of cocktail making” adds John Wayte, “however when you do pre-batching well you can still allow for the theatre. Keep the shaking and stirring by pre-batching the majority of ingredients and then finish in front of the guest”.
What other tips does John have for getting pre-batching right? “Pre-batch before service, using de-labelled bottles to store your liquids, better yet, create your own labels for a premium look”, John adds. “You have to use very accurate scales, accurate jugs and always make sure you are using the same ones when measuring the same liquid to remove the chance of discrepancies”, Jenna comments, “you should know your proportions in ratios as this means you can replicate this each time. You also need to closely monitor dilution and temperature in the pre-batching stage as you want it chilled and diluted perfectly because there is no option to do so afterwards”.
“Pre-batching cocktails gives us the time to focus on delivery rather than production” asserts Jenna Ba, “we are all suckers for a good story and the cocktails we serve should have a story. When I pre-batch I find there is a capacity to find different ways of infusing flavours and creating new cocktails because you are working in litres rather than a single drink where the impact can be minimal - you get to go big and serve different flavours with different garnishes for the customer”.
“Don’t be scared of using pre-batched cocktails”, pleads Monkey Shoulder's John Wayte. Jenna adds a final note, “the risk with standardisation is that you’re not doing it for the customers, so when thinking about pre-batch cocktails you should always have your customer at the forefront of your mind”.