Story by Jono Carr.
From growing up with cans of spirit mixers featuring prominently in the bottle-o to now striving to make the best versions of the humble beverage in venues, it’s safe to say spirit mixers have always played a part in our adult beverage world.
Well, RTDs aren’t going anywhere and alongside alcoholic seltzers taking a large chunk of the market (Dan Murphy’s searches for them have risen 57% on last year) I don’t see them riding off into any sunset yet. Unless they are part of some kind of sunset celebrations. Highballs have also had a huge blast from just about every Whisk(e)y brand so now, in-venue they are even more understood and ordered.
“I love a Jamo and soda. It lets me enjoy the Whiskey and feel like I’m staying hydrated at the same time,” Vinnie Chase of The Gidley tells us. “Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge Whisk(e)y neat fan but on an Aussie 30 degree day, you can bet I am going to be drinking something to help me keep fresh in the sun.”
“Jacinta Cumberland of Rockpool Bar and Grill says that while she loves a certain classic London Dry G&T, more and more guests are being coaxed towards more worldly gins, on recommendation, of course, some are even brand calling their favourite mixers at the bar.”
The vodka, lime and soda and G&T still play a huge part in this market, though bartenders have been reaching a little further with spirit mixer combos, thanks largely to the range of flavoured sodas now available to them. Things like Strangeloves’ Watermelon Tonic and Fever-Tree’s new Light Wild Raspberry Tonic Water with a hint of Rhubarb spring to mind as good examples of new easy ways to add that flavour to our drinks.
Fever Tree’s ambassador Trish Brew suggests “Everyone knows by now that if 3/4 of your drink is the mixer it’s important to use something that tastes great! When you add in consumers opting for low and no alcohol alternatives, where you really don’t have much to hide behind, your mixer range should be well thought through”.
Jacinta Cumberland of Rockpool Bar and Grill says that while she loves a certain classic London Dry G&T, more and more guests are being coaxed towards more worldly gins, on recommendation, of course, some are even brand calling their favourite mixers at the bar.
In-venue I have started seeing Tequila sodas being ordered out of lockdown, which could be reflective of the categories rise to prominence, or maybe Margaritas are more expensive in venues than consumers making them at home. Either way, I am a fan, tequila is great. If you see me ordering a tall, double bourbon and cola you know I am settling in for a good time.
The same goes for vermouth or sherry and tonic for a low ABV option as they slowly change from being known as Nana’s choice to a proper ‘If you know, you know’ option. It’s been great to see this evolution and watch this category establish its deserved place in our guest’s minds.
This summer is all about full-flavoured drinks that are quick and easy to make, due to the universal lack of staff and revenge drinking from our time tucked away. Hence, simple plus delicious drinks equals more monies in the till.
Trish says: “For me, it’s all about the Paloma. So simple and so delicious! Choose your favourite blanco tequila, build over ice in a highball glass and top with Fever-Tree Grapefruit soda, salt rim and/or grapefruit wedge to garnish. Boom”.
So what’s next for our spirit mixers, folks? Maybe calvados will get a turn soon? Maybe not. But if guests are open to change then we have a great opportunity to send them down a new path of spirit mixers without forking out a bunch while doing so. High-end tonics and a myriad of fancy new flavours just add to our repertoire and options.
The Paloma 60ml reposado tequila 15ml fresh lime (to taste) 120ml Fever Tree Pink Grapefruit Soda Build in a hi-ball over ice. Garnish with pink grapefruit slice. Salt rim optional.