While we’ve been stuck at home for the last year, there’s never been a better time to drink at home. After all, home is the only place we can drink — hopefully not for much longer as vaccinations continue to roll out. But just because we aren’t at our favorite restaurant or neighborhood bar, doesn’t mean we can’t replicate the experience. So how do you set up your own home bar (if you haven’t already)?
The first step is to decide on your spirits — we think the best is to have a bottle of the basic spirits like vodka, gin, rum, and tequila. But you can stock as many or as few as you like, it’s your home bar after all. When it comes to mixers, it’s easy to get confused as to what you really need and what are nice-to-haves. We think the important thing to remember is to focus on quality over quantity: stocking your home bar shouldn’t be about having the most expensive products, but having a few quality ones that you truly enjoy. The process should be fun, not bank-breaking.
Ready to take that extra step to creating your own speakeasy right in your living room? Continue reading for our team’s favorite mixers including juices and carbonated mixers plus some that you can DIY. The best part is that these are all healthier than your usual store-bought and ready-made mixers.
When it comes to mixers, there are a few key categories to consider stocking up on: juices, carbonated mixers, and flavored sodas. To really get the most bang for your buck, our team has picked out mixers that aren’t only work great in cocktails but also work well on their own.
Juice is one of the most versatile mixers out there. You can use it on its own with the liquor of your choice to create an easy but tasty drink. Think the classic Gin and Juice, a Daiquiri, or a Sidecar. All you really need is good quality lime juice and the appropriate spirit. Our team recommends the Le Fruit Lime Juice — 100% lime juice with no added sugar. It’ll really make your cocktails shine without compromising on quality. We think this is also great when making Margaritas.
If you’re looking for a more tropical flavor, the Le Fruit Tropical Juice is a great option. Made from a blend of mango, pineapple, passion fruit, and cherry our team loves using this when making Sangria as it adds just the right amount of sweetness.
Carbonated drinks are another popular mixer when you’re looking for some fizz. The most common is club soda — a great neutralizer for many spirits and a key ingredient in Highballs. You can use it with any liquor to create your own unique bubbly concoction, simply add in some lime juice to create a Tom Collins or Mojito. For an everyday option, our team recommends the Stanford Shaw Sparkling Water 6 pack or the 24 pack when you know you’re going to be making a few drinks. If you’re simply looking for something to drink on its own, the San Pellegrino Sparkling Water is a no-fail classic.
Flavored sodas are another great mixer that not only add some fizz but add extra flavor to your drinks. As a brand our team loves Bundaberg. They offer an array of flavors that range from sweet to sour to bitter so no matter what your tastes, you can find something you’ll like. A fun hack if you’re a fan of Margaritas: create your base mix and top off with any Bundaberg soda for your own uniquely flavored Margarita. Our team recommends the Blood Orange, Pink Grapefruit, Lemon Lime, or Peach.
The San Pellegrino flavored sodas have also been a favorite. From a simple Screwdriver recipe (vodka and San Pellegrino Aranciata) to a refreshing drink, these have been a staple. Plus, they’re a healthier alternative to your traditional sodas.
If you prefer some spice to your drinks or are partial to a good Moscow Mule, this is the mixer for you. Our team’s favorite? The Stanford Shaw Fresh Ginger Ale. It’s home-brewed in small batches and has a nicely balanced ginger kick with a hint of citrus to create a truly delightful fizzy drink.
If you’re purely looking for a non-alcoholic drink to enjoy, a recent favorite of our team is Kombucha by Remedy. We love this because of the variety in flavors. Plus, kombucha comes with its own health benefits like improved digestion and detoxifying. This is one that we like drinking on its own more than anything but you could also craft some unique cocktails. One that catches our attention is a Moscow Mule but with kombucha: combine Remedy Ginger and Lemon Kombucha, vodka, lime juice, simple syrup, and pour into a glass with ice to enjoy.
There are some other essential mixers like simple syrup, grenadine, and sours. Typically used to either add flavor or add color to your drink, many of these are available ready-made in stores. But they’re often packed with sugar and other additives. So if you’re looking for a healthier and cheaper option you can easily make these at home.
This is used in cocktails to add some sweetness without adding too much extra flavor, and it’s one of the easiest to make at home. Using a 1:1 ratio of sugar and water, heat the two together in a saucepan so the sugar fully dissolves. Once fully combined, remove it from heat and transfer to a container to cool. We recommend using it right away but it should store in your fridge for about 3 weeks in a sealed container.
As the name suggests, sours add that sour element to cocktails. All you need to do is make your simple syrup as above then add in lemon juice and lime juice while the syrup is cooling. You can customize your ratios of lemon juice and lime juice to your tastes but we recommend a ratio of 1:2. In other words, if you add in 1 cup of lemon juice, add in ½ cup of lime juice.
Another popular mixer is grenadine. Red in color and sweet and tart in flavor, grenadine is often used to add red or pink coloring to drinks. There are a few different recipes on how to make grenadine that often call for orange flower water. However, you can also make grenadine from a simple 1:1 combination of sugar and pomegranate juice. Simple heat the two in a saucepan until the sugar is fully dissolved then let cool. This should last about 1 month in the fridge in a sealed container.