Food: 12 Types Of Mixers And What Spirits They Pair Best With

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When the craving for a boozy beverage hits after a long day, you may not always have the liquor, mixers, and other ingredients you need to make your cocktail of choice at a moment's notice. Soda water and Coca-Cola are staple mixers for various spirits, but they can get old and boring after awhile. Sure, there are plenty of spirits and other miscellaneous mixers around the house to work with, your brain just hasn't figured out the best pairing yet. Thankfully, it just takes a little creativity and a lot of trial and error to figure out what can work. But at the moment, you might find yourself staring at your home bar while drawing a massive blank.

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various cocktails lined up on bar © Alexander Raths/Shutterstock various cocktails lined up on bar

If this scenario sounds like something you go through on a regular basis, we're here to help. We decided to pick 12 common household mixer drinks that make great partners with different kinds of booze. Mashed already wrote a guide for what sodas to mix with different kinds of liquor, so this list will include all of the other random liquids in your fridge. Some of these drinks are far from the average order you might overhear at a bar, but the flavor combinations can work in surprisingly tasty ways.

Iced Tea And Bourbon

Bourboned iced tea cocktail © Sunny Forest/Shutterstock Bourboned iced tea cocktail

One of the more predictable recommendations on the list is the classic combination of bourbon and iced tea. Folks with roots in the southern parts of the U.S. may roll their eyes at us even making this suggestion — spiked sweet tea is arguably the unofficially official drink of the South. It's a combination you can get fancy with by using flavored teas, mixing in fruit, or garnishing with herbs for a more well-rounded flavor, but the basic pairing is also satisfying on its own.

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Bulleit Bourbon has a recipe that keeps it simple — mix iced tea and a little Bulleit in a tall Collins glass and call it a day. The brand recommends pairing this refreshing cocktail with a burger, which channels the backyard barbecue vibes that radiate from this drink. Many bourbon punch cocktail recipes also featured iced tea in the mix, so you can also doctor it up if you want to hide the bourbon burn a little bit better. One Reddit user also recommends mixing Evan Williams Bottled-in-Bond with a little sweet tea, claiming it almost tastes like a bootlegged old-fashioned. Other bottles that mix well with iced tea include Legent Bourbon or Maverick Straight Bourbon Whiskey, both of which have sweet notes that pair well with herbal tea.

Tomato Juice And Mexican Beer

Michelada tomato juice mexican beer © Fabian Montano Hernandez/Shutterstock Michelada tomato juice mexican beer

The idea of mixing tomato juice and beer might be gag-inducing to a novice drinker or a picky eater who isn't a fan of the fruit that's always mistaken for a vegetable. However, a michelada is a Mexican cocktail featuring light beer, lime juice, salt, hot sauce, and sometimes tomato juice depending on the recipe that begs to differ. The drink is believed to be a hangover cure, and the ingredients vary based on the region of Mexico the recipe originates from. Some recipes use Clamato, which is a tomato juice and shrimp broth cocktail mix, while others feature savory additions like Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce (via Vamonos to Mexico).

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  The Best Non-Alcoholic Spritzes to Buy or Make at Home No drink so readily evokes the carefree, al fresco everything feeling of summer like the spritz. The traditional Italian cocktail is bitter and bubbly, with just enough sweet and tart flavors for balance, best served over ice in a balloon glass so big it goes past absurd into downright glamorous. Those who don’t want to drink alcohol don’t have to be left out of la dolce vita either, since there are plenty of options available for a zero proof spritz, from the classic Aperol or Campari flavor profile to more unusual combinations of fruits, herbs, spices, and, of course, bitters.

Micheladas typically use a light Mexican beer like a Corona or a Pacifico, but sometimes dark beer — particularly Modelo Negra — is an underrated favorite. So if you're in a pinch and want to spice up a beer in the back of your fridge, try making your own michelada at home with whatever you have on hand. Odds are you can come up with something that resembles the cocktail if you get creative and you can experiment with a totally different way to enjoy your usual after-work beer.

Lemonade And Irish Whiskey

Irish whiskey lemonade cocktail © Michael Kraus/Shutterstock Irish whiskey lemonade cocktail

Irish whiskey lemonade is one of the drinks on this list that should be a more popular bar order than it is because the flavor pairing is massively underrated and infinitely satisfying. Irish whiskey stands out from its American counterpart because it is typically comprised mostly of barley (via WhiskeyMade). The result is a whiskey that is light and malty, with American whiskies tending to have a sweeter and more full-bodied flavor. Irish whiskey's mildness makes it a perfect pairing for a sweet and tangy lemonade. Jameson Irish Whiskey even recommends making this fancy by using sparkling lemonade, but whatever kind have on hand will make a good mixer.

Why the Shape Of Your Glass Matters

  Why the Shape Of Your Glass Matters Here's how to make sure your glass of choice enhances the next drink you pour.Americans are consuming more super-premium spirits than ever before. According to data from the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, higher end bottlings accounted for nearly 82% of the industry's revenue increase between 2020 and 2021. With drinkers willing to spend more on  tequila to Tennessee whiskey in exchange for a superior sipping experience,  proper glassware is a must-have. If you're looking to level up your tipple tasting, look no further.

To take it a step further, you can mix lemonade and iced tea with Irish whiskey for a boozy Arnold Palmer, as suggested by liquor brand Proper No. 12. The tea adds earthy notes to the cocktail, which is notable if you prefer a more balanced drink instead of the pure sweetness from just the lemonade.

Grapefruit Juice And Sparkling Wine

flutes of grapefruit juice mimosa © Oksana Mizina/Shutterstock flutes of grapefruit juice mimosa

Orange juice and champagne is a time-honored pairing that brunch-goers everywhere know and love, but the regular mimosa recipe can get very old, very quickly. For something a little different, try mixing grapefruit juice with your sparkling wine of choice for a slightly more tart version of the cocktail. Tasting Table published a recipe from Gina Robinson, the bar manager at Compass Rose in Washington D.C., for a mimosa using sparkling wine, grapefruit juice, and a splash of passion fruit liqueur for a tropical twist. Grapefruit juice and champagne alone will make a solid pairing if the fancy liqueurs aren't an option for you, but it's a good example of a simple way to doctor it up even more.

One Reddit user suggests, when opting for grapefruit mimosas, don't use a highly acidic sparkling wine like Cava or real Champagne. Rather, Prosecco or California sparkling wines are the preferred option. "Just made that mistake on Christmas Eve. Favorite grapefruit juice + delicious Cava = not delicious beverage," the user wrote.

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Cold Brew And Tequila

iced tequila cold brew cocktail © AliceCam/Shutterstock iced tequila cold brew cocktail

Espresso martinis are all the rage, but vodka isn't everyone's favorite spirit of choice. For the tequila fans out there, there is a simple way to make a version of the popular drink featuring your preferred liquor, and it doesn't even require shaking. It may sound like an odd combination, but cold brew coffee and tequila, particularly a smoky reposado, is an underrated combination. Don Julio has a recipe mixing the brand's reposado, a little milk, and cold brew for their version, with the option to add simple syrup for those who prefer their coffee on the sweeter side.

Cointreau, an orange liqueur commonly used in margaritas, created its own version of a cold brew margarita. The brand mixes tequila, Cointreau, cold brew, and oat milk in their version. Coffee and orange may sound odd, but tequila and Cointreau are always a good pairing. The liqueur adds a smooth acidity to the drink that's shockingly complimentary, almost like the pairing of chocolate and orange. One Redditor got even more creative with their version of this caffeinated pick-me-up. They incorporated Dalgona coffee -- the whipped coffee trend that was popular on TikTok in 2020 -- to add a fluffy texture to the standard mix.

Pineapple Juice And White Rum

pineapple juice white rum punch © Oxana Denezhkina/Shutterstock pineapple juice white rum punch

Whether the weather outside matches the tropical vibes or not, sometimes the craving for a bright and boozy rum punch hits like the urge to take a much-needed vacation during a period of burnout. Rum punch typically is a blend of light rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, grenadine, and sometimes coconut rum -- so it's quite a long list of ingredients that you might not have on-hand at all times. Thankfully, if you keep your home bar stocked with a solid white rum and a few cans of pineapple juice, the pairing happens to make a pretty stellar mixed drink in a pinch.

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Sure, something basic like Bacardi Carta Blanca will do, but something a little more flavorful like RumHaven's Caribbean Rum made with coconut water will really amp up the flavors of tropical fruit. Bacardi even has a recipe for a similar cocktail using their aged rum, which can be a bit more of a complex and stiff drink if that's more your thing. Pineapple juice can be pretty acidic, so this mixed drink is an easy cocktail to water down with a little plain seltzer water to make it even more refreshing and less sweet.

Ginger Kombucha And Vodka

Ginger kombucha and vodka © Inna Dodor/Shutterstock Ginger kombucha and vodka

Some households like to keep kombucha in stock in bulk, as the bubbly probiotic drink has health benefits and can serve as a non-alcoholic option when you just want something to sip on (via Healthline). If you're someone who always has a giant bottle of ginger kombucha in your refrigerator, that also means you can easily make a probiotic-filled version of a Moscow Mule at any time. Ginger kombucha, your favorite vodka, and a little lime juice can go a long way, and it might end up being your preferred way to enjoy the flavor combination rather than the usual ginger beer and vodka. It's also a delicious cocktail regardless of your preferred flavor of kombucha, so it's another great combination to get creative with or use what you have.

A spiked ginger kombucha works with nearly any vodka you have, including Tito's and Grey Goose. To elevate this mixed drink, try something a little different like Grand Teton Distillery's signature potato vodka, which serves as a subtle partner to a vinegary kombucha. As previously mentioned, kombucha is a great non-alcoholic alternative. To keep the booze content low, you can mix kombucha with a low-proof vodka like BODY to enjoy the same beverage without the hangover the next day.

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Coconut Water And Aged Rum

coconut drink with straw © Here Asia/Shutterstock coconut drink with straw

Coconut water is a super-powered drink to keep in your fridge at all times, whether or not you're mixing it with booze. It is extremely hydrating and has plenty of other health benefits, which means that it helps combat a hangover while you're drinking if you mix it in your cocktail (via Vogue). One well-known drink from San Francisco tiki bartending master Martin Cate is the Caribeño, a cocktail featuring light rum, coconut water, and bit of lime juice (via Liquor.com). If robust aged rum is more your style, we suggest that you try your hand at making this cocktail at home with your rum of choice.

Aged rum and light rum are two very different spirits, as anyone who has sampled both knows very well. Light rum is definitely more of a crowd pleaser, but if you're making this for yourself at home, treat yourself to a rum that suits your palate. One awesome rum to pair with coconut water is Kasama small-batch aged rum, which is distilled from cane juice in the Philippines. The complex rum blends perfectly with the velvety coconut water that only needs a little lime juice, and you'll be shocked at how easy this drink comes together.

Lemon-Lime Sports Drink And Mezcal

holding yellow gatorade bottle © Patcharaporn Puttipon2465/Shutterstock holding yellow gatorade bottle

Mezcal enthusiasts may want to click off of this list immediately at the thought of tarnishing an expertly-crafted spirit by mixing it with a sports drink like Gatorade. We get your frustration, but not everyone can or always wants to sip mezcal straight-up. Sometimes the craving for a smoky margarita strikes, but you want to put forth next-to-no effort to enjoy it. It doesn't mean you have to go to the bar and shell out $15-plus for a cocktail — you just have to open your mind a little and modify your expectations.

Mezcal mixed with lemon-lime Gatorade is not going to be the same thing as a drink with fresh-squeezed lime juice, but it isn't supposed to be. Shockingly though, the flavor of yellow Gatorade is light and acidic. It provides as a good mixer with a savory mezcal, but you obviously don't want to use the strongest top-shelf mezcal for this drink. Madre Mezcal Espadin is great pairing with Gatorade as it is also relatively light. It makes for a drink that isn't overwhelming, is quite refreshing, and hydrates you at the same time you're drinking it -- after all, Gatorade is already a popular hangover drink. Laugh all you want, but the mezcal Gatoradita is an underrated combination. Home Wet Bar suggests mixing mezcal with the lime cucumber flavor of Gatorade if you can get your hands on it, as the fresh cucumber flavor adds even more to this unexpected drink.

Cranberry Juice And Gin

cranberry gin martinis with limes © Louise Crouch/Shutterstock cranberry gin martinis with limes

Gin and juice is more than just a well known Snoop Dogg song. It's also a pretty foolproof mix, regardless of what you have on hand, that can turn out a stellar cocktail at a moment's notice. One pantry-stable option is gin with a little cranberry juice. Gin is more herbal and floral than vodka, which tends to be more neutral in flavor. Those flavor qualities pair well with tart cranberry juice, or whatever cranberry juice mix you prefer. Ocean Spray has a recipe for a Cranberry-Lime Gin Rickey that uses club soda, cranberry juice, lime juice, gin, and a little salt, but the two base ingredients are what's most important.

For the holidays, Christopher James, the head bartender at Tom Colicchio's Fowler & Wells, created the Cranble drink for Tasting Table. James' recipe features muddled cranberries, lemon juice, simple syrup, and gin. The fresh cranberries add even more tartness to the drink, but the juice will do just fine in a pinch. Hendricks or Tanqueray are always solid gin options, but Junipero Gin is a craft option that leans more citrus in flavor, adding even more depth to the simple drink.

Hot Chocolate And Peanut Butter Whiskey

hot chocolate in mug © Edalin Photography/Shutterstock hot chocolate in mug

When the cold winter months hit and you need something to really warm you up from the inside out, you can't go wrong with a boozy hot chocolate. There are so many ways to make it with whatever your liquor of choice is, but adding a peanut butter-flavored whiskey like Skrewball is one surefire way to take your hot chocolate to the next level. Homemade hot chocolate always beats the packaged stuff, but it can work in a pinch and both taste good with this sweet whiskey blend.

This drink can be easily doctored up by adding more peanut butter flavor, frothing a bit of milk, or just topping it with a hefty dollop of whipped cream. Compared to traditional bourbon whiskey, Skrewball is significantly sweeter and smoother, meaning you can pour a decent shot and it will blend seamlessly with the hot chocolate and do a stellar job at masking the booze inside. Even if peanut butter and chocolate isn't your go-to flavor combination for ice cream and candy, this festive treat has such a stellar balance of flavors that it truly is hard not to enjoy at least one mug on a cold day.

Lemon Tea And Cognac

pouring boozy lemon tea © Mateusz Gzik/Shutterstock pouring boozy lemon tea

Another good cocktail combination that will warm you up while still remaining light -- and without a lot of added sugar -- is a hot lemon tea with a shot of cognac in it. A little lemon juice and honey mixed in goes a long way with this drink, which is a unique take on a traditional Hot Toddy. Cognac has a similar flavor profile to a corn-based bourbon, but with fruity and floral notes that pair well with an herbal tea with a hit of acid. Hennessy is one of the more popular cognacs on the market that definitely sways sweet and would pair well with your favorite tea and won't break the bank. Consequently, a higher-end cognac like Rémy Martin XO or Martell XO would be tasty, but they are a little bit of a pricier spirit to mix in with a cup of tea. All will taste great, so to each his own.

Read this next: The Best Cheap Mixed Drinks To Order At A Bar

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