While it’s important to use high-quality spirits in your drinks, the fact remains: Your cocktail is only as good as your mixer. You don’t want to stifle your G&T with cloying tonic or mask your Moscow Mule with subpar ginger beer. Fortunately, there are now dozens of craft mixers at your disposal, so you can make the most of your ingredients. These are eight great American-made mixers to try now.
Addition has cornered the market on what’s often been missing from cocktail mixers: a savory component. Similar to bitters, these “cocktail spices” come in an array of flavors. You can choose from options including allspice, cardamom, cumin, Szechuan pepper, turmeric and more, so you won’t soon get bored. Another unique creation from this Seattle-based company is its beer sauce ($14), used to add heat and spice to your favorite suds. Available in Original, Smoky and Extra Spicy, each is made by hand using fresh chili peppers.
If there’s such a thing as a premium mixer, Fever-Tree is it. The handsome packaging contains quality ingredients, without preservatives or added coloring, resulting in mixers that deserve to be drunk on their own. They’re also a study in global sourcing: The tonic water is made with quinine from the Congo, the ginger is sourced from the Ivory Coast and Southwest India, and the thyme and rosemary come from the Mediterranean.
Named for the two founders’ great grandfathers, Jack Rudy is a family-run company based in Charleston, South Carolina and Lexington, Kentucky. That American lineage is reflected in the products, like the hand-crafted grenadine (try it in a classic like the El Presidente), which is made with pomegranate juice from a small family farm in Madera, California, and the elderflower tonic, which is made with wild elderberry grown in Kentucky. The company’s mixers also include a small-batch tonic, sweet tea syrup, olive brine and Margarita mix.
Using fresh botanicals, organic agave nectar and South Asian herbs, Liber & Co.’s Spiced Tonic Syrup brings the heat as any good Texas-made mixer should. The batch is made by the three friends who started the company and still have hands in the production process. They make the tonic mixer along with a cold-pressed Texas Grapefruit Shrub—which livens up Gin & Tonics—and Pineapple Gum Syrup, which works wonders in a Pisco Punch.
5. Owl’s Brew ($13/16-ounce bottle)
Founded by a pair of tea experts, Owl’s Brew is billed as the first tea ever crafted for cocktails. Since its inception, the company has been shaking up the cocktail market with its handcrafted, ready-to-pour mixers. Flavors include Citrus Sweet Tea, Watermelon Margarita and Chai Piña Colada, and each label sports a suggestion for making cocktails. In the case of the Citrus Sweet Tea, try two parts mixer paired with one part vodka, and you’ll get a drink that begs for summer evenings on the porch. For a flavorful non-alcoholic option, Owl’s Brew mixers can also be combined with seltzer.
Handcrafted in Vermont, the recipes for these mixers date back generations and work well in classic drinks like the Bloody Mary, Dirty Martini and Margarita. If you want good baseline ingredients that can be added to a variety of cocktails, try the brand’s simple syrup and grenadine.
Ripe “bar juices” are handmade by bartenders for bartenders. After seeing a lack of fresh juices for cocktail mixers, the company’s founders decided to make their own, and a business was born. Based in Connecticut, Ripe forgoes corn syrup and preservatives, instead opting for pure ingredients that are cold-pressed and left unprocessed. The juices are versatile, designed to be used in punches, Mojitos and Cosmos, as well cocktails that call for lemon sour and cranberry.
Stirrings makes it easy for at-home drinkers to step up their cocktail game. The company’s gourmet mixers are widely distributed and come in many varieties, from Piña Colada to Bloody Mary to Margarita. Only ice and booze are required to make bar-quality drinks. While some flavors are more basic and pared-down, it’s not everyday that one whips up a Watermelon Martini or Peach Bellini, which is where these pre-made concoctions really come in handy. Stirrings also offers a line of affordable bar basics, like simple syrup and bitters.