From New York to L.A., the country's best bars are serving cocktails on draft, and for good reason—tap cocktails make it easy to quickly dole out perfectly mixed, pre-batched drinks to a thirsty crowd. And while it might be tricky to install a tap on your home bar, you can take a cue from the professionals and mix up cocktails in big batches ahead of time; you'll get consistent quality in every glass and avoid getting stuck behind the bar all night. Here are three of my favorite recipes from top bartenders around the country—try scaling them up for a crowd and serving them at your next party. —L.I.
Kevin Denton, Alder
Kevin Denton, the mastermind behind the bar program at Wylie Dufresne's restaurants WD~50 and Alder, keeps pre-batched Manhattans and Negronis on hand for when he entertains. He has found that stirred cocktails actually benefit from sitting in a keg because the liquors in them marry their flavors with time. His pro tip: pre-dilute batches of stirred cocktails with water instead of ice for consistent quality. He suggests starting with ¼ ounce of water and adding a tiny bit until it tastes the way it should. His Suffering Fools is a riff on the Suffering Bastard, a classic cocktail developed during WWII in Cairo.
Death & Company's Dave Kaplan and Alex Day have been perfecting their cocktails on tap for a while. At their Los Angeles disco club Honeycut, they have an advanced draft system that enables them to quickly deliver high quality cocktails to dancing guests. At Nitecap, they serve a version of the classic Bamboo cocktail, a refreshing apéritif adapted by Nitecap's co-owner and head bartender Natasha David. Day counts it among his favorite drinks.
Anthony Schmidt, Neighborhood
Anthony Schmidt, the cocktail impresario behind popular San Diego spots Noble Experiment, Rare Form, and Craft & Commerce, brings his skills to Neighborhood, a hip gastropub with an excellent selection of beer and cocktails on draft. In addition to classics—Manhattans, Negronis, and old fashioneds—Schmidt serves up some original tipples on tap. In collaboration with Neighborhood’s bar manager, Eric Giger, he created the Rosewood as a seasonal take on the old fashioned, with a floral aroma.
Laura is a Brooklyn-based writer and researcher whose words have appeared in Travel + Leisure, Departures, and Refinery29, among others. She is the co-author of a forthcoming guide to New York City's hidden bars and restaurants and wrote the Williamsburg and Greenpoint guides in Fodor's forthcoming Brooklyn book. She likes her gin shaken, not stirred.