Throwing together a last-minute Galentine's party? Busy schedule right before your Valentine's Day date night? We've got you covered. Thanks to the magic of mixology and the science of modern refrigeration, you can have a delicious cocktail batched and ready to serve in no time. Introducing, the freeze-ahead cocktail.
The freeze-ahead cocktail is popping up in some of the most popular bars around the country, but its usefulness when fixing drinks at home is what makes the idea so genius. The premise is simple: pre-batch your favorite cocktail (stick to something boozy), dilute with the same amount of water you'd get from adding ice, and stick it in the freezer.
The result? An incredibly smooth, velvety texture added to your already enjoyable cocktail. For our celebrations, we put one of our favorites, the Cold Brew Negroni, to the test. Want to give it a shot as well? Follow along with us below.
1) Pick your drink.
When it comes to picking your cocktail to freeze, select something that is "spirit-forward" or boozy. The success of the freeze-ahead cocktail relies on the alcohol content of the drink stopping it from freezing fully through.
We chose to mix up a Cold Brew Negroni, which is equal parts Belle Isle Cold Brew Coffee, Campari, and sweet vermouth, each about a 1 oz. pour. Twists on other classic drinks like a Martini, Manhattan, or Old Fashioned are great options as well.
2) Do the math.
Once you've selected your cocktail, find out how many cocktails you plan to serve. You can estimate based on how many guests or by starting with what spirit you already have handy.
For our Negroni recipe, we can make about 25 cocktails with one bottle of Belle Isle Cold Brew Coffee. From there, we calculate how many ounces/milliliters we'll need of Campari and vermouth.
Since our recipe calls for equal parts, it is pretty simple. For more complex recipes, you'll need to spend a little more time doing the math. And like any great chef would, we recommend tasting as you go along.
3) Dump, then dilute down.
Now that you have all of your ingredients together, dump them into a freezable dispenser. Any carafe or glass bottle will work, as long as it is big enough for your batched cocktail. Before it goes into the freezer, you'll need to dilute down your cocktail with water.
Deciding how much water to dilute with isn't an exact science, but you can make a more informed decision based on how the drink is typically made (shaken, stirred, built over ice) and how boozy it is. Shaken drinks are more diluted than stirred, and stirred are more diluted than built drinks.
If your cocktail is lower in alcohol, you can vary more with how much water you add. For our cocktail, we add 3/4 oz. of water per each cocktail serving. If you're serving something stronger like a martini, you might consider adding 2-3 times more water for dilution.
4) Stick it in the freezer.
With all of the math and guessing games out of the way, you can celebrate with an easy step. Stick your batched cocktail into the freezer and get back to your busy day!
5) Reveal your masterpiece.
Now that you're ready to relax and celebrate with friends or loved ones, pop open your freezer and pull out your batched cocktail. It should come out still in liquid form, but a little thicker and velvety.
If your cocktail froze through into a solid chunk, don't worry! Run the container under some cold water and gradually turn the water warmer. Do this for a minute or so, then set the cocktail out on the counter to defrost. The alcohol will cause the cocktail to melt fast, and should be ready to serve in no time.
6) Serve, sip, and enjoy!
Grab your glasses and get ready to share your creation. We garnish our Cold Brew Negroni with an orange peel. If your cocktail still tastes a little too strong, pour over ice to dilute it a tad more.
While enjoying your cocktail, take some mental notes on how it tastes and drinks, comparing it to how it normally tastes. Are certain notes or flavors more prominent? Does the alcohol give off the same heat or burn? Find an inspiration for more freeze-ahead experimentation in the future!
Photos by Kate Magee