The Frozen Drink Guide

How to make frozen cocktails

How to Make Perfect Frozen Drinks, Every Time

What’s the secret to making the best frozen cocktails? Here are a few things to keep in mind. 

In general, making a batch for frozen drinks means adjusting ratios from what you’d use in the same drink if it was stirred or shaken. The obvious difference, of course, is that frozen drinks already include their chilling and dilution, and so a standard frozen spec will contain as much as 40% water. This dilution aids in freezing, but is also an opportunity to explore other liquids for flavor and texture.

How To Taste Test a Frozen Drink

Tasting during the batching process for a frozen drink is a bit different than tasting for traditional batched drinks. That’s because extreme cold dulls both sweetness and bitterness. Interestingly, perceived saltiness and sourness do not change significantly

Frozen Tip: Are you working from a recipe you’d normally shake, stir, or build? Turn up the sweetness and bitterness from your normal spec, since our perception of these drops with the temperature.

One absolute is using a brix refractometer, a tool that measures the sugar content in liquids. The ideal sugar content for a finished frozen cocktail is within 13 to 15 brix. The ideal alcohol content will land between 0 and 10 ABV, which is the sweet spot for frozen consistency, neither too runny nor too frozen.

Batching Tips For Scale

Most frozen machines hold significant volume. It’s a model built on scale. Therefore, your frozen batch-making is also going to happen on a larger scale. A key component in big batches is shelf stability: it’s important to note that citrus remains volatile, even when frozen. While it’s not necessary to clarify fresh citrus juice, filtering out some of the fruit’s pulp through a sieve with a coffee filter helps extend the life of a citrus-y frozen drink like the Margarita. Even a single filtration will help slow a frozen drink’s citrus from going rancid, which can happen even when kept in extreme cold. On the same note, Campari’s expert bartenders say that they don’t make frozen batches that they don’t expect to use within 48 hours.

Frozen Tip: In addition to clarifying your citrus, keeping your batch sealed and cold until ready to use will lengthen its shelf life. Communicate with your team to create a par for how much batch should be on-hand and thawed for service.

Too Frozen or Not Frozen Enough?

While every bar’s equipment will vary, we recommend pre-chilling your mix (or freeze in small batches) to help speed up the freezing process, which can vary by machine. If the drink is not freezing enough, add water to it 250 ml at a time. If it is freezing too much, add sugar to it at the same ratio.

As with developing any drinks, frozen drinks may require a bit of initial trial-and-error, but once you find a ratio that works for your drinks and equipment, updating your frozen drinks can be as effortless as the changing of the seasons. 

Pro Tip: As you work out the kinks in your batching, keep detailed notes in the moment on brix, dilution, acidity, shelf life, machine quirks (trust us), and anything else you’d like to not re-learn from scratch next summer—Your future frozen drinks will thank you!

Want a Frozen Guide on the go? Check out our downloadable and printable Frozen Guide!