Kegged cocktails

An interview with Scott Huth of Tavernita in Chicago (now closed) reveals its secret to serving cocktails quickly – they’re pre-mixed and served from a standard keg system. They’ve been doing this since the restaurant opened in early 2012.

I tend to start by making a small two-litre batch first, then scale it up to 50 or 100 litres. We do pre-dilution and to work out how much water to add, we use the Dave Arnold method where we make a cocktail conventionally, measure its initial weight and final weight after shaking or stirring, and figure out how much water has been added, then scale it up.

And the method doesn’t seem to be restricted to Chicago (though there’s evidence it’s becoming a trend there) – bars in St Louis as well as New York and DC are doing the same. Marco Beier of Mixology points out that the practice dates at least as far back as the birth of the tiki bar, where Zombie and other mixes are typically pre-mixed.

There’s no sign of it crossing the pond, however. Guinness UDV (as was) trialled Smirnoff Ice on draught in the early 2000s in Ireland, but clearly there’s a difference in customer expectations between a PPS and a cocktail.

I understand when people raise their eyebrows at what we are doing, but most people don’t notice what they have ordered came out of a tap. During our first experiments we made a batch Margarita and put it under nitrogen. We did a taste test with staff and customers and most people couldn’t pick out the one under pressure.

There are, of course, other ways of ‘industrialising’ the cocktail-making process, including kitchen-style preparation, and the novel ‘magnum’ cocktail bottles.

But will the bartender’s role ever be significantly diminished? Even if we have to sacrifice quality for speed? Let the market decide.

via Chris Heathcote.

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