Photo by Max Pixel.net / Creative Commons Zero - CC0
Mixers are generally nonalcoholic ingredients that provide balance and flavor when mixed with alcohol to create a cocktail. Just remember: to make the best-tasting cocktail, always go fresh.
List of Cocktail Mixers
The main juices most bars stock include cranberry, grapefruit, lemon, lime, orange, and pineapple. Other juices that bars could offer include apple, carrot, clam, olive, pomegranate, and tomato.
The main sodas most bars stock include cola, diet cola, ginger ale, lemon-lime, soda water, tonic water, and Perrier. Other sodas that bars could offer include Dr. Pepper, root beer, ginger beer, and anything they would need for a special cocktail on the menu.
Unless you are rimming a glass edge or making an Old-Fashioned the old-fashioned way, sugar behind the bar is mostly used in a liquid state called “simple syrup.” This is because the liquid mixes better in cocktails than granulated sugar. Many bars make their own simple syrup because it’s easy! To make two cups of simple syrup, all you need is one cup of granulated sugar and one cup of warm to hot water. Mix in a blender or a saucepan until the sugar dissolves and you’ve made simple syrup. This syrup can be kept in the refrigerator for a month.
Other sweeteners a bar can stock include agave nectar, coconut cream, grenadine, gomme syrup, honey, orgeat syrup, pureés, or any flavored syrup the bar needs for certain cocktails on their menu.
The most common dairy mixer behind bars is half-and-half (half milk and half cream). Other dairy mixers that could be found behind bars are cream, eggs, eggnog, ice cream, and unsalted butter. Some bars carry nondairy plant-based options that include soy milk, almond milk, rice milk, and coconut milk.
Other popular mixers behind a bar include Bloody Mary mix, strawberry mix, Margarita mix, Piña Colada mix, sweet and sour mix, apple cider, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, hot water, and apple cider vinegar. The first five mixers mentioned can be purchased, but those products are low-quality fake options. It’s best to make them yourself.
Many added ingredients can be added, stirred, or shaken into a cocktail to enhance the flavor and texture. Some of these include, spices, herbs, and sauces such as steak sauce, Worcestershire, and hot sauce.
Homemade Cocktail Mixer Recipes
Have you ever tried to mix a spoonful of sugar in your iced tea only to find the sugar at the bottom of the glass? This is why it’s easier to mix syrups into cocktails. Simple syrup is the base of all syrups and it’s very easy to make. If you want to avoid sugar and need a low glycemic option then try Markus Sweet, Monkfruit sweetener, stevia, or xylitol sweet.
(Makes 2 cups)
1 cup water, hot or boiling
1 cup granulated sugar of your choice
Now, there are a few ways you can combine the water and the sugar to create simple syrup. Just choose the one that works for you.
Pour the sugar and hot or boiling water into a blender, and then blend until sugar is dissolved (about a minute).
Pour the sugar and hot or boiling water into a large jar or bottle and secure the lid, and then shake until sugar is dissolved (about a minute).
Bring the water to almost boiling in a pot, add the sugar, and then stir until dissolved.
Allow the syrup to cool and then store in bottles or jars in the refrigerator for up to a week. If you need to make more, then increase the portions. The sugar in this base recipe can be replaced with honey, agave, Splenda, maple syrup, brown sugar, or whatever you want.
Now, let us say, for example, that you want to make a ginger syrup. All you need to do is add hot ginger-flavored water with the sugar and you will have ginger syrup. To make ginger-flavored water, you would wash some gingerroot, cut it in slices, put it into a pot with water, and then bring to a boil. Once it starts to boil, turn it down to simmer for about thirty minutes so it extracts the ginger flavor from the gingerroot. When ready, strain out the ginger and then add your sugar to the ginger water. Mix until the sugar melts and voila! You made ginger syrup.
Now, let us say you want to make cucumber syrup. Well, cucumbers are more delicate than gingerroot, so you’ll want to infuse sliced cucumbers with water in a jar and then let sit on the counter for a few hours. You can agitate the jar a few times to help the cucumbers release flavor faster. When finished, just strain the cucumber water into a pot and set on medium. For the sugar to melt, you will need to heat the cucumber water warm enough.
You now know how to make any simple syrup or any flavored simple syrup you want with any fruit, vegetable, spice, or herb. In addition, when making citrus syrup from lemons, limes, oranges, etc., you only use the rind of the fruit, not the meat.
Grenadine: Replace the water portion with pomegranate juice.
Tea Syrup: Add tea bags to the water when heating.
When you are ready for the next level, get creative and try combinations such as honey-ginger syrup, mint-agave syrup, cinnamon-orange syrup, jalapeño-maple syrup, etc.
Why use store-bought Margarita mix when you can make the real (and better) stuff at home? If you want to avoid sugar and need a low glycemic option, then try Markus Sweet, Monkfruit sweetener, stevia, or xylitol.
Makes 6 cups
2 cups fresh lime juice
2 cups simple syrup
2 cups water
Blend ingredients in a blender for ten seconds, or shake ingredients together in a large lidded jar, then stop and do a taste test. Some people like sweet mix and some like sour. Some like to add a little orange juice. Just adjust the amount of simple syrup, water, or lime juice according to your personal preference. This will keep in the refrigerator for two days and you can always freeze it.
Sweet-and-Sour Mix (often called Sour Mix)
The egg whites will put a nice frothy top on top of a Whiskey Sour. If you want to use the mix for a Rum Punch or Long Island Iced Tea, you can leave them out. If you want to avoid sugar and need a low glycemic option, try Markus Sweet, Monkfruit sweetener, stevia, or xylitol.
Makes 6 cups
2 cups fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
2 cups simple syrup
4 organic egg whites
1 cup water
Blend ingredients in a blender for ten seconds, or shake ingredients together in a large lidded jar, and then stop and do a taste test. Some people like sweet mix and some like sour. Just adjust the amount of simple syrup, water, or lemon juice according to your personal preference. With egg whites, it will only keep half a day. Without egg whites, it will keep two days and you can always freeze it.
Piña Colada Mix
It is easy to make real Piña Colada mix, so there’s no reason to buy the stuff on the shelf. You can find the Coco Lopez in the mixer section of your local grocer.
Makes 10 cups
1 (46-ounce) can of pineapple juice (fresh-squeezed pineapple juice)
2 (15-ounce) cans of Coco Lopez coconut cream
6 drops vanilla extract
Blend all the ingredients in a blender for five seconds, then refrigerate. It will last for two days and you can always freeze it.
Strawberry Daiquiri Mix
You will thank yourself for taking the time to make your own strawberry mix. If you want to avoid sugar and need a low glycemic option, then try Markus Sweet, Monkfruit sweetener, stevia, or xylitol.
Makes 5 cups
2 cups unsweetened frozen strawberries, semi-thawed
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1 cup simple syrup
Blend all the ingredients in a blender for about ten seconds. Stop, taste-test, and then adjust the amount of simple syrup, lime juice, and strawberries according to your personal preference. Refrigerate. It will last for three days and you can always freeze it. If you want it to last two weeks, leave out the fresh lime juice and add to the blender when making a Strawberry Daiquiri or Margarita.
Need something quick to make a Rum Punch without having to pick up five containers? Then just batch these ingredients together. If you need less, cut the recipe in half.
Makes 1 gallon
4 cups fresh-squeezed orange juice
4 cups pineapple juice
2 cup homemade grenadine
4 cups sweet-and-sour mix, without egg whites
Pour all ingredients into a gallon container. It will last for three days and you can always freeze it.
Bloody Mary Mix
This recipe will get you started making your own Bloody Mary mix. You can adjust it to your own taste preferences. You can also add other ingredients such as roasted garlic, rosemary, basil, beef bouillon cubes, wasabi, avocado, apple cider vinegar, chili powder, and bitters.
Makes 1 gallon
2 ounces lime juice
8 ounces A.1. sauce
4 ounce raw horseradish (optional)
8 ounces Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce
1 heaping tablespoon black peppercorns, blended
1 heaping tablespoon celery seed, blended
2 (46-ounce) cans whole plum tomatoes
Water as needed
Dashes of Tabasco sauce, if desired
Add the lime juice, A.1. sauce, horseradish, and Worcestershire sauce into a large open-mouthed container. Pour the celery seed and peppercorns in a blender and blend on high for thirty seconds, and then dump into the large container. Fill the blender halfway with the whole plum tomatoes and then add water to fill. Blend on high for twenty seconds. Fine-strain into the container. Continue this step until all the tomatoes have been blended and strained. Mix all ingredients, pour into sterilized jars or bottles, and refrigerate.
This recipe is for rose water, but you can use the petals of any nontoxic flower to make fragrant water.
Makes 1 cup
3 cups filtered water
2 cups rinsed rose petals
1 ounce vodka
Pour petals and the water into a pot, then bring to a boil. Simmer, covered, for thirty minutes. Cool, then strain into a sterilized container or bottle. Add vodka for preservation.