DIY, Inspiration, Q & Advice, Twists on Tradition

Wedding Hack: How to Make Big Batch Wedding Cocktails


Photograph by Natali Truax of Mirror Mirror Studio.

We’ve been talking a lot about wedding hacks around here. You know, clever ways to make your wedding more awesome, that don’t cost an arm and a leg. The goal with wedding hacks, in general, is to keep the impact high but the effort low. To that end, we’ll be running a series on some of our favorite hacks, starting with this easy one for offering signature cocktails without all the hassle using a big batch cocktail mixing method.

It’s a common dilemma: you want to have a signature cocktail at your wedding during your super-fabulous cocktail hour, but your bartenders are your brother’s friends from college. You love them dearly but also know that there is no way they can froth, swizzle, and shake drinks to order, and keep the drink line moving. There is a simple solution here, and it is big batch cocktails  that are pre-made so that your bartenders only have a couple of steps to mix each drink. It allows them to move quickly, and lets you make sure each drink is balanced without working to hard. Here’s how it’s done, along with a whiskey sour recipe.

glass and napkin

Photograph by Grace Photography.

Select a wedding cocktail that is reasonable for an amateur bartender. That means: no muddling, no flames, no egg white frothing, no “rinses”, no blended drinks. Select drinks that can be made ahead of time, like the one that we are showing you today. Punch recipes are also excellent examples for batching. The basic key is to create a cocktail base that you can make in a large batch, and then on the day of your wedding, your bartender just needs to shake your mix with ice and pour. One additional step is also okay, like topping the drink off with sparkling wine or water, and maybe adding an easy garnish.

Make a big batch of your wedding cocktail ahead of time. This is easy. It’s a simple matter of multiplication and a couple of special supplies.

First, look at your wedding cocktail recipe, figure out the ratio, and just multiply the recipe by the number of cocktails you want to provide. Let’s look at this recipe for a single whiskey sour.

  • 2 oz. whiskey
  • 1 oz. sour mix (see below)
  • .5 oz. simple syrup

For 100 cocktails, you need:

  • 2 oz. x 100=200 oz. whiskey
  • 1 oz. x 100=100 oz. sour mix, and
  • .5 oz. x 100=50 oz. simple syrup.

This is where the special equipment comes in. You’ll need the following:

  • Large (4 quart or more) liquid measure pitcher, available at Smart&Final, Cash&Carry, any restaurant supply shop. Or here. About $10.
  • Stirring spoon
  • Funnel
  • Storage vessel (clean bottles, juice pitcher, carafe, anything you can store your drinks in at your bar. These are an excellent choice, and you can get a lid. You can also just re-use the bottles your ingredients came in.)

Your four-quart pitcher will hold 128 ounces at a time, so we’ll do four batches at a time. First, fill your large pitcher with 50 ounces of whiskey. Then add 25 ounces of sour mix, then 12.5 ounces of simple syrup. Stir your concoction, and taste it to make sure it tastes right. If it’s too sour, add more simple syrup. If it’s too boozy, add more sour mix—you get the idea. Give the whole thing one last good stir, and then use your funnel to fill each carafe (leave a little space at the top). Repeat three more times. Be sure to taste each batch as you go. Keep your vessels in a refrigerator or on ice at your bar, until cocktail hour, when your bartenders can just add your mix to a cocktail shaker with ice, pour it, and serve!

A note about settling: Be sure to provide either a stirring spoon for your bartenders, or make sure that your storage vessels can be shaken without leaking. Your mix can settle and will definitely need a shake-up before it is poured out.

A note about measurements: You may need to do some math at the store, when you are buying your booze. Unfortunately, some spirits are sold in ounces, others in liters, others in quarts, pints, or gallons. I highly encourage using this smartphone app or this one, or this website for your conversions.

A note about open containers: If you batch your cocktails at your house and are planning to transport them to your venue, be sure to check your state’s laws regarding open containers in vehicles. In many places, keeping them in the trunk is fine, but make sure you are transporting your booze legally!

Sour Mix Recipe: Yeah, real sour mix is actually just citrus juice. The secret is out! So, just mix the juice of any citrus you want together. I like a ratio of 1 part orange juice, 2 parts lemon juice, 1part lime juice. So, your recipe for 100 drinks is as follows:

  • 50 oz. lemon juice
  •  25 oz. orange juice
  •  25 oz. lime juice

Grapefruit is also good in there, as is blood orange juice. I’d also recommend making a little extra, so you have enough to adjust for taste. If you’re really into juicing, you can juice these yourself; I like to use Trader Joe’s or Odwalla juice because I’m lazy. Just remember, if your juice has added sugar, taste your batch before adding simple syrup.

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