This week’s article is about craft mixers, and sponsored by a craft mixer company we really like – Q Drinks.

It’s made with quality ingredients and just the right carbonation level. I highly recommend it if you’re considering craft mixers at your bar.

Thanks again to Q Drinks for supporting A Bar Above!

It’s a familiar feeling: a family occasion or friend’s party is coming up and your phone buzzes. It’s a text from the organizer, and it’s the same one you always seem to get before an upcoming gathering…
Another party, another occasion where you’re expected to bartend all night – and (of course) everyone wants something complicated because you’re a “fancy” bartender.

Not This Time

You don’t have to work as a bartender all night, and you don’t have to resort to one giant punch cocktail either (though I do love me a good punch!) Better yet, you can take this opportunity to introduce your friends and family to craft cocktails that they can easily make themselves (yes – without your assistance at all.)

Enter: Craft Mixers

I’m pretty sure your uncle Bob can figure out how to make a Campari Soda. And Jennie’s friend from work knows how to make a Gin and Tonic. And pretty much everyone can figure out a Rum and Coke.

So what’s the trick? Simple: Craft mixers.

Picking up a higher quality mixer makes the drink taste way better without requiring any bartending skills at all. Simply provide a few craft mixers with a corresponding bottle of spirit and you’re done. Cocktails are served.

Want it one step simpler? Use measuring pourspouts on the spirits. Your friends will be “mixing” your own drinks (and probably enjoying it) while you get to enjoy the party for a change.

Here’s your cocktail menu:

Bring your 1.5oz measured pourspout and a case of craft mixers like Q Drinks, and you’re in business.

The instructions for all of the following drinks are exactly the same:

  • Using the pourspout, add one “pour” of the specified spirit to a Collins or highball glass.
  • Add ice to the glass.
  • Fill the rest of the glass with the specified mixer.
  • Delicious!

With a handful of spirits and a handful of craft mixers, you can “serve” a wide variety of drinks.

 Better yet, your guests can go home with the confidence they can make them again.

If you want to take it just one step further, set out a bowl with fun garnishes – pre-cut lemon and lime wedges are easy and great, or you can get even more creative with other options like twists of lime and lemon peels, orange and cucumber slices, or candied ginger cubes.

Cocktails are Served:

  • Rum and Kola: Add white rum to a craft kola mixer (Garnish: Lemon wheel)
  • Whiskey Kola: Add whiskey (or I prefer Bourbon) to a craft kola mixer
  • Vodka Soda: Add vodka to craft soda water (Garnish: Lemon or lime wedge)
  • Campari Soda: Add Campari to craft soda water
  • The Paloma: Add blanco tequila to a craft grapefruit mixer (Garnish with lemon wedge or, ideally, grapefruit)
  • Dark & Stormy: Add Gosling’s dark rum to a craft ginger beer (Garnish: Lime wedge)
  • Moscow Mule: Add vodka to a craft ginger beer (Garnish: Lime wedge)
  • Gin & Tonic: Add gin (I prefer a London Dry style) to a craft Tonic (Garnish: lime wedge)

Fancy Taste without Fancy Bartending

The trick about these cocktails is simple: instead of being the low quality two-part cocktails you enjoyed in red cups in college, they actually taste like craft cocktails. The secret is in the mixer – which, don’t forget, makes up the vast majority of the drink.

When you’re using mixers that have been crafted with real ingredients, carefully selected aromatics and botanicals and finished off with the perfect carbonation levels – it’s not so different from a craft cocktail at all.

Often crafted cocktails include complicated (and delicious) homemade syrups, bitters, tinctures and shrubs – which are made in very similar ways. The only difference is that you (the bartender) didn’t have to put all of that work in yourself.

Julia Tunstall

Julia Tunstall is the co-founder of A Bar Above and Chief Cocktail Taster. She's in charge of keeping things running smoothly around here, but you'll also find her stopping by on the Mixology Talk Podcast or hanging around the Craft Cocktail Club.