Part of the annual Father’s Day tradition is figuring out what dads want. No one is quite sure. This, presumably, is why whiskey stones were invented: What dad, the logic goes, wouldn’t want a frozen sack of rocks?
There is no universal answer, because dads are not a monolith. Dads represent a rich tapestry of human experience. There are golf dads, for example. There are Phish dads. There are C-SPAN dads and abstract-expressionist dads. Probably, there are dads who would be delighted by a whiskey stone.
The clock is ticking. It is too late to order him custom socks with pictures of your face. You cannot get him tickets to anything, because we don’t have events anymore. You did a cheese subscription last year.
Perhaps your dad would like a nice array of attractive, pre-batched cocktails?
Giving dads bottles of alcohol is an age-old tradition, but the advantage here, besides originality, is that you made it, which is universal proof of a child’s love. In this way, it is exactly like the grown-up version of a macaroni necklace.
Here is what you do: Make several batches of different cocktails and then pour them into attractive glass bottles. Or any glass bottles, as long as they can go in the freezer. Wide-mouthed canning jars are also fine. Dads appreciate thrift! It is handy if you also have a wide-mouth canning funnel — wide-mouth canning funnels are an unsung hero of the kitchen, I think — but if you don’t, moderate hand-eye coordination is also fine.
Some cocktails particularly lend themselves to batching. Martinis may in fact be better batched, although this is controversial. “There’s something really intense about it,” pro-batch bartender Tristan Willey once told Grub. “At first, you get this really viscous drink, and as it warms up it gets a little more exposed, and you start to get the vermouth a little more, and the botanicals open up.” And doesn’t your dad deserve open botanicals?
The key here is to stick with cocktails that don’t require fresh juice: martinis, old-fashioneds, Negronis. A batch of boulevardiers might be nice, or a bottle of Manhattans. Liquor-on-liquor drinks will last in the freezer more or less indefinitely, but fruit-based drinks are going to get weird. (This is disappointing for mojito dads but great for you, because it means you don’t have to spend the afternoon discovering the tiny cuts in your hands by squeezing endless limes.)
Once you’ve decided on your menu, it is time to batch. Batching requires slightly different ratios than regular one-drink mixing. You’ll want to cut back on bitters, which would be overwhelming if you just scaled them up. Drinks will also need a splash of water to make up for the dilution that usually comes from rolling them around with ice. Punch has a pleasantly approachable overview of your general batch considerations, while cocktail cookbook author Maggie Hoffman has a very detailed guide to the actual math at Serious Eats.
The wonderful thing is that whatever you do, it will probably be fine. Just stick to simple drinks. An adequate cocktail is better than no cocktail at all, I always say, especially if it was premade by someone else and is already chilling in my freezer. I cannot speak for all dads, but I assume, by virtue of our shared humanity, that mostly they agree.
“But my dad has never expressed any desire for batched cocktails!” you may be thinking. Almost certainly, this is correct: Nobody is asking for a freezer of homemade batched cocktails, but that is only because the best gifts cannot be asked for in advance. They are things the recipient wants but does not yet know they want. You cannot buy the best gifts for yourself, because the best gifts exceed the bounds of your own imagination. A literal batch of cocktail is indulgent and also a little bit absurd. Most Tuesday nights do not call for a selection of frozen, premixed cocktails, but then, that is their charm. Shall I pour a bit of Negroni for myself?, your dad will get to think to himself, or maybe it’s more of a martini night? Part of your gift is that he can now ask himself this question.
Your final challenge is delivery. If you live near your dad, this is no problem. Just drop them off. Bottled cocktails are excellent for socially distanced delivery. You could even stash them in the freezer yourself. My dad would find this confusing, I think — Why are there bottles in my freezer? — but it is possible that other dads cope better with surprises.
For the far-away dad … well. As a law-abiding citizen, I cannot advise you, except to say it is illegal to ship alcohol through USPS (don’t), and UPS and FedEx both technically require an amount of paperwork that likely exceeds your interest in this project. If one were looking for a workaround, however, one might find advice on the internet, and if have read this far, you are likely not averse to internet advice.
There are all sorts of understandable reasons why your dad might not want several bottles of premixed cocktails, including but not limited to: alcohol, taste, and freezer space. (In this case, my father suggests a flashlight.) If you are inspired to bottle, though, do not let this dissuade you. Perhaps you know a dad who might like some batch cocktails? Are you yourself a dad, and would you like some batch cocktails? Maybe you’re married to a dad? Versatility is just one more merit of this perfect gift.