Once you have embarked on your cocktail-consuming journey, you will get to the point where you will get tired of having to bust-out all the mixing gear (tins, mixing glass, spoon, etc.) when having a make a drink after a long day - especially during the week. Ideally, this cocktail would be made, sitting for you ready to guzzle as soon as you get home. These were my exact thoughts and, upon some minimal brainstorming, I decided that I wanted to begin bottling my cocktails. This is easier said than done, though. There are a few different ways you can do this, and each will be dependent on the circumstance. So, with that said, let's walk through a couple scenarios and how I would approach bottling cocktails for each one.
Before I dive into these scenarios here are a few, quick cocktail-bottling tips regarding which types of cocktails to bottle...or not to bottle, and when:
- Good to bottle for storing / aging - most spirit-forward cocktails (meaning Negronis, Martinis, Manhattans, etc.) are perfect for bottling. Although the Vermouth in some of these spirit-forward cocktails will begin to oxidize, when mixed with other proofed spirits, the oxidation process will be somewhat slower than if it was just on its own. As a matter of fact, some of these cocktails will get better with age as the ingredients blend into a more unified, balanced cocktail - this is to each person's personal taste, of course. As for spirit-forward cocktails like an Old-Fashioned, which has simple syrup in the mix, these won't have as long of a shelf (fridge) life because of the sugar (1-2 weeks at best).
- Good to bottle for occasions - cocktails with any sort of juice, citrus, or sugar/syrups (specifically in combination with citrus) are okay to bottle for 1-3 days max (3 days being pretty generous - depending on the ingredients mixed). These are, typically, the sorts of cocktails you may be interested in bottling because they are usually the most "fun" (i.e. Margaritas, Daiquiris, Punches, Tiki Drinks, etc). If you are going for a trip to the beach, a pre-game, or are having some sort of party, or celebration, bottling these cocktails for the occasion will be an absolute hit. Note: be cautious with carbonated drinks - like the Gin + Tonic. These will go flat depending on how you bottle them. Possible, but not ideal.
- Please, never bottle - I will keep this one short and sweet. If there is any sort of cream or egg in the cocktail...do not bottle it. That said, you could bottle the rest of the ingredients, leaving out the cream, or egg, and then add once the time is right...but I'd encourage you to just keep it fresh.
How to Bottle
Ultimately, there are two ways to bottle cocktails. One method is more effective in the preservation of the ingredients within the bottle (and is a bit more advanced in technique), but both methods will get the job done. To put them simply, I will call one method the "home" method since this is (most likely) the route many cocktail enthusiasts will take with their limited accessibility to equipment. The other method I will call the "bar" method, since this method requires more advanced equipment and technique. I, myself, have never actually used the "bar" method because I have never received proper training using Liquid Nitrogen, which is a part of the process, but I will provide resources here to learn more if you are curious about venturing into this technical method. (Please note: playing with cryogens, such as Liquid Nitrogen, are extremely dangerous and can be fatal if not handled with proper care and training.)
Gear needed for Home Bottling Method:
Home Bottling Method: this is the method I use when bottling my cocktails. To break it down simply (and it truly is simple):
- Choose which cocktail you want to bottle (Refer to my notes above on which cocktails are most appropriate). You can either stir your cocktail to dilute prior to bottling, or just mix ingredients as they are and stir over ice after bottling.
- Pour ingredients into 187mL bottle.
- Put the bottle cap on the mouth of the bottle, and use bottle-capper to seal.
- Place your bottled cocktail in the fridge (up to 1-2 weeks). You can put your bottled cocktail in the freezer, but note: temperature also has an effect on the quality of the bottled cocktail. Ideally, the temperature should range between 22°F - 30°F. The standard fridge temperature is ~40°F, while freezers are -4°F...neither being ideal. The best case scenario - make your fridge a bit colder for a week.
The only thing to note here is that, although the cocktail is bottled, the flavors won't be entirely preserved due to the oxygen that remains in the top of the bottle between the mix and the cap (the head) - this causes the cocktail's ingredients to oxidize and lose a bit of its freshness, but it's not the end of the world if you know what to expect.
Bar Bottling Method: this method involves the removal of the oxygen from the space between the mix and the cap through the additional use of Liquid Nitrogen. Although this method is highly effective, and will preserve your mix for an indefinite amount of time, it is difficult to get a hold of LN and, as I've mentioned, is extremely dangerous to handle if untrained. Nonetheless, if you wish to use this tech with care and do your homework, here is the process:
- Repeat steps 1-2 from the "Home Method" above.
- Before placing the cap on the bottle, add a small amount of LN to the bottle, then place the cap on top and let it sit (without sealing it). After the LN stops smoking (which means the LN has completely evaporated, removing the oxygen from the bottle's headspace), seal the cap.
- Repeat step 4 from above - aka store it.
Source: Liquid Intelligence (David Arnold, 2014)