The 2022 Guide to Drink Mixers

Blog written by Mixology & Craft.

There’s a weird social stigma regarding adults regarding drink mixers. For some reason, a lot of people seem to think that the second you exit college, alcohol suddenly changes flavor and you can drink it straight like some kind of weathered bounty hunter. Wrong.

Most people (despite what they say) don’t really like the taste of alcohol (and if you’re not one of those people, that’s awesome. You’re truly a champion. Wow. Go away though, because this article is not for you). So, why is there such a stigma around mixed drinks for adults, then? What’s the big deal about wanting a drink to not taste like booty? 

We here at Mixology & Craft believe that it’s time to destroy that weird branch of toxic masculinity and remove the stigma from mixed drinks and fun cocktails for good. They’re for everyone, and should be enjoyed by everyone. That’s why we’re using this blog to educate you on everything there is to know about how to mix drink mixers (and what tools to use, of course), basic bar drinks and cocktails, and the best pairings for each. By the time we’re finished here, you’ll know everything you need to know about how to make alcohol tolerable.

Let’s start with the basics of the basics: 

How Do You Mix a Drink?

Gotta start somewhere. 

The art of mixing a cocktail is not all-encompassing, unfortunately - the reality is that it depends on the drink you’re making. Some drinks (such as a Gin & Tonic) are as easy as pouring 2 liquids in a glass, while other cocktails (such as the completely deranged dessert cocktail The 8-Layer Pousse-Café) require specific tools, a steady hand, and several years of experience. 

While we can give you neither a steady hand nor several years of experience, we can 100% give you the specific tools you need (as well as how to use them) to create the perfect mixed drinks, every time:

What Are the Most Vital Tools in Bartending Equipment?

Even some of the most basic drink mixers and beginner cocktails need equipment if you want them to be any good. But hey, this works out great, because we here at Mixology & Craft have all sorts of equipment to make your Bloody Mary’s and 8-Layer Pousse-Café’s not suck!

Let’s start with what I feel is the most important tool…

1. Cocktail Shaker

This is the tool that separates civilized society from cavemen. A cocktail shaker is the only thing preventing you from mixing your cocktails with your finger like a pathetic college freshmen in a dark, abysmal dorm room. These fun little tools are essential for any basic bar drinks, especially those that involve more than 2 ingredients. By thoroughly mixing your ingredients in a closed container, cocktail shakers completely saturate your beverage and make it taste, like, a million times better.

We’ve got a great cocktail shaker set right here to get you started - it’s got not just a cocktail shaker, but a stand, a bottle opener, a mixing spoon, and even cocktail recipe cards so you don’t have to keep skimming through these blogs on how to make cocktails. With this set, you’ll go from schmo to pro in mere minutes. 

2. Drink Strainer

An essential accessory addition to your cocktail strainer, drink strainers are great for if you want something with the essence of a fruit or herbs but don’t want to accidentally choke on said fruit and herbs. They’re great for mixed drinks like martinis, cosmos, and more!

All of our bartender kits come with one, so check ‘em out! 

3. Bottle Opener

You may already have this. Most people do. These are great if you like beer or things that come in a bottle with a lid you can’t open with your weak human hands. (Find them in our bartender kits as well)

4. Measuring Tool (Jigger)

An unpleasant name, but a very useful tool. Jiggers are an essential part of any bartender kit, and ensure you can take the guesswork out of mixing a cocktail by giving you precise measurements! No more guesstimating how much alcohol should be in your drink and waking up on the roof of a Hobby Lobby. 

5. A Small Grater 

Nothing makes you feel more like a wizard than grating stuff into a cup like it’s some kind of ritualistic forest potion. Whether you’re zesting a lemon, grating some ginger, or doing some other cool thing, graters are a must-have in any drink mixer’s tool belt.

6. Whiskey Glasses (and Stones)

A long time ago, someone decided that certain alcohols needed to be enjoyed in certain glasses. Whiskey is no exception to this rule! Whiskey glasses are an absolute must have not just for whiskey, but for mixed drinks as well! Some cocktails (such as an Old Fashioned) are almost always in a whiskey glass, so it’s good to have them around. 

Try this whiskey glass set - it’s suave, sophisticated, and just a little bit sexy. Plus, it comes with whiskey stones, which act like ice without diluting the whiskey. 

7. A Muddler

Having one of these will take your mixology game from 1 to 1 million. They’re mad easy to use, and ideal for chic beginner cocktails like Mojitos and Mint Juleps! Plus, it satiates man’s innate desire to smoosh things. 

Those are the basic tools you’ll need to make 85-90% of all basic bar drinks. BUT, if you’re looking for all that and more, this full cocktail mixers set is exactly what you need. It’s got tongs, a muddler, a strainer, a shaker, spouts, and all sorts of other neat things!

Mixers 101: The Basics

We’ve got the tools down, so it’s time to get into the ingredients! We’ve got all information regarding drink mixers, basic cocktails, and more - so lean in and listen close: 

What is the Most Popular Mixer for Alcohol? 

There are over 7 billion of us on this doomed planet, but we all seem to be able to agree on one thing: that the most popular drink mixer is, in fact, citrus-flavored sodas. They add notes of both sweet and sour to any drink, and go with (almost) any kind of alcohol. They’re light, refreshing, and fun, so make sure to have some around for quick and easy cocktail making.

If you’re not a fan of citrus-flavored drink mixer, try tonic, club soda, or ginger beer. If you’re trying to take the flavor guesswork out, get some pre-made cocktail mixers (such as bloody mary mix, margarita mix, watermelon syrup, or a sweet cocktail syrup). 

What are ‘Modifiers’ in Cocktails? 

This can’t be answered without getting into all the parts of mixed drinks. Cocktails are popular enough to have been been turned into into a science of sorts - and we’re gonna get into it! 

To start, cocktails can be broken down into 3 categories: the base, the modifier, and the garnish. 

  • The base is the essential part of mixing a cocktail. It’s usually the alcohol or spirit you’re working with and basing your flavor profile on. 
  • The modifier is the ingredient(s) (or drink mixer) added to give your drink a specific flavor or smoothness. In short, the modifier adds the zazz that takes the edge off the liquor. 
  • The garnish is often an ingredient that changes the color or flavor. Bitters, food coloring, grenadine, or simple syrups can all be considered garnishes! 

What are the 6 Basic Cocktails?

Many cocktails come from 6 basic cocktails that have have the base, modifier, and garnish that can be linked to the creation of countless different cocktails and mixed drinks. Each of these 6 cocktails are a must-know in order to understand most other cocktails: 

Know these cocktails thoroughly and you’ll know almost every beginner cocktail out there. For more info, check out this incredibly helpful graph from VinePair that breaks it down a little more thoroughly. 

Mixers 102: Best Mixing Pairs

The final key to the drink mixer puzzle is knowing what to pair said drink mixers with! Here’s a list of alcohol pairings that will help you understand beginner cocktails a little better: 

What Alcohol Goes Well With What Soda? 

Let’s break this down by alcohol type for better readability: 

  • Whiskey goes best with…
    • Sprite
    • Mountain Dew
    • Ginger Ale
    • Coca Cola
    • Lemonade
    • Dr. Pepper
  • Vodka goes best with…
    • Tonic water
    • Ginger Ale
    • Soda water
    • Coca Cola
    • Root Beer
  • Rum goes best with…
    • Coca Cola
    • Fruity sodas
  • Tequila goes best with… 
    • Citrus-flavored sodas
    • Club soda

What Alcohol Goes Best with What Juice?

  • Whiskey goes best with…
    • Grape juice
    • Apple juice
    • Orange juice
    • Mango Juice
    • Pineapple Juice
  • Vodka goes best with…
    • Orange juice
    • Lemonade
    • Cranberry Juice
    • Grapefruit Juice
    • Pineapple Juice
  • Rum goes best with…
    • Lemon juice
    • Lime juice
  • Tequila goes best with…
    • Pineapple juice

Final Thoughts About Drink Mixers

There you have it! All the drink mixer knowledge you’ll need to know to thrive in the world of mixology. If you want to learn even more about the basics of mixing a cocktail, some choice recipes, or want to browse some amazing bar tools, check out our website!


Contributing Writer: Aurora Detor