In Good Taste, Vol. 4: Just Call Me Mr. Freeze

Photo credit: PUNCH

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The best cocktails I've ever had were at a bar called Pretty Dirty, which is currently on hiatus despite all my "hey bestie" DMs. The drink names were preposterous (The Roundelay of Leeteg & Villa Velour was one, for example; no, I have no idea why), but every single tasting note was always an absolute knockout. More than that, the drinks were downright viscous. Which is one of my favorite words that I never get to use in a sentence.

Truly, though, these cocktails all had actual body to them. They weren't thin, crushable tall drinks co-mingled with melting ice; they were robust and full of mouthfeel, while still being refreshing. I'd never been able to figure out how they achieved it, assuming it had more to do with expensive ingredients than technique, until I tried the batched martinis at my friend Jamie's 35th birthday.

Her 'tinis had been pre-mixed, pre-bottled, and most crucially pre-diluted before taking a trip to the freezer. Instead of stirring individual martinis to order, with the ice in the shaker adding the water that tames gin of its bite, Jamie added water directly to the larger batch. After freezing overnight, these martinis were nothing short of the platonic ideal, so much colder than freshly-stirred ones that the liquid had become smooth and silky.

And it dawned on me. That's how they do it. Pre-made freezer drinks weren't just for alcoholics cosplaying as Joan Crawford; they were for spirit aficionados who knew how to elevate their drinks. I should note that neither Jamie nor I are the first ones to discover this: especially during COVID, the freezer martini was widely covered. But as someone who only recently experienced them, and immediately got giddy thinking about the other drinks you could apply this to, I'd be remiss if I didn't share the secret here at In Good Taste.

A few things worth mentioning: because water freezes and alcohol doesn't (call me a STEM scholar), a freezer door cocktail needs to have high alcohol percentage. The drinks below are, how should we say, spirit-forward, but I've also got a few lower-ABV hacks for my lightweight friends at the end. If your batches get frozen and slushy, you can give 'em a shake and leave them on the counter until they thaw – or even better, do what I did and bump your freezer temperature up a few degrees.

But enough preamble, yeah? Let's get to the booze for god's sake. Below are recipes I've tweaked to fit my preferred ratios, along with a few tips on which liquor brands deserve to be the stars of your show.

Photo credit: Pampered Chef


Makes 12 servings

30 oz gin

10 oz vermouth

9 oz water

0.25 oz orange bitters (optional)

When it comes to a gin martini, the big debate revolves around how much vermouth to add. While a classic dry variation calls for 5 parts gin to 1 part vermouth, you've also got the Bon App-recommended 2:1 martini and even the 50/50 (which I consider a completely different drink, but go off). I'm advocating for a 3:1 ratio, not just because I like to be ~different~, but because it allows a good vermouth to shine through without dominating the show. And while others recommend incorporating a full ounce of water per serving to account for dilution, I found that ¾ ounce was plenty and gave a fresher-tasting result.

While Plymouth Gin undoubtedly makes a top-tier martini, Beefeater is half the cost and just as respectable. It's one of the few budget liquor brands that can hold its weight with the bougier boys. My favorite dry vermouth is made by Carpano Antica, an old-school Italian brand that brings surprising floral and citrus-y notes. And since I'll be shouting out Angostura soon in a different recipe, for the orange bitters I'll recommend Fee Brothers. It's an optional ingredient that I strongly recommend for even more depth of flavor.

Lastly, a question applies to every recipe on this list: what the hell are we batching these in? The answer is clean, functional stopper bottles like these from IKEA. Grab a few to have on hand, either for making different drinks or just triply-batching one of them, and you'll have enough in your arsenal for a party of any size.

Photo credit:


Makes 12 servings

30 oz vodka

6 oz vermouth

3-6 oz olive juice, to your preference

9 oz water

I might be Team Gin in the martini war, but I would never leave you crazy vodka girlies hanging. Since vodka has much less intrinsic flavor to offer (that's not shade on my part;  by definition it's considered a neutral spirit), it's the perfect vessel for a punchy, dirty martini. That being said, I happen to find NEFT Vodka to be absolutely delicious, one of the few varieties that I truly enjoy sipping on. It's a great match for a more straightforward vermouth like Dolin's, and brine from your favorite jar of Castelvetranos or from Filthy's ready-made bag.

Photo credit: Epicurious


Makes 12 servings

18 oz gin

18 oz Campari

18 oz vermouth

9 oz water

Even though the negroni will always be my favorite, perfectly bittersweet drink, there's comparatively little to say here. My gin recommendations stand; Campari is Campari; but where I can make a passionate recommendation is in shouting out Punt e Mes as the ideal red vermouth. You've got to be down with some herbaceousness – if you'd rather a classically sweet vermouth, I'd go the Dolin route again – but amaro fans will love the slightly earthy undertones that Punt e Mes brings to the table.

Having stuck a giant pitcher of negronis in the snow on my last ski trip up to Mammoth, I can confirm from (half-remembered) experience that they freeze as well as the martinis.

Photo credit: Wine Enthusiast


Makes 12 servings

24 ounces whiskey

12 ounces sweet vermouth

9 oz water

0.5 oz Angostura bitters

Now something for the brown liquor hive: the ever-elegant Manhattan. If Old Fashioneds are too stiff for you, give these babies a try – the addition of sweet vermouth brings the whiskey into balance. Tradition, and slight personal preference, calls for rye here over bourbon, and I love an old standby like Rittenhouse as much as anything. But if you've sworn allegiance to bourbon, Woodford Reserve will serve you pretty damn well. Their dated aesthetic kept me from trying it until recently, but it's full of the depth and spice you want in such a bare-bones drink.

But the best part of a Manhattan is the cherry (or four) at the bottom, and I'm ride or die for Fabbri Amarena in that department. Not only do their cherries taste decadent and italiano, their syrup poured over cold gelato is my idea of heaven.

Photo credit: Tasting Table


Makes 12 servings

18 oz reposado tequila

6 oz mezcal

9 oz water

¼ cup agave

¼ oz Angostura bitters

Tequila and mezcal, two of my absolute favorite spirits, often get left out of the party when it comes to freezer cocktails. That's because margarita and palomas, their usual vehicles of choice, wouldn't freeze well at all due to citrus and carbonation respectively. The Oaxacan Old Fashioned, however, is high enough in ABV to stand up to subzero temps, and a crowdpleaser that put mezcal on the map when it debuted at Death & Co. fifteen years ago.

Reposado tequila is the standard here, as it's more aged than a blanco and thus has richer tasting notes. I go with Mijenta for its warming vanilla and tea flavors – plus having that gorgeous bottle on my bar is an added perk that never hurts. For the mezcal also, make sure you choose a "sipper" rather than something formulated just for cocktails. Even though it is a cocktail you're making, the mezcal's really out there front and center. Legendario Domingo Espadin is a great choice, an artisanal product full of fruit and smoke, but I'm even more partial to the delicious new kid on the block, Doña Vega.

Death & Co. would have you char orange peels for extra smoke in your garnish, but if you're fine skipping that flavor these dehydrated oranges from Cocktail Garnish Co. work just as well in my book.

Photo credit: A Couple Cooks


If you felt hungover just reading the above recipes – or at the very least, plan on entertaining guests who like to keep their edges sharp – know that lower-ABV options are just one extra step away. Add some tonic water to a serving of your batched martini, and suddenly you've got a gin, vermouth and tonic. (Just go with a drier tonic since even dry vermouth has some sweetness.)

The Wall Street Journal, of all places, also had the fab idea of transforming your Freezer Manhattan into a highball: just add some quality ginger beer. And that Oaxacan Old Fashioned easily becomes one hell of a Paloma once it's lightened with grapefruit soda. If you're willing to break out lemons, limes and simple syrups, you've got even more options to play with: margaritas, whiskey sours, the list goes on and on.

But the ideas above keep to our theme of doing all your legwork ahead of time – even these custom options are just an easy pour away. So live it up like lushes or keep your new year moderation going. Either way, your freezer is about to become the MVP of the kitchen.

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