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Having the right mixers at home is equally as important as having the right spirits. Who wants to stand around sipping vodka and water when you could be handing your pals and associates a refreshing Moscow Mule with fresh lime juice, spicy ginger beer, and a beautiful garnish?
The spirits and mixers you decide on stocking depend on your style. If you have a lot of drop-in guests, you might need a larger cross-section of accouterments on hand. If your bar is for your own enjoyment most of the time, then you can tailor your liquor and mixers more specifically to your tastes, having some essentials on standby in case your book club changes locations to your place at the last minute.
Here are 7 mixers you should keep in the fridge or on the shelf that will earn some gold stars with your impromptu garden party or with yourself (“Good lookin’ out, past self. Loving this gin and tonic tonight!”).
Lemons and Limes
The quintessential essential. A large percentage of mixed drinks call for lemon or lime juice and/or garnish. Don’t punish yourself with the pre-bottled juice at the market, when it’s so easy to grab a couple lemons and limes every time you're at the grocery store and squeeze your own. Your tastebuds will thank you time and time again!
If you’re comfortable with store-bought ones, here are very good choices.
Others use concentrates but Lakewood Organic lives by its tagline “living a healthy life is the path to a happy life” so they ditched the concentrate, preservatives, sugar, and all other additives to lengthen the shelf-life of a product. So, yes, this is the next best thing to fresh lime juice.
True to the Lakewood Organic tradition, their lemon juice is made of just that - juice. No sugars, preservatives, and sulfites. Surprisingly, this keeps well for up to 8 weeks from opening if kept refrigerated. It’s also Kosher and organic-certified so it can be used by almost anyone, including those with dietary and religious restrictions. Sure, it’s a bit pricier than the next best thing but your health should never be scrimped.
A true essential these days, you can pour this with any base spirit and have a wonderfully delicious bubbly concoction within a moment’s notice. Pro tip: combine with a lemon or lime - cut in half and squeeze, drop a wedge in or express the peel, rub the glass rim with the exterior of the fruit and drop it in for the win!
Make your own mocktail with the Perrier Carbonated Mineral Water by blending together some strawberry puree, vanilla syrup, and chilled Perrier. It’s a really refreshing drink for a hot summer day. Best to make your favorite mojito, Tom Collins, and spritzes.
Do you know you can actually detox with sparkling water? Lime-flavored bubly Sparkling Water mixed with ginger and lime juice will do just that. It cleans the palate and enhances the digestion with the carbonation in it. It also makes a wonderful lime soda cocktail mixed with your favorite vodka.
Keep a six-pack or two at the ready! So many of your dropper’s by will want a Moscow Mule and if you have ginger beer, limes, vodka, and stylish copper mugs on hand, they’ll think you planned their arrival! We know you want a mule, too. So do it for yourself.
Others can’t decide so Q Mixers decided. No, just a mixer, not soda. But you’ll never go wrong with this when you make your favorite Moscow Mule. What’s the term - ubiquitous? Yes, that’s what they aim for.
Brooklyn Crafted never wanted to settle so while others aimed for the subtle, they went to the kill and all-out - extra spicy. Definitely not for the faint-hearted. It’s been on the list of top best ginger beers so it speaks for itself. Aside from classic Moscow Mule, ramp up your El Diablo with an extra spicy ginger beer. Just throw in reposado tequila, creme de cassis, lime juice, and ginger beer and voila! El Diablo to the highest level!
It’s kind of ironic to name a product that contains a remedy for malaria with the tree that was supposed to cause malaria. Well, that might be the company’s way of cleaning Fever-Tree's (yes, there is an actual tree bearing that name) reputation and proving that the fever-tree is not the cause of the problem but the source of the cure. So, yes, quinine from fever-tree combined with spring water became your favorite tonic water for your G&T.
A bit of trivia. Q’s original formula is tonic water and its name came from quinine which is one of the ingredients of tonic water. A bit bitter due to the quinine, tonic water gives a different edge to the G&T. But don’t live in a box. Tonic water can be paired with tequila and vodka in the same way that it works with gin. To make it less bitter, add a pinch of salt into your cocktail.
A base spirit, lemon or lime, and simple syrup are your basic sour, and I bet you or your pals have a real soft spot for them because they are well balanced and sophisticated with very little effort. It’s so easy to make your own you should just do it. Mix equal amounts of sugar and water in a saucepan, heat and stir for a few minutes and you’re done. Add fruits, herbs, or teas to the mix to make something fun and special. Simple syrup will store in the fridge for about 3 weeks, so plan accordingly.
Let’s just say not all syrups are created equal because no other company cares for bees and the environment than Monin. Recycling their waste syrup to feed the bees, they have already fed 374 billion bees. We don’t know how they could have counted those swarms but whatever, they did their part and we do ours when we buy. Not that we will force you to buy it, we just wanted you to know. Nevertheless, they do make the best cocktails with its clean taste and zero aromas to mess up with your cocktail’s flavor profile.
This simple syrup is definitely swoon-worthy for bringing sweetness without the carbs. No artificial sweeteners, no sugar, not even stevia. How did they do that? Presenting the monk fruit! Recently approved by the FDA as a good alternative for sweeteners, it contains zero sugars and up to 250 times sweeter than table sugar. No wonder you can’t find fat monks.
Aromatic and orange bitters are must-haves. They’ll add depth and flavor to almost any cocktail. They are also essentials in a large swatch of classic and modern-classic cocktail recipes. A bottle of each should last you years.
What is Manhattan without the bitters? Angostura is one of the three bitters that survived the Prohibition. The thirteen-year attempt to end the trade of alcoholic beverages proved to be futile because of smugglers. Apparently, Angostura which started making their bitters in 1863 have kept their recipe well that they were able to get back to business just as soon as the Prohibition was lifted.
Bittermens pride themselves on making just a very small batch of their bitters but manage to keep them priced competitively. Though it sounds like it’s made purposely for tiki cocktails, they can really be used in other cocktails with similar ingredients with the mai tai.
Cola or diet cola
Even if you don’t drink soda, have a few cans of each on hand. They’ll last forever and that mystery guest who only drinks bourbon and diet will pop up some time. Make them happy. They deserve it.
Why settle for one when you can have three? This definitely offers more choices. So, here’s to more Cuba Libre and Cherry Cola Rum to enjoy!
If you’re not happy with the other brand, you can always choose the other.
Starting and maintaining a home bar is both a challenge and an opportunity. Having the right mixers in your home bar makes it easier to make your own cocktails but only if you know what to have firsthand. That is why it is a challenge.
But we have you covered here. So, good luck and get ready to host your own party!