When it comes to cocktail mixers, I’m a big believer in matching quality with quality. What I mean is, I wouldn’t dare disrespect a high-end, ultra premium gin with some shitty tonic water out of a gun… Instead, I’d search for an artisan or similarly premium tonic water that compliments and highlights whatever is already going on in the gin’s botanical recipe. for example, our Sunday Gin is very citrussy and bright, and lighter on the juniper. Instead of drowning it with a high sugar, quinine-heavy base level tonic water, we pair it with a gorgeous low sugar grapefruit tonic water to bring out that juiciness (see photo below!). The low quinine level and subtle sweetness lets the floral and feminine notes of the gin shine, all while putting an exclamation point on those lovely citrus top notes we’re going for. Similarly, you wouldn’t want to take a nuanced, delicate spirit and overpower it with a sharp, sweet ginger beer or too sweet soda. The mixer should always compliment and amplify the spirit, and most importantly, be of comparable quality. Below are the thoughtfully-crafted mixers I reach for when serving my favorite craft spirits!
East Imperial… East Imperial is by far and away my favorite brand of top-quality mixers. They have a range of products from soda water to ginger beer and ginger ale (shown above), plus four different styles of tonic water. FOUR! If you haven’t seen East Imperial around before, it’s because they’re still fairly new to the US. They’re kind of like the Fever Tree of the southern hemisphere, seeing as the company hails from New Zealand, but the quality and flavor is so much better. To get your hands on some, you can order from their website here, or source through Young’s Market here in California.
Topo Chico… chances are you’ve heard of this cult favorite sparkling mineral water before. It comes from Monterrey, Mexico and I can tell you with 100% certainty, it’s worth the hype and then some! What makes it so good? Two things: bubbles and salt content. The effervescence is like no other sparkling beverage you’ll ever have. The carbonation is just so poppy and satisfying, and a high mineral content makes it both cleansing and thirst-quenching at the same time. It’s my favorite thing to pair with low ABV spirits for a spritz-like tipple.
Lacroix… I have to include Lacroix water here because a.the wealth of flavor options and b. expert subtlety of said flavors. They’re spritzy and refreshing and lend juuuusssst the right amount of added flavor. If you haven’t experimented with Lacroix cocktails, start with my three two-ingredient favorites here!
Lagunitas Hop Water… A bit of a wild card but oh so interesting! Like a zero-ABV IPA, Hop-flavored Sparking water adds dryness and bitterness without overwhelming a spirit. Try splashing some into a Greyhound or pairing with your favorite blanco tequila.
Mead… this one might surprise you but I love mead paired with spirits in cocktails. A vodka + mead + sparkling water spritz is such an underrated delight and seeing as there are so many styles and varieties of mead, the options are endless for coming up with creative new ideas! To test the waters, try a 1 oz. mead float on top of your next margarita!
Nostrum Shrubs… shrubs have been natural partners to spirits for ages, and this is one of my favorite brands. I love to take the kumquat + kaffir lime leaf + lemongrass shrub and pair it with our Y&Y Summer Citrus Vodka and Topo Chico! Divine!