This post originally appeared in the June 22, 2020 edition of The Move, a place for Eater’s editors to reveal their recommendations and pro dining tips — sometimes thoughtful, sometimes weird, but always someone’s go-to move. Subscribe now.
There are few times in life when the easy way to do something is also the right way. Happy hour is one of those times. Rather than mix a new drink every time thirst strikes, the lazy drinker knows my move: Premix a big batch of cocktails, decant it into a large bottle, and pop it in the freezer. Like meal prepping lunches for the week, a few minutes prepping a batch of drinks on a weekend afternoon yields benefits for days.
Bartenders have long bottled cocktails (or batched them on draft) to save time when the bar is three-deep and to ensure consistency. Over the last few years, single-serve bottles began appearing at cocktail bar tables too, sometimes presented as sidecars resting on ice for easy refills. More recently, bars have bottled cocktails to-go to serve customers during COVID-19 lockdowns. (If you do pick up the home-bottling habit, don’t stop supporting your local with takeout orders.)
You can mix any cocktail in quantity and bottle it for later, but for years, I’ve been urging friends and family to put their martinis in the freezer. The alcohol prevents the mixture from freezing, but the drink does thicken slightly, creating a luscious, velvety texture. Simply mix two parts gin or vodka with one part dry vermouth and one part water in a large bottle (a half-empty liquor bottle works great), rest in the freezer for an hour or a day or a week, then pour at a moment’s notice. No need to add ice when you serve it; the water replaces the ice typically used to dilute and chill a drink as it’s mixed. (Water is actually more exact than finicky melting ice cubes anyway, allowing you to dial in dilution precisely.) Chilling your glass for 30 seconds enhances the silky finish, and you can use that time to peel yourself a lemon twist for garnish.
In the age of COVID-19, pre-bottling is a gift from you on your best days to you on your worst, a refreshing little pep talk in a bottle dedicated to your future self. It’s also just an easy way to make a damn good martini, wedged between the frozen dumplings and pints of ice cream in your freezer.
Note: The 2:1:1 ratio really brings out the velvety texture, but feel free to make the drink drier if you’d like. If you make it any wetter, or if your freezer runs cold, the martini may solidify. If this happens, just let it melt on the counter, add more booze to raise the ABV, then refreeze.