Looking to shake up your cocktail game? Making cocktails is fun, delicious, and easy, and with this list of the 9 Must-Have Cocktail Mixers for Your Home Bar, you’ll be on your way to great drinks in no time!
What Are Cocktail Mixers?
Cocktail mixers are ingredients used to enhance the flavor and balance of mixed alcoholic drinks. They can be the difference between a whisky and soda or a stunning cocktail infused with layers of flavors.
Mixers are typically added to spirits to create a more complex and enjoyable drinking experience, and they can be divided into several categories.
- Sour mixers
- Sweet mixers
- Bitter mixers
- Fizzy mixers
Mixers are an essential part of any cocktail because they enhance the drink’s acidity, sweetness, depth, carbonation, and texture.
The Different Kinds of Mixers
The difference between a drink and a cocktail is the ingredients. Anyone can add soda to rum, vodka, or whisky, but to create a magical cocktail in your home bar, you must have mixers. Each mixer lends something different to a drink.
“Cocktail mixers can make or break your cocktail, so it’s essential to pair wisely to produce the desired flavor. For example, tonic water is a one of the most well known mixers, especially with gin. Tonic water contains quinine which is slightly bitter and it complements gin, which has a similar flavor profile.”
— Mandy Applegate, Splash of Taste
- Sour mixers, like lemon or lime juice, add acidity and tanginess to your drink, helping balance the sweetness and alcohol.
- Sweet mixers, like simple syrup or grenadine, add sweetness to drinks, making them more enjoyable.
- Bitter mixers, like Angostura bitters, add depth and complexity to your drink, making it more exciting to sip.
- Fizzy mixers, like tonic water or soda water, add carbonation to your drink, making it more refreshing and lively.
- Creamy mixers, like cream or eggs, add richness and texture to your drink, making it more satisfying and indulgent.
- Infused syrups are flavor-infused, sweetened add-ins to transform humble cocktails into mixologist-worthy creations.
Sour mixers are ingredients used to add acidity and tanginess to a cocktail. These mixers are typically made from citrus fruits such as lemons or limes. Some popular sour mixers include:
- Lemon juice: adds a bright, tangy flavor
- Lime juice: adds a zesty, citrusy flavor
- Orange juice: adds sweet citrus notes to the beverage
- Pineapple juice: adds a sweet, tropical flavor
Sweet mixers are ingredients that add sweetness to a cocktail. These mixers are typically made from sugar or syrups. Some popular sweet mixers include:
- Simple syrup: a mixture of sugar and water that is used to sweeten cocktails
- Grenadine: a sweet syrup made from pomegranates
- Honey: adds a natural sweetness to a cocktail or sangria
- Agave nectar: a sweetener made from the sap of the agave plant
Bitter mixers are ingredients that add depth and complexity to a cocktail. These mixers are typically made from various herbs, spices, and roots. Some popular bitter mixers include:
- Angostura bitters: a popular brand of bitters that adds a complex, spicy flavor to a cocktail
- Campari: a bitter liqueur that adds a unique, bitter flavor to a cocktail
- Aperol: a bitter orange liqueur that adds a light and refreshing flavor to a cocktail
Fizzy mixers add carbonation and fun bubbles to a cocktail. These mixers are typically made from a base of carbonated water. Some popular fizzy mixers include:
- Tonic water: adds a light, bubbly texture to cocktails along with a hint of flavor from the quinine
- Soda water: adds a light, bubbly texture but has a neutral flavor
- Prosecco: a sparkling wine that adds lovely bubbles and light flavor to a cocktail
Creamy mixers are used to add richness and texture to a cocktail. These mixers are typically made from cream or eggs. Some popular creamy mixers include:
- Cream: adds a rich, creamy texture to a cocktail
- Egg whites: adds a frothy, creamy texture
- Coconut cream: adds a rich, creamy texture and tropical flavor to a cocktail
Infused Syrups and Pre-made Mixers
“Pre-made mixers and syrups are a great way to incorporate complexity into a cocktail. They’re often infused with botanicals that complement the spirit. Just check the ingredients to ensure they are made from natural plants and cane sugar, not artificial flavors or high-fructose corn syrup.” Kat Duvic, Founder of Social Mixers.
- Infused syrups like ginger-lemongrass, lemon-rosemary, or lime-coriander
- Pre-made mixers include margarita mix, pina colada mix, and so on.
The 9 Best Cocktail Mixers for Cocktails at Home
Having several mixers on hand is a great idea; when friends drop by, you can offer them a cocktail instead of a beer, glass of wine, or liqueur. Have some munchies, like Baked Ricotta Dip, to help digest the liquor. There are some essentials to have on hand to create various quick, easy, and tasty cocktails.
“Stock up on a few mixers, such as ginger beer for Moscow Mules, club soda for highballs and tonic water for gin & tonics.” Recommends Susannah Brinkley Henry from Feast And West. She also suggests buying bigger bottles of mixers if you expect a crowd; otherwise, cans are great for single servings. Cans are also perfect for cocktails while camping or when you’re traveling.
Here’s what you should have on hand:
- Ginger beer or ginger ale
- Juices like orange juice and cranberry juice
- Tonic water and soda water
- Bitters like Angostura bitters
- Fresh citrus, limes or lemons or both
- Simple syrup (dissolve one part sugar into one part water, then chill)
Making cocktails isn’t hard and there are so many different fun recipes to try. And, for a well-rounded cocktail experience, serve your drinks with tasty eats and appetizers like Sauerkraut Balls with Sausage.
No matter if you’re an expert mixologist or just a dabbler and a lover of cocktails, a good cocktail is a thing of beauty. Adding flavor, texture, and complexity to mixed drinks, cocktail mixers are an essential part of every home bar.
Jenn Allen is a retired chef turned cookbook author, blogger, and traveler. She lives at home with her family and the cats that rule them all. Get all of her travel tips, stories and more at AllTheBestSpots.com.