When to Batch, When to Keg, and When to Kegnado

Kegnado on bar


When to Batch, When to Keg, and When to Kegnado

It’s not exactly breaking news that batching cocktails (or any mixed beverage) has huge benefits in increasing service throughput and product consistency. There’s a good chance you or your staff have a bunch of jugs with this month’s cocktail specials or your most common drinks under the counter right now, doing just this. If you aren't batching drinks already, it’s as simple as pre-mixing some or all of the ingredients in a large quantity to save steps in mixing individual drinks repeatedly. You can include the spirit in the pre-mix or add it to choice right at the end. Either way, batching is faster, and especially in busy times increasing throughput means more drinks served and happier customers!


Kegging is the next step. If you’ve only ever gotten your kegs from the brewery, and your experience is only hooking them up to your tap system then setting the empties on the curb, mixing up your own might seem a little daunting, but have no fear! You can do this, and once you start, you’ll wish you discovered batching long ago.

Cornelius style kegs are useful for batching because they have a large oval lid that can easily be opened to add ingredients, which also makes them easy to clean and maintain. They are relatively inexpensive, common, and come in convenient sizes.

The first thing to consider is the drink that you want to keg. While anything that can flow through a tap can be kegged, some drinks are easier than others. Drinks made of clear liquids, such as a vodka cranberry, negroni, or manhattan can easily be kegged and do not require stirring to maintain drink-to-drink consistency. The Mixologists at Earl Giles in Minneapolis have decades of experience creating keggable, stable cocktail creations. If you aren't sure or need help with batching your cocktail program a professional mixologist can be a great resource.

Collage of Coffee Martini, Bloody Mary, Pina Colada, Paloma drinks

If your desired drink has fresh or non-homogenized ingredients like citrus juices, bitters, creams, milks, spices or any non-clarified fruit or vegetable juice, you will probably need to stir the keg. More on that below. 

How much to mix?

The next step to consider is how many drinks will you need in a batch. A five gallon Cornelius keg (⅙ of a barrel) holds 640 ounces, or 150-160 4 ounce drinks. If you’re going through this many of a particular drink in a week or less, pre-batching is worth consideration. If you’re going through this many in a night, it’s definitely worth considering! A pre-batched mixed drink can be served from a draft tap in 10-15 seconds. Mixed drinks typically consume over 1 minute of time to mix and serve. So batching 150 drinks in a keg saves 45 seconds per drink. That may not sound like much, but that adds up to nearly 2 HOURS of time saved per 5 gallon keg!

Another way to think of it is that you can move 2-3 additional drinks over the bar per minute compared to hand-mix. At $6 gross profit per drink and 2 more per minute, that’s $1200 an hour extra you could be raking in on your peak times - with little to no additional labor. 

If you add it up and you are moving 200, 300 or more of a certain drink a night or serving in pitchers, larger Cornelius style kegs of 10 and 15 gallons may be the right choice. These are heavy and bulkier to handle in general, so having a plan for moving, filling and cleaning larger kegs should be part of the decision.

How to pour?

The next step to consider is how will you get the drinks out of the keg? If you’ve got extra taps on your tower, great! You’re likely a plug and play, or close to it. Make a quick call to your beverage system’s installer and share what you’re up to, and they can confirm that you’re all set, or recommend any hardware changes that might be needed. 

If you don’t have taps to spare on your tower, don't despair, there are other options. Ball-lock “add-a-taps” are available to attach right to the keg itself. 

Keg Tap

You can pre-pressurize the keg off of your normal system (more on gas choice below) and just set the additional keg in a convenient place in the bar area. This is also great for catered events or other places where temporary beverage stations are set up. The carbon dioxide or nitrogen gas used to pressurize the keg will help keep the contents fresh by keeping air out, but if you have ingredients that will spoil at room temperature, be sure to limit the time the keg is out of the cooler, or develop a means to keep it cool. 

Which is the right gas for my drink? 

To serve still drinks, the kegs should be pressurized with nitrogen. For carbonated drinks, use carbon dioxide. Carbonated kegs will need to be kept cool or the carbonation will be lost in the lines on the way to the drink.


Until now, if you wanted to batch 5 gallons or more and your ingredients separate, occasionally shaking the keg has been the most common solution. A lot of people that tried it came to the conclusion that it wasn't a good idea. This was often because they didn’t shake them enough and wound up serving bad drinks, and then abandoned the idea in frustration. It’s not that it wasn’t a good idea, it’s just that the right stirring solution didn’t exist. Kegnado solves that problem. The original Kegnado stirs 5 gallon and 10 gallon Cornelius kegs gently, and all the way to the last drink. There is even a version that can do 15 gallon Torpedo Kegs - coming soon! Reach out to us to find out more.

Of course, if you're batching alcoholic beverages, you'll want to do your due diligence and check with your local Liquor Control Commission to make sure kegging cocktails is legal in your area. Many older "original container" laws restrict batching with liquor to make sure customers weren't being cheated with cheaper spirits. If you run into a roadblock, it may be possible to present your program to your local liquor control board. Our expertise extends to making and understanding Kegnado as a product; we leave the legal advice for those qualified to offer it. 

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