The Imbibe Live Guide to Drinks Mixers
When it comes to drinks mixers, there’s a whole world of combinations to tickle your taste buds.
Non-alcoholic mixers can elevate and complement the flavour of your chosen spirit, and with the rise in popularity of gin, the market for complementary mixers has broadened immensely. So (deep breath) if you’re curious about what to stock or looking for some ideas, here’s our guide to the essential drinks mixers that you need to try.
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What is a gin without a tonic? Nothing works better together than the classic duo, and the proof is in the pudding because everyone is drinking it these days. The most common tonic water is Indian tonic water with its slightly bitter quinine taste and sweet lemon undertones. Nowadays though, thanks to the rise of posh drinks mixer brand Fever Tree (previous Imbibe Live exhibitors, wink wink) there’s a huge array of tonic waters available on the market. From aromatic tonic water, Mediterranean, Elderflower, cucumber or lemon, the combinations are endless and offer the opportunity to experiment with different flavours to complement your chosen brand of gin.
If you’re not a fan of tonic water, you might want to try the following. Gin goes extremely well with citrus flavours, so bitter lemon could be a good choice if you’re looking for something zesty to pair with your favourite gin. But if that’s not quite your thing, you could instead go super basic and mix with some good old lemonade like Schweppes or Belvoir (or even pink lemonade if you want that pop of raspberry).
If you love that gingery zing, then be sure to try this combo. It seems that until recently we’ve been underestimating the power of a good ginger beer; this concoction is now growing in popularity, adding a warm spice to bring out the botanical flavours of your gin (think cinnamon, cardamom and orange). Combine ginger beer, or ginger ale for a subtler flavour with less of that gingery burn, with Tanqueray dry London gin or Sipsmith Strawberry Smash gin for a delicious combination.
It’s true when they say that vodka goes with just about anything. When it comes to vodka mixers it’s all about how adventurous you’re feeling, because it’s entirely down to you to ramp up or down the complexity of the flavours and mixes to get the desired outcome. For now, let’s start with the basic must-have mixers to pair with vodka.
Soda water mixed with vodka is a classic low-calorie, neutral drink that we couldn’t ignore. Soda water helps dilute the strength of the spirit without reducing the flavour, so it’s the perfect combination if you’re looking for something light and not too sugary sweet. Also worth noting that if you’ve opted for a slightly pricier vodka and you’re really looking to experience the full flavour of it, soda water might be your best bet!
We all know that a cheap vodka often needs mixing with something that will take the edge off the flavour, in which case we recommend mixing with cranberry juice. With its sweet and bitter edge cranberry should be your go-to if you’re looking to effectively mask an, ahem, budget vodka taste. Sometimes considered to be a beginners’ drink, vodka cranberry can be served as simple two-ingredient cocktail or you can give it a boost with a splash of lime and orange juice to add a little extra je ne sais quoi. Great for an evening out, serve with a wedge of lime.
When it comes to orange juice and vodka (otherwise known as the screwdriver), it’s a super easy drink, but can lend itself to experimentation. In its basic form, it’s really just a shot of vodka topped up with orange juice, but if you’re in the mood to add a little more pizazz then we recommend trying a flavoured vodka with the orange juice instead. Alternatively, if you want a lighter version of the drink, you can add a splash of soda to dilute the sweetness of the orange. As for the type of orange juice you choose (smooth or pulpy?), we’ll leave that decision to you…
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If you like piña coladas (and getting caught in the rain), then pineapple juice will be a good mixer for you to have with rum; its fruity and tropical taste mimics the flavours of a piña colada without going all the way. The best thing about mixing rum with pineapple juice is that you can use any type of rum to make it. Spiced, dark or light, simply throw the two together and the finished product is a) delicious and b) likely to make you feel like you’re lounging on a beach somewhere (if you close your eyes).
Rum and coke is probably one of the most well-known rum drinks. Easy to make, delicious to drink and it’s very likely that you’ll have these two drinks in your cupboard. There’s very little room for error here given that, again, just about any rum can be mixed with coke and vice versa - ever tried cherry coke with rum? It’s spot on.
This is maybe a bit of a basic combo (it takes us back to our university days) but nevertheless it’s a classic and we couldn’t not mention Coca-Cola in a mixers article! If you’re feeling fancy, then opt for a cola-flavoured seltzer and be sure to correct everyone who assumes you’re just drinking standard rum and coke.
This one’s a bit of a wildcard, but if you’re in the mood for a winter treat how about a melty hot chocolate drink spiked with dark rum? Just be sure to tell your guests that it’s a boozy hot choc.
This cosy drink sipped by a fire is totally worth it to get you feeling warm and relaxed. You can do this the easy way with hot chocolate powder, milk and rum, or you can go homemade and melt proper chocolate into milk and rum in a saucepan. Delish!
Obviously, there’s still a world of combinations out there for which mixers to combine with different spirits, but these are just a few essentials using ingredients that you might already have in the cupboard. Let us know how you get on and which are your favourites!
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