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Are Mini Sized Cocktails Better Than Regular Ones?

regular sized cocktails agains batched prebatched cocktails

Hi, Friends of Cocktails. Today we’ll talk about why size matters, and why smaller can sometimes be better - we’re talking and making Mini Cocktails! Martini, Old Fashioned, Margarita, Mojito… you’ll be able to try them all without getting intoxicated, but let’s start at the top, what even is a Mini Cocktail? It’s exactly what you think it is, a smaller version of the full sized serving, but there are many scenarios where mini cocktails just make sense, both for home cocktail enthusiasts and cocktail bars.

If you’re going out, Mini Cocktails are perfect when you’d like to try more than just 1 or 2 items from the menu without worrying about getting drunk by the time the third drink is served. It’s the same as with food - think of a chef's tasting menu - by the end of the night small portions add up to the perfect amount. Then there’s also the financial part of trying several different options, which can stack up as well. Mini Cocktails are cheaper which is friendlier to the budget.

So whether you’re visiting an out-of-town bar with an amazing menu or you’d like to explore new flavors and ingredients without committing to a full-sized drink, Mini Cocktails are the answer. Or say you’re going out for lunch during work. A full-sized cocktail might mean those reports don’t have a chance of being finished later that day, but a half-sized cocktail with a meal is a different story altogether. And then there’s also the temperature.

If you enjoy a cocktail in a stemmed glass without ice your drink will get warm pretty quickly. The solution? You already know it - Mini Cocktails. Or maybe you just want a smaller drink, that’s always a possibility. Quality over quantity. On the other side of the bartop - why does it make sense for bars? Serving a tiny cocktail to a guest can be a cocktail version of an “amuse-bouche”, a welcoming way to get something into their hands as they check out the whole menu.

Adding mini cocktails to the menus also gives bars a chance to test cocktails on a smaller scale - pun intended - before adding them to their main menu, as a way of testing what might sell better, but it’s also taking over as a new style of “the Bartender’s Handshake”. That’s usually a shot that a bartender pours for another bartender, as a sign of respect and solidarity within the industry, or inside a team before the start of a busy shift, and the shot can be many different things depending on the bar.

small bottles of batched cocktails for mini sized drinks

Fernet-Branca is probably the most well known Bartender’s Handshake, with the company even commemorating this ritual with limited-edition coins, as a way of showing you’re part of the fraternity. In Wisconsin you might get a shot of Angostura Bitters, and the bravest of the Chicagoans will down a shot of Jeppson's Malört, but in 2010 a new handshake was invented with a tiny Daiquiri shot known as the Snaquiri. It’s simple, fast, and delicious, but it also allows for each bar to make their own little twist on it.

At Dutch Kills in New York, where the Snaquiri was first enjoyed as a ritual to start the shifts, it was actually made with pineapple, but if you want to serve a large number of mini cocktails it’s important to have them ready to go on a short notice. And one way to do that is something we’ve covered before - Pre-batched Cocktails, but what about an aspiring home mixologist? I know ingredients can be expensive and your friends would love to try your creations, or even know about the classics, so why not make them a mini sampling of the Milano-Torino, Americano, Negroni, Boulevardier and the Sbagliato?

In one fun evening they can learn about the evolution of the Negroni Cocktail family, but even with Mini Cocktails, make sure there’s plenty of food and water for everyone as well. Mini Cocktails are also great for when you’re working on a new ingredient and you want to test it out in different recipes. Say you made a new cordial or shrub, or maybe you got a special limited edition Chai Syrup from Liber&Co, and you want to see how it works in other cocktails besides the Chai Tai and the Chai’rish Coffee - which both sound delicious, by the way.

I think with subtle honey and citrus notes, and the warming chai spice blend of allspice, ginger and cardamom, this syrup could work nicely in a gin cocktail as well, but if it doesn’t... Well, at least I didn’t use up too much of the syrup to make a Mini Cocktail! So to recap - the Snaquiri planted the seeds in the modern cocktail era, but is it a new concept? No, it’s actually more of a callback to the original classic cocktails. Cocktail historian David Wondrich talks about cocktail glasses holding no more than 3 ounces at the time many of the original cocktails were created in Imbibe!

So, what do you need to serve Mini Cocktails? Small glasses, of course. You probably have some at home already - shot glasses are sometimes used for the Snaiquiri - but I’ve been collecting a few of these small-sized glasses here and there whenever I come across them at a local second hand shop. Doing that not only supports your mixology journey, but also a local business. Also if you have glasses or tools you know you don’t need anymore you can donate them to the same store. That helps them again, but it can also find a second home for the things you don’t need, helping reduce waste.

Let’s get back on track. What are some popular cocktails that work great as a mini-version, at home or in a bar? Spirit forward classics are the easiest to batch, so think Old Fashioned, Negroni, Martini. They’re made with widely available ingredients which you simply mix beforehand, but you can pre-batch sours as well, you’ll just need to make a few extra ingredients. I’ve even created a Calculator to help you adjust to the exact amount you want to end up with.

If you make them without dilution you can keep them in the freezer, or add water and keep them in the fridge. We made the batched Old Fashioned a little while ago, so let’s just quickly recap how we did that.

Pre-batched Mini Old Fashioned

● 596g Whiskey

● 71g Rich Demerara Syrup

● 12g Angostura Aromatic Bitters

● 12 drops 20% Saline Solution

● Orange Peel

Pour the ingredients into your bottle, mix to combine and pour them into a bottle - these measurements will fill a 700 ml, without dilution this time. With that it’s ready to be bottled and placed in the freezer, and as soon as it’s chilled, let’s grab a small tumbler glass and pour ourselves a mini Old Fashioned. As always with a pre-batched cocktail you just pour the cocktail into a chilled glass, this time over small ice cubes. We’ll give it a stir to add a bit of dilution as well. Then garnish with an orange peel and that’s it. Cheers.

Your Mini Cocktail is ready to be enjoyed, and it’s every last bit as good as its big brothers, but with the mini version you’ll be ready to enjoy something else after you finish it. And since we haven’t batched a Martini cocktail yet, let’s do that now.

Pre-batched Mini Martini

● 266g Tanqueray No10

● 47g 9diDANTE Purgatorio Extra Dry Vermouth

● 5g Martini Bitters

● 12 drops 20% Saline Solution

● Lemon Peel

● Olive

Same as before, pour the ingredients into a bottle and give it a shake to combine - I’m using a 330 ml bottle this time, but check out the batched Cocktail Calculator if you need to adjust the volume. Also if you want to know, the Martini Bitters combine Lemon, Orange, Grapefruit and Spruce Tips bitters. The ABV in the bottle will be high enough that this won’t freeze in your typical freezer, but it will be nice and chilled when you’re ready to serve it.

So grab your mini martini glass and pour in your chilled cocktail. I’m adding 1.25 oz or 37,5 ml of our batched Martini, just make sure you still have room for dilution - aim for 40% of water which in this case is 0.5 oz or 15 ml. This is water from the fridge, and with our freezer Martini this cocktail is nicely chilled. All it needs is the garnish. Some people say you can go with a lemon peel or an olive. I say spray it with lemon essential oils, then discard the peel and add the olive- live a little. Finally give the cocktail a quick stir while you’re at it. Cheers!

One thing I always love about a mini Martini is that I don’t have to rush enjoying this wonderful, bright, boozy cocktail, because I know it will be cold all the way to the last sip. The olive just gets you ready for the next cocktail, and if you want something more refreshing you can actually batch sour cocktails too. You’ll just need some Super Juice for quick and easy Margaritas that will taste as good as fresh for days.

Pre-batched Mini Margarita

● 312g Blanco Tequila

● 174g Orange Liqueur

● 172g Lime Super Juice

● 40g Agave Syrup

● 20 drops 20% Saline Solution

● Lime Wheel

You know the drill by now. Just pour the ingredients into a 700mL bottle and shake to combine, and once you’re ready to make the cocktail just take the bottle out of the fridge, pour a small amount of our Margarita into a chilled shaker, give it a quick shake then strain into a mini coupe glass. Garnish with a lime wheel, which looks huge on this cocktail, and the mini Margarita is done. Salúd!

It’s refreshing, bright, sour, sweet and just salty enough. A real mini treat. But we have space for more, and that will be a summer favorite: the Mojito. To batch it you’ll first need to make the Clarified Lime & Mint Cordial, which I’ve shown how to make on Cocktail Time before, so let’s start!

Pre-batched Mini Mojito

● 400g White Rum

● 320g Clarified Lime & Mint Cordial

● 20 drops 20% Saline Solution

● Soda Water

● Mint Sprig

Into a bottle add the Rum, Cordial and Saline Solution, give it a shake and place in the fridge. Once it’s cold enough, take it out and you’re ready to serve in three simple steps. First, add ice cubes into a small Collins glass, pour in the Mojito mix, and top it up with Soda Water. For garnish, spank a mint sprig on the glass and place it in your Minijito. Cheers!

This one is so simple, fast and delicious that you’ll have to try really hard not to pour more than just one. But this is a mini cocktail, so we can try something else, and if we go back just a few weeks, Panda & Sons is making a very cool edition of batched cocktails with Sous Pression. This technique was created by Iain McPherson to use the power of freezing to extract flavors and infuse a cocktail which you then just strain, pour and serve.

We’ve made Panda&Sons’ Sability cocktail and a Sous Pressed Manhattan, so check those out here. I’d love to hear what cocktails you think might work in their mini version in the comments of the full episode on YouTube. Next week I’ll be back with a new craft cocktail that will have you licking your fingers. Until then, cheers!


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