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Easy Batching for Summer Bourbon Cocktails

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Four images of matched bourbon cocktsils

Earlier this week I taught a class on Milk Street virtual classes on Bourbon Basics and batching summer cocktails. While I’m working on the details getting a link to those of you want to get access to the class, I wanted to put together a post for you all on some of the templates and recipes I used.

Unlike my longer posts that will go into detail on each and every little thing, here I’m going to reference a few other posts that already have this information in it, or expand on it in ways to make it easier to do at home.

How to Use this Guide

a perfect old fashioned in a rocks glass over ice with bitters and other old fashioned surrounding it. Garnished with orange peel and cherry

For each of these cocktails below, I’ll go through a summer-themed syrup or infusion, a recipe for a single cocktail, and instructions for how to batch the cocktail for eight.

All of these cocktails use a batching method I’ve discussed here – Easiest Method to Batch a Cocktail for Parties. This goes into a quick and easy way make batches by converting ounces to cups and reducing the amount of bitters added (if any).

You’re multiplying ingredients by 8 by converting ounces to cups – creating a batch of cocktails for 8. Once you’ve reduced the bitters and added a bit of water for dilution, you can put your batch in the fridge for 4 hours to overnight, and you’ll be ready to serve the next day.

I highly recommend reading the article before batching the recipes below because there are just a few caveats that are explained in full in the batching post. But the cheat is convert ounces to cups and reduce bitters by 1/3.

But let’s get to the content!

We’ll cover batching for 4 different kinds of bourbon cocktails:

  • old fashioneds: 2 parts whiskey, 1/2 part sweet, bitters
  • whiskey sours: 2 parts whiskey, 1 part sour, 1 part sweet
  • boulevardiers: 1.5 parts whiskey, 3/4 part sweet vermouth, 3/4 part Campari
  • highballs: 1 part whiskey to 2-4 parts soda

Batch Method for Summer Old Fashioneds

For the first example, we’ll create an orange, spice-infused syrup, and use it to create a fast and easy cocktail you can batch up in an empty 750mL spirit bottle. To learn everything you ever wanted to know about the Old Fashioned cocktail – including how it got its name, head here.

While I’m using a spice-infused simple syrup here, any fruity or infused syrup whose flavors blend well with bourbon makes incredible Old Fashioneds.

For a full tutorial about simple syrups and infusions, head here: All About Simple Syrups.

Orange-Spiced Simple Recipe

  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • 4 cracked cinnamon sticks
  • 6 green cardamom pods, bruised (optional)
  • Orange zest of two oranges

Add sugar and water to a small saucepan on medium heat. Add spices and stir until sugar has dissolved. Let the syrup come to a boil, then simmer on low for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let cool to room temperature. Strain out solids and store in a clean glass jar. Will keep for 2-4 weeks. TIP: remove the zest from the oranges before juicing them to practice sustainability.

Spiced Old Fashioned (Single)

Disclaimer – I originally developed this as an Old Fashioned for the holidays, but the flavor is so refreshing with the orange, even in summer, that this has become a go-to cocktail year-round!

  • 2 oz wheated bourbon
  • ½ oz spiced simple syrup
  • 2 dashes of aromatic bitters (I use orange and spiced cherry bitters)
  • Garnish: orange peel/twist and cinnamon stick

Add ingredients to a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir for 30 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass with ice and garnish. 

Summer Spiced Old Fashioned Batched for 8

  • 2 cups wheated bourbon
  • ½ cup spiced simple syrup
  • 12 dashes aromatic bitters (orange and spiced cherry preferred)
  • ½ cup water
  • Garnish: orange peel/twist and cinnamon stick

Combine ingredients in an empty 750mL and chill at least 4 hours to overnight. Serve over ice in a rocks glass with a garnish. 

Batched method for Summer Whiskey Sours

Coopers' Craft Cocktail - Blueberry Sour with sage leaf garnish and a bottle of Coopers' Craft on a gold tray
Coopers’ Craft Cocktail: Sweet and Savory Blueberry Sour

Next up, the whiskey sour, a summer classic with a basic template of 2 parts spirit to 1 part sweet to 1 part sour. That template works for any basic sour, from a Margarita to a Daiquiri to a Gimlet. But we’re talking batched bourbon cocktails, so I’m sticking with the whiskey sour here.

The whiskey sour has a naval history – rum sours were first used by the British navy to fight the scourge of scurvy on long sea voyages. They weren’t true sours as we experience them, but the sailor’s citrus was added to their rum ration for the day, with a bit of water to lower the proof and a touch of sugar to sweeten the concoction. More on the history and a full tutorial on the classic whiskey sour here: The Classic Whiskey Sour.

When I create whiskey sours, I alter the template a bit from the standard 2:1:1 ratios. Instead of that, I add a little less sweet and sour, but keep the two balanced. I generally use 2: 3/4: 3/4 in my whiskey sours so that the whiskey remains very much the center of the drink and isn’t overwhelmed by sour or sweet elements.

About Summer Fruit-Infused Syrups

watermelon syrup in a jar with two whiskey watermelon sour cocktails
Watermelon Sour

Much of the information below is covered in this article about simple syrups.

For this simple syrup we’re playing with fruit infusions. In this case, a cooked syrup with wild frozen blueberries infused with fresh sage. Since sage is a leafy herb and not a hard spice, rather than cook it over heat for 10-15 minutes as part of the syrup creation process, I put the herb under a little heat, then let the syrup infuse as it cools to room temperature.

For delicate herbs, like mint or basil, add them when cooked syrups are on the stove, but remove them from heat immediately and let them steep until the syrup is completely cooled.

For hardy herbs like rosemary or lavender, put them on low heat at a simmer for about 10 minutes, then turn off the heat and let the syrup steep and cool to room temperature before straining and bottling to store in the fridge for 2 to 4 weeks.

Some fruit-infused syrups taste better with a no-cook method. For me, strawberry, peach and watermelon syrups all tastes much better when made without applying heat. There’s a stark difference between a cooked strawberry or watermelon syrup versus a no-cook method. Choose a method that fits with your use of the syrup. In this case, with a fresh spring or summer sour, I may want to focus on the uncooked flavors of sweetened strawberries, peach or watermelon.

This blueberry sage syrup is one of my favorite syrups. While I use it with bourbon here to create a delicious whiskey sour, it’s also makes a great drink with rye whiskey, or even gin or vodka.

Blueberry Sage Syrup

  • 2 cups frozen wild blueberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup torn fresh sage leaves

Add sugar, water, and blueberries to a saucepan on the stove on medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves and the berries thaw and cook down 10-15 minutes. Add the torn sage leaves, and turn the heat to low for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat completely and let the sage steep in the syrup until it has cooled to room temperature. Strain and store in the fridge in a clean glass jar.

Blueberry Sage Sour (single)

Note: to learn the basics of my easy cheat to make lovely, silky, delicious foam for an egg white, check out this post all about the Boston Sour.

  • 2 oz classic bourbon (or rye whiskey works here)
  • ¾ oz lemon juice
  • ¾ oz blueberry sage syrup
  • Optional 1 egg white or ¾ oz aquafaba
  • 2 dashes bitters (optional) I used Crude bitters rosemary peppercorn bitters
  • Garnish: blueberries and sage

Add ingredients to a cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Shake for 12-15 seconds. If you add egg white or aquafaba, strain into another chilled glass or glass measuring cup and run an electric latte whisk on it for 10-15 seconds. Pour into a chilled coupe and garnish.

Batched Blueberry Sage Sour for 8

When creating a batch of any sour there are some key differences to remember from a spirit-and-syrup-only cocktail.

Fresh citrus juices start to turn bitter about 12-18 hours after they are juiced. This means that any batched cocktail that you make needs to be consumed within 18 hours if you are using fresh juice. If you’re looking for prepared juices that are as fresh as possible, Natalie’s Juice Company is fresh-pressed and available online or at stores. Another great option is Twisted Alchemy. If you use those juices, you’ll have a few days before your cocktails need to be consumed.

Omit egg white and aquafaba to simplify serving sours in batches. Sours can be served without a foaming agent with or without ice, and to your preference.

For summer sours, stone fruit syrups, or ones with fresh herb infusions like basil, mint or lavender make incredible options for whiskey sours in the heat.

  • 2 cups classic bourbon
  • ¾ cup lemon juice
  • ¾ cup blueberry sage simple 
  • ½ to ¾ cup water
  • (Do not add egg white or aquafaba)
  • Garnish: blueberries and sage

Add ingredients to an empty 1 L pitcher or empty bottle. Shake well. Chill for 4 hours or overnight. Make sure to shake vigorously before serving. Serve over rocks in a glass or up in a coupe. Garnish.

Batched Boulevardiers

rosemary orange boulevardier with blood orange and rosemary garnish

Boulevardiers, the whiskey cousin to the Negroni, are older, (and as far as I am concerned) much more delicious than the gin-based Negroni. For a full history and set of tips, to go How to Make a Boulevardier. Just know it was born from an ex-pat in Paris during Prohibition so it’s a lovely, complex, bitter drink.

While it’s not typically considered a summer drink, I would argue that a couple of fun infusions and a good deal of great ice make it a perfect cocktail for hot months.

In this case, I demonstrated a spirit infusion by suggesting an easy infusion of Campari with dark roast coffee beans. Over the course of about 8-24 hours your Campari infusion will develop coffee and chocolate notes from the coffee beans, adding a distinct java note and creating a delicious interplay with bourbon.

Campari is a spirit ripe for infusions. From coffee, to orange, to cocoa nib to rosemary, it’s an easy spirit to play with for botanical infusions. I have a whole article on How to Infuse Campari to give you more ideas.

But, if you need direction on infusing bourbon or other spirits with a multitude of botanicals, foods and flavors, check out this even longer article on bourbon infusions.

I also added an option infusion for the sweet vermouth – a 2-3 day cacao nib infusion that creates delicious and complex chocolate notes in the cocktail, in addition to the Campari!

Coffee-infused Campari

  • 3 tablespoons dark-roast coffee beans, slightly cracked
  • 1 cup Campari

Place coffee beans and Campari in a jar for up to 1 day. Check the infusion every 4-6 hours until you’re satisfied with the flavor. Strain and store in a clean glass jar in the fridge for 1-2 months.

Optional Cacao-Infused Sweet Vermouth

  • 3 tablespoons cacao nibs
  • 1 cup sweet vermouth

Place cacao nibs and sweet vermouth together in a jar for 2-3 days. Check the infusion after 24 hours and every 12 hours until you’re satisfied with the flavor. Strain and store in a clean glass jar in the fridge for 1 month.

Coffee Boulevardier (Single)

  • 1 ½ oz classic bourbon
  • ¾ oz sweet vermouth (cacao-infused if you made it)
  • ¾ oz coffee-infused Campari
  • Garnish: orange peel, coffee beans

Combine ingredients in a mixing glass and add ice. Stir until well chilled, about 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled rocks glass with one large-format ice cube and garnish.

Coffee Boulevardier Batched for 8

  • 1 ½ cup classic bourbon
  • ¾ cup sweet vermouth (cacao-infused if you made it)
  • ¾ cup coffee-infused Campari
  • ½ to ¾ cup water
  • Garnish: orange peel, coffee beans

Add ingredients to an empty 1 L pitcher or empty bottle. Stir well. Chill 4 hours to overnight. Serve over one large rock and garnish with an orange peel.

Batched Bourbon Spritz or Highball

Bourbon Lemonade with mint and lemon wheel garnish on a white tray

The highball is an easy classic – demonstrated by favorites such as the 7 and 7, the jack and coke, the ginger and whiskey, and more. At it’s most basic it’s a cocktail of spirit and carbonation. And the secret to any great highball is to keep the texture of the highball alive as long as possible by keeping everything very cold. For more on the history of the highball and a slew of hacks and tips head here to Learn the Classic Highball.

For this simple syrup we turn away from spices, herbs and fruits and engage a dried flower, hibiscus, as a tea. When I create a simple syrup from tea ingredients, I typically make a tea from the botanicals then use that as the base for additional infusions over heat (like the fresh ginger root here), or just add the sugar element to it directly.

Hibiscus Ginger Simple Syrup

  • ½ tablespoon dried hibiscus petals (not candied hibiscus flowers)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 ½ inch peeled ginger root, minced

Heat water to a boil. Add dried hibiscus flowers and steep for 8 minutes. Strain and transfer to a small saucepan. Add sugar and ginger root. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and steep for 60 minutes. Strain and refrigerate. Store in the fridge for 2-4 weeks. 

Hibiscus Ginger Highball (single)

  • 2 oz wheated bourbon
  • ½ oz hibiscus ginger simple syrup
  • 1 dash aromatic bitters
  • 2 dashes ginger bitters
  • 2-4 oz soda, club soda or hibiscus-lemongrass soda suggested
  • Garnish: candied ginger and dried sweetened hibiscus flowers

Combine bourbon, ginger simple and bitters in the bottom of the chilled collins or highball glass. Stir and fill with ice. Top with soda, lift ice gently with spoon one to two times and garnish. You can also make this in a mixing glass and then pour it into the collins glass and add ice.

Hibiscus Ginger Highball Batched for 8

Hibiscus Highball in two glasses with hibiscus and candied ginger garnish
Hibiscus Highball

When creating a batched cocktail with a carbonated element, there’s some prep you can do beforehand, but absolutely do not batch your carbonated element with the rest of the ingredients in advance. This will lead to a very flat and unappealing spritz or highball.

For serving a highball-type drink in a batch situation, you will batch all of the ingredients except for the carbonated element. Chill them all well, and if you can, put your highball or collins glasses in the freezer and create some great ice for the drink.

When it’s time to serve, pull the chilled glasses out of the freezer, add ice, and put in about 2 1/2 oz of the batched highball mix in the glass and top with very cold, fresh seltzer, soda, champagne, etc.

Hibiscus HIGHball

  • 2 cups wheated bourbon
  • ½ cup hibiscus ginger simple syrup
  • 4-5 dashes aromatic bitters
  • 1/2 cup water – optional (if you’re serving over a lot of ice and the glasses won’t be chilled omit this)
  • 8-10 dashes ginger bitters
  • Garnish: candied ginger and fried sweetened hibiscus flowers

Combine ingredients in an empty 750mL bottle, stir or shake to combine, and chill for 4 hours to overnight. To build each cocktail, pour 2.5 oz into the bottom of a collins glass filled with ice and top with desired soda at a 2:1 to 4:1 ratio. Garnish as above. 

Did you try it? I love getting unsolicited DRINK pics from you when you try out a cocktail. Send them along to me on social media. Join me on my social channels at @cocktail_contessa on Instagram and Cocktail Contessa on Facebook and use the hashtags #cocktailcontessa and #bourbonismycomfortfood.

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By on July 9th, 2022
Picture of Heather Wibbels, Cocktail Contessa, pouring a cocktail

About Heather Wibbels

Heather Wibbels is a whiskey enthusiast (Executive Bourbon Steward, no less) with a passion for cocktails. She loves researching and designing cocktails, drinking cocktails, and teaching cocktails. Mostly whiskey cocktails, given her Kentucky location

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1 thought on “Easy Batching for Summer Bourbon Cocktails”

  1. Heather, these cocktails look delicious! I’m a bourbon lover. I can’t wait to try these. I appreciate all the info regarding batching the recipe. That way I can enjoy my guests and not spend the night just mixing. 🙂

    Reply

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