Blenders are the non-alcoholic ingredients that make up the base of your drink. The word blender may conjure up images of flowery bottles with artificial ingredients, but things have changed and the market is full of exciting new options.
Companies openly disclose what’s in your bottle, and it’s not just a bunch of artificial flavors, says Kelly Thorne, beverage manager at Hugh Acheson’s restaurant. The desire to make a blender with real ingredients led Jenny Ripps to brew owl beer. Using her experience as a tea sommelier to develop programs for restaurants like Momofuku and Scarpetta in New York, Ripps and her business partner Maria Littlefield manufacture tea blenders.
Often the blends are so juicy that they are remixed with the alcohol, rather than letting the alcohol shine and blend with the flavor, Ripps explains.
When I think of mixed drinks, I think of soda because I’m a purist at heart, says Tiffany Barrier, an Atlanta bartender and instructor. He rejects most pre-packaged mixers for fresh fruit, but can’t resist tonic water or lemonade (he’s a sucker for pineapple jarritos).
Whether you want to try a cocktail, are looking for a non-carbonated drink or just want to do something different, these eight drink mixers have everything you need.
Soda ash and bitter lime
Hella took the two main ingredients, bitters and soda, and poured them into a light drinking bowl. These refreshing drinks, based on sparkling water, Gentian tincture and various aromatic bitters, are delicious pure or with alcohol. There are five flavors, including grapefruit, ginger turmeric, lemon-lime and others.
It’s crisp and tart and does equally well in a rocks glass with a large ice cube or mixed with tequila.
Bitter and soft drinks from Hella Cocktails Co.
Jack Rudy Cocktail Co.
Charleston-based Jack Rudy Cocktail Company makes a variety of mixers. But their tonic syrup is a favorite of Thorn and Ripps.
This quinine concentrate is not a ready-made blender, it still needs to be filtered with sparkling water, but it is delicious and keeps well. The tonic syrup is also useful if you want to turn a party into a cocktail. You can flavor your drink with tonic beforehand, then add sparkling water when you’re ready to serve.
18.21 Bitterness is perhaps the best known, but shrubs should not be overlooked. The shrub is a spicy syrup that combines sugar, vinegar and fruit. They’re not hard to make, but 18.21 makes a particularly spicy orange-ginger shrub that’s easy to use.
A small amount is enough and they can be kept in the fridge for a long time (just check the expiry date). Orange and ginger blood is refreshing when infused with sparkling water. Blood orange and ginger is the ideal accompaniment to entrees with the same flavor, but works equally well as a spritzer or poured alone with sparkling water.
If you’re trying to limit your alcohol consumption, but do enjoy an aperitif, you’re in luck. The Casamara Club makes four soft drinks that resemble an aperitif. While soda is only excellent in a glass of wine, Thorne thinks Sera’s fruity bitterness would go well with gin or vodka.
There are many good Q mixers, but their ginger ale is the star. It’s made with agave nectar, which complements the spicy ginger, and the bubbles aren’t too stiff. There are also notes of coriander, cardamom and orange peel.
Spindaft produces sparkling water flavored with real fruit. Although it contains fruit juice, it’s not a total sugar bomb (only 3 grams with pineapple flavor, for example), which makes it Barriere’s first choice. She especially likes their grapefruit flavor because it’s a perfect riff on Paloma paired with tequila.
Ranges in $
Owl’s Brew blenders are made from tea and are a fun way to mix up your drinking habits. Strawberry Manhattan is one of their signature drinks, with an ingredient list that includes Darjeeling tea, hibiscus, sugar and concentrated strawberry juice. Just add whiskey or Gnista, a non-alcoholic substitute, and you’re done.
Can you consider yourself a bartender at home if you don’t have lemonade on hand? It’s a key ingredient in cocktails, and if you get your hands on a good one, you can enjoy it on its own (with a few citrus fruits).
Fever Tree makes several different kinds of soda, but Thorne loves their lemonade.
It’s very clean and has a very good bubble texture, she says.
Published on 4. March 2021.
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