Smart Living

Why your mixer matters

The secret to a really good cocktail? It's not all about the alcohol, says our Managing Editor

Words by
Johanna Derry

Nowadays we’re all getting savvier about spirits – no more plain old gin and tonic or whisky gingers for us. We’re choosier about what we’re drinking – make mine a Tanqueray 10, and make sure it’s served in the right glass. But are we so picky when it comes to our mixers?

According to trends forecasters Mintel, sales of tonic water are on the rise, matching our ever growing appetite for gin which the Wine And Spirit Association reported broke the £1billion mark in terms of sales last year.

For the past 12 years, Fever-Tree has been the leading disrupter in this market, showing us that what goes with our booze matters as much as the booze itself. After launching a range of tonics designed to highlight the different flavour profiles of different gins (juniper-forward, citrus-y, herbal), they’ve turned their attention to the dark side, mixers for rum and whisky cocktails. ‘Globally premium spirits including whiskeys, rums and brandies are the most consumed,’ explains Fever-Tree founder Tim Warrillow, ‘making up 60 per cent of the total premium consumption compared to gin at just six per cent.’

So of course, if you want a decent tonic with your gin, you’ll want a decent mixer with your darker spirits too. Standard ginger beer will simply not do any longer, and to prove it, Fever-Tree has created a smoky variant and an orange-y version. Both of which have already been embraced by some of the capital’s best bars – Swift, SuperLyan and Black Rock among them.

Warrilow goes on: ‘As with all products in our range, the latest drinks are made using the highest quality all-natural ingredients and perfectly complement the flavour profiles of dark spirits.’

They’re not the only ones. London Essence Co. are another upstart muscling in on the mixer circuit. Breathing new life into a brand that’s existed since 1896, alongside a classic London tonic, they’ve also made a Grapefruit and Rosemary tonic, a Bitter Orange and Elderflower tonic, and a London Ginger Ale.

Luscombe Drinks – perhaps better known for juices and soft drinks – are also advancing into this scene adding three tonic waters and a ginger beer into their existing ‘posh fizzy pop’ collection. In fact, so good are these new mixers, people are ditching the alcohol altogether to drink them straight. ‘We’re seeing an increase in the number of consumers ordering tonic water instead of draught soft drinks,’ says Gabriel David, Luscombe Drinks founder.

It’s a trend that Seedlip has also taken full advantage of, creating what it describes as non-alcoholic spirits, water distilled botanical drinks to solve the dilemma of ‘what to drink when you’re not drinking.’

And just so you know we’re serious, the lovely people at Fever-Tree have put together a few recipes for you to try, you can find them at our favourite watering holes, or get your hands on some Fever-Tree Dark Spirits and mix them at home. They’re all a long serve over ice, nice and easy, so there’s no excuse not to try one.

The Red Fort

Mixers, Fever Tree Dark Spirits, The Jackal magazine

Spiced Orange Ginger Ale, Swift Jamaican Rum Blend, fresh mint and an orange twist

The Jessica Rabbit

Mixers, Fever Tree ginger ale, The Jackal magazine

25ml Martini Extra Dry, 10ml Aperol, a bar spoon of Arbeg whisky, 50ml of Fever-Tree smoky ginger ale, pink grapefruit and cracked black pepper to garnish

The Independence Daisy

Why your cocktail mixer matters, The Jackal magazine

VSOP Calvados, Tumeric tincture, picon, lemon and Spiced Orange Ginger Ale