Brag all you want about your premium liquor but a cocktail is only as good as its worst ingredient. A common downfall for many home bartenders? Bad mixers. Luckily, there are now gourmet alternatives.
Craving a gin and tonic? Forget the big supermarket brands, which have as much high-fructose corn syrup as cola, and try instead the crisper and less cloying Q Tonic ($8 for a four-pack of 187-mL bottles). It’s made with organic agave and real Peruvian quinine as opposed to the commonly used synthetic substitute.
The British Fever-Tree also makes excellent tonic waters—regular, light and soon lemon—and four other top-shelf mixers ($6 for a four-pack of 200 ml bottles), including an all-natural ginger beer. The brand’s club soda is even an improvement with extra-carbonation that keeps your drink fizzy for a long time.
It’s traditionally been best to avoid pre-made drink mixes, but even these products have been upgraded recently. Purista’s line of four mixes, including Mojito and Margarita, is made with fresh juice (not from concentrate), filtered water, organic sugar cane juice and real mint. Each 750 ml bottle ($10) makes 17 very easy cocktails.
You can also do things the old fashioned way and make your own. The POV bar at the W Hotel in Washington, D.C., creates a range of sodas daily—not a surprise given that it’s run by Sasha Petraske, who owns the famed Milk & Honey bar in New York. Whipping up fresh soda is deceptively simple (see the recipe below), but you will need to invest in a soda siphon (about $70). It is also a surefire way to jazz up a classic cocktail and impress your friends.
Contributed by: Justin Guthrie, Director of Bar Concepts, W Washington, DC
- 12 oz Fresh grapefruit juice
- 4 oz Simple syrup
Add the juice and simple syrup to a soda siphon and charge with a co2 canister. Spray into a glass full of ice or a shaker.