In the not-so-distant past, if you wanted something to mix with liquor beyond the ubiquitous soda brands and fruit juices, your options for premade mixers were neon-hued, cloyingly sweet liquids, typically bearing pseudo-tropical names and unknown ingredients.
Luckily, cocktail mixers have come a long way in recent years. A growing number of companies (many of them led by former bartenders) have rolled out high-quality mixers, with more flavorful ingredients and scant amounts of sugar, that prioritize the overall flavor of the cocktail, not simply mask the taste of liquor.
While you could still opt for any soda or juice, keep in mind that most bartenders mix drinks with a 2:1 or 3:1 ratio of mixer to liquor. So if only about one-quarter to one-third of your drink is alcohol, mixers play a big role in how your cocktail tastes, enhancing the flavors of the spirit or camouflaging it entirely.
These 7 improved mixers make crafting a tasty homemade cocktail as easy as adding alcohol. Now, that’s something we can all “cheers” to.
Rather than source scarce groundwater from municipal taps or springs, Asarasi found a unique alternative: maple trees. The water is harvested from the tree through the same taps that collect maple syrup. From there, the sugar is filtered out before the water is carbonated and enhanced with fruit extracts like lemon, wild cherry with lime, and pink grapefruit. The sparkling water would pair well with any spirit you might mix with soda water. Alternatively, add it and some seasonal fruit to wine to craft a summery spritzer.
One of the many tricks in servers’ and bartenders' arsenals involves a simple beverage to help when they’re not feeling well on shift: bitters and soda. Once an apothecary staple, the bitters help with digestive health and promote anti-inflammation, while the soda makes it palatable. While many have in fact adopted bitters and soda as a nonalcoholic beverage in and of itself, the two are also the main ingredients in Hella Cocktail Co.’s Bitters & Soda mixers (and myriad classic cocktails). The brand currently has five options for their canned mixers: dry aromatic, spritz aromatic, grapefruit, ginger turmeric, and lemon-lime. While they’re lovely on their own, each could be mixed with your choice of liquor for a simple, aromatic, and tasty cocktail. Mix the ginger turmeric with vodka, gin, or tequila for a mule with a spicy kick.
3. Fever Tree
If you’re aware of Fever Tree, it’s likely because their ginger beers, tonic, and soda waters have been around since 2005. However, just this year the brand launched their Distillers Cola, made with actual Caribbean kola nuts, Tahitian limes, and a blend of botanicals and spices like Jamaican pimento berries and Madagascan vanilla. The flavors are meant to enhance fine aged spirits like rum and whiskey, rather than cover them up. Unlike some other cola beverages, the Fever Tree iteration has no high-fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, colors, or GMO ingredients.
4. Free Rain
While Free Rain’s sparkling waters are tasty enough to be sipped on their own, they can also give your cocktail a serious perking up, while also giving you a boost. Each soda water includes natural fruit flavors and adaptogenic herbs meant to unlock specific health benefits: tart cherry and Siberian ginseng (meant to provide energy); blood orange, ginger, and ashwagandha (to help with focus); and blackberry and passionflower (for calm). The botanicals would pair well with your favorite gin or vodka. And really, the marriage of the energizing adaptogens and alcohol basically make it a grown-up Four Loko.
While Olipop carries familiar soda flavors like root beer, classic grape, and cherry vanilla, it’s anything but run-of-the-mill. Beyond being low in sugar, the beverages are meant to support digestive health with prebiotics, botanical extracts, and 9 grams of dietary fiber. To elevate the sodas to adults-only status, try serving the root beer or ginger lemon with bourbon.
Margaritas, Moscow mules, cosmopolitans, mojitos, and bloody Marys have a couple things in common: They all require several ingredients to make from scratch, and the bottled mix options are often the most saccharine at a given bar or restaurant. Splash, however, has created five all-natural mixers made with real fruit juices—all you have to do is add alcohol. If you don’t fancy a boozy beverage, you can also serve the mixers with sparkling water for a tasty mocktail.
7. United Sodas
It’s not often that you look at a pack of sodas and think, “wow, that’s just really pretty.” United Sodas delivers a rainbow-hued variety pack with 12 flagship flavors, including strawberry basil, pear elderflower, sour blueberry, and toasted coconut, among others, none of which includes artificial ingredients. It strikes a nice balance between sugary craft sodas and barely-flavored sparkling waters. There’s something for everyone—and every liquor—in this box, so feel free to play around. Might we recommend mixing the pear elderflower soda with your favorite gin for a take on a French gimlet? Or the gingery ale with rum for a play on the dark and stormy?