Welcome back for another wondrous takedown of the commercial drink mixers industry. As I proceed along this search, I am ever more convinced that the entire idea of bottled mixers is an attempt to sell people something they don’t need by encouraging the idea that cocktails are hard.
This is chemistry at the most basic level, as simple as adding cream to coffee or lemon to tea.
If you look back at my MYO of Margarita mix you’ll find that even the most basic drinks seem to get clouded over with a one-bottle solution and then endlessly adulterated with cheap ingredients as the race to the bottom of the price table continues.
I’m sure that in the days of Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic when complicated Tiki drinks using multiple exotic and difficult to find ingredients were popular it was perfectly normal to buy a mix for a Mai Tai or a pina Colada. Where I begin to break down is when classic cocktails seem to need this imaginary leg up, everything from the Mojito, Old Fashioned, Cosmopolitan, and even the Whiskey Sour seems to get shoved into a bottle for the no-brainer cocktail. If the flavors involved were real instead of being just corn syrup and additives I would buy them in a heartbeat but fresh juices don’t keep well and many of these mixers are non-alcoholic so they are replicating the flavors of triple sec without the alcohol which means your cocktail is now leaning heavily on your main spirit.
Consider the Cosmo, that most beloved of Sex and the City girls everywhere:
1.5 oz Vodka
0.5 oz Cointreau (Triple Sec)
1/8th oz Lime Juice
1.5 oz Cranberry Juice
Twist of Lime Zest
Drop the Cranberry and swap the vodka for tequila and we’re right back in margarita territory.
I can’t imagine it’s hard to find good cranberry juice. There are literally dozens of brands both excellent and mediocre on the market. The issue could be that we are running up against our old enemy the cheapskate. When people get sticker shock on a 350ml bottle of Cointreau they might opt for a cheap bottled alternative, but even some of the low end triple sec’s are fine in small amounts like we’re using here.
Unlike the margarita, I can’t recommend mixing up a bunch of this in advance. There’s simply not enough to this that isn’t going to require some form of more precise measurement. If you wanted to do up an entire pitcher all at once the following would get you about 16 servings.
1 – 750ml bottle of vodka
25 oz cranberry juice
8 oz Triple Sec
1 medium sized Lime
Mixing becomes something of a problem but if you add enough ice and stir vigorously for about 2 minutes you’ll get the right temp and dilution.