Learn with A Bar Above

Mixers

Photo by opyh/ CC BY

Mixers

Anything that does not have alcohol in it could be called a “mixer” in a drink. But we’ve already talked about a lot of other things like syrups and purees. So in this chapter we’ll just cover a few of the remaining options.

There are dozens of types of mixers out there:

  • Stimulants like coffee, tea or energy drinks
  • Carbonated beverages, from soda water to cola
  • Juices made from fruit or vegetables
  • Milks & Creams
  • Any number of commercially produced drink mixes like “Margarita mix”

Our Focus:

In this section we’re going to focus on what I believe to be the most commonly used in drinks in bars: carbonated beverages & juices

Photo by Wonderlane / CC BY

Juice in Cocktails

We already talked a little about juices in the context of souring & sweetening ingredients, but it’s worth mentioning them again here. Juices are a great way to add flavor to a drink, and they are very easy to work with in cocktails. You can use everything from common fruit juices to less common things like guava, carrot or even celery. (If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend considering buying a juicer so you can make your own fresh juices.)

Juices in Cocktails:

  • It’s important to highlight the fact that juices cross a wide spectrum of sour to sweetness, so you will almost certainly have to make adjustments to your drink to rebalance it on the sour/sweet spectrum.
  • Sometimes just adding juice to cocktails can unnecessarily water down the drink (taking it too low on the “alcohols” spectrum). If you run into this problem, you have a couple of options:
    • Reduce the juice in a saucepan to evaporate some of the water and concentrate the flavor
    • Use the juice as the “liquid” part when making simple syrup (as mentioned in the “Syrups” section)
Photo by Woody1778a / CC BY

Carbonated Beverages

Carbonated beverages have become standard cocktail ingredients behind the bar. They are found everywhere from craft cocktail bars to college dorm parties. The effervescent quality of soda can definitely add to the mouth-feel of a drink, as well as bringing some flavor along for the ride.

Carbonated Beverages in Cocktails:

  • As with any mixer, again, be sure to keep in mind the sugar content. Most carbonated beverages contain sugar to some degree, with common colas being extremely sweet. Since carbonated beverages are always added to the drink last (to minimize disrupting the carbonation), you’ll want to build your drink to be too sour before this last, sweet ingredient is added (and balances it out in the end.)
  • This may come as a surprise, but carbonated beverages often bring some sourness as well.  This even applies to unflavored ingredients like soda water. Consider adjusting the recipe to reduce the souring ingredients slightly to compensate.

Ideas for Flavored Carbonated Beverages:

  • Tonic Water
  • Sodas
  • Sparkling Wine
  • Beer
  • Juice that has been carbonated