When it comes to pre-batching cocktails, one of the considerations is whether or not to add water to the batch. In this article, we take a look at how to calculate dilution for pre-batched cocktails.
Adding ice when making a cocktail serves a dual purpose. It chills the drink to the right temperature and dilutes it to provide balance to the cocktail. The dilution is achieved by either shaking or stirring the ingredients with ice.
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Shaking vs Stirring
As a general rule, shaking is a vigorous activity therefore a shaken drink chills and dilutes at a much faster rate than a stirred drink. Shaking also aerates the liquid and adds texture to the cocktail. Stirring, being a gentler activity requires more time than shaking to get the drink to the right temperature and dilution. Generally, a stirred drink such as a Negroni tends to be not as cold as a shaken one such as a Daiquiri.
Sparkling cocktails such as French 75 generally need less dilution due to the addition of the sparkling ingredient which provides extra dilution which is why some bartenders give the drink half a shake before adding sparkling wine or soda water.
How to Calculate Dilution for Pre-Batched Cocktails
You’ve probably heard a figure around 25% to 30% water as the amount of dilution to factor into pre-batched drinks. Some may prefer to add between 40-45% dilution to stirred and spirit-forward drinks while giving shaken drinks around 30% dilution and sparkling cocktails around the 20% mark. How much water you should add to a pre-batched cocktail depends on various factors such as the bar or the home bar, its set up, the type of drink, ice and personal preference.
A more precise technique pioneered by Dave Arnold author of Liquid Intelligence is to calculate the dilution for pre-batched cocktails by weighing the drink before and after dilution.
Start by making one cocktail, either shaken or stirred. Add all the ingredients to a mixing glass or cocktail shaker and weigh it on an accurate kitchen scale. Take note of the weight. Now add ice, stir or shake as you would normally do to chill and dilute the drink then strain the liquid into any glass. Discard the ice, pour the drink back into the mixing glass or cocktail shaker and weigh it again. The amount of water you need to add is the difference between the total weight of the cocktail and the original weight before dilution.
Much like using fresh ice is paramount, using filtered water is recommended as it doesn’t contain impurities.
Of course, you could always pre-batch without adding water, then stir or shake with ice before serving the drink.
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