The astute reader may have noticed that today is May 24 and indeed there’s history behind this date: in 1883 the Brooklyn Bridge opened. Under ordinary circumstances that would create an entry for The Drunkard’s Almanac, and like each of New York’s boroughs Brooklyn has its own named cocktail. But at this point we need the Freezer Door Martini as an example of bulk or pre-batched cocktail preparation.
What we describe here can be applied to many cocktails, but would advise sticking to those that don’t include juice and would be stirred rather than shaken. Pre-batched or “freezer door” drinks are consistent, which is one reason many top bars use them in house. The example we use showing lines on the bottle is easy enough to extend to any available bottle by using a measuring cup.
Bulk or Pre-batched Cocktails
Where does that take us? To martinis, of course. Why something so familiar? Because the martini is uniquely well suited for bulk preparation. Also known as the Freezer Door Martini, it’s a near-perfect solvent for what you’re eating these days and it provides wonderful material for a cocktail lesson just as important as the discussion we had on Mr. Potato Head’s birthday.
We could talk all day about what separates a lousy martini from the sublime. But let’s be clear, we’re not here to talk about whether one prefers a martini at 2:1 gin to vermouth, the 15:1 version that became Ernest Hemingway’s favorite or even the Winston Churchill protocol of glancing briefly at a bottle of vermouth across the room. Nor will we entertain such ill-advised notions as shaking the drink or pouring in olive brine. Nope. Instead we’re going to talk about what really counts no matter how misguided your preferences: dilution. Let that disperse through your mind for a moment. And before some ridicule the concept of dilution, please remember that those of you who simply store spirits in the freezer and pour them into a glass to serve should avoid open flames and tattoo “flammable” onto your forehead.
When you get down to it the difference between a dumpster fire and a perfect martini is the result of stirring the drink over ice to both chill and dilute the drink correctly. This matters more for a martini than almost any other drink. When it’s right the botanicals of the gin and vermouth magically appear, neither drowned out by alcoholic heat nor lost in a soupy mess. Not so simple really, it takes a skilled, practiced bartender. How do we do guarantee success? We address the problem by mixing in bulk to ensure perfect dilution, bottle up and place in the freezer. Suddenly you are able, on demand, to pour a perfect elixir. At what dilution does that happen? When the added water is around 20% of the total mix.
Freezer Door Martini
Truth is, some of the world’s best bars have been doing this a long time, ceremony and tradition be damned. The product is more consistent and from the freezer also colder than a stirred drink, which creates a pleasant increase in viscosity. Follow along and your home bar game will reach new heights. You may even experience total enlightenment.
We all know that London dry gin and dry vermouth are ordinary household items but an appropriate bottle suddenly becomes an important consideration. Lo and behold, our friends at Ford’s Gin already thought of this and made life easy. Seeing themselves as “the bartender’s gin” they put volume markers on the side of the bottle and a ring marking the whole 750ml on the neck. This makes quick end-of-shift inventory easy for the professionals and helps us as well. It is also an excellent gin for martinis, and widely available.
Let’s say you like your martinis at a 3:1 gin to vermouth ratio (as recommended by our Editorial Board). Notice that if you mix ingredients in the proportion of 3:1:1 for gin, vermouth and filtered water the final mix is 20% added water. You can, of course, vary the gin to vermouth ratio, but be forewarned: if you go long on gin you’ll probably want a bit more water, and if you’re in the Audrey Saunders camp enjoying “Fitty-Fitty” equal parts gin and vermouth you had better cut back on the water. Gin-heavy situations can inch toward being too alcoholic. Vermouth-heavy versions would be better frozen in a big 7-Eleven Slurpee cup because you’ll really be creating a slushie. Not that a martini slushie isn’t a good idea, obviously popular with the kids, but it’s not the classic cocktail we’re seeking at the moment.
This 3:1:1 ratio conveniently fits the fact that a standard 750 ml liquor bottle is for practical purposes equal to 25 ounces. This makes pictorial illustration of mixing instructions straightforward, with steps labeled 1 to 3 as illustrated. Your alternative, of course, is to simply measure out the ingredients and put them in whatever bottle you have at hand.
if your freezer is particularly cold you may start to find tendrils of ice dispersed through the bottle. No cause for panic, the situation can be handled easily. One course of action is to add a bit more gin to the bottle. In that case the lowered freezing point will help. The alternative is to let them melt. Rather than waiting for the whole bottle to warm a degree or two it’s easier to simply shake it up a bit and pour. Those bits of ice will quickly disappear in your glass.
Freezer Door Drinks in General
Bulk, ready to go cocktails aren’t just for martinis. Care to have Manhattans waiting for you in your freezer? No problem. Simply mix the requisite ingredients, pour in a bottle and put in your freezer. That said, the trick comes in delivering the final product with the right dilution. If you’re bulk preparing a cocktail that will be served up you’ll want to dilute it with water in your pre-batched mix. Just how much is up to you, but we think something in the range of 15% water will be about right. If you’re making something that will be served over rocks in bulk we’d advise cutting back on the water, but probably not eliminating it as the drink will be icy cold when it hits the ice and additional dilution will be slow to come.
Freezer Door Martini
- 15 oz Gin
- 5 oz Dry vermouth
- 5 oz Water
- Admittedly, you could pull last night’s bottle out of the trash bin, but it’s probably easier to simply consume a fresh bottle down to the 15 oz line at breakfast. There is no explicit 15 oz marking, but a quick check with a ruler will show you immediately that at 2.25 cm above the 12 oz mark it’s just above the lower border of the gripping band indent on the bottle.
- From there simply fill to the 20 oz line with dry vermouth and then follow that with a simple 5 oz fill of water to the total volume marker ring on the neck of the bottle. And take note: please don’t use tap water in this application. You really do want to find a bottle of very soft bottled (i.e. not mineral) water or distilled. Yes, it makes a difference.
- At this point you have the option of adding 6-7 dashes of orange bitters if you like. Add cap, invert gently several times to mix, and place in freezer.
- What could be easier?
- The remaining instructions should be familiar:
- Pour into pre-chilled glass
- Garnish with your choice of lemon twist, olive or even both if you’re feeling Dale DeGroff-ish. Of course if you crave Gibsons it’s a cocktail onion but then please omit the orange bitters above and add a short dash of celery bitters to each serving.