Plain soda makes for a great neutral mixer, perfect for enhancing the mouthful of neat alcohol or as a base for a cocktail. Plain soda also pairs excellently with neutral spirits such as vodka or white rum, as well as clear spirits such as gon and feni.
When it comes to mixing alcohol with a beverage, the options are endless. There are several factors to consider when choosing the perfect mixer for your drink, including taste, nutritional value, and potential health risks. That said, the right mixer can elevate your drink to the next level. But with so many choices out there, how do you know which one is the best fit for your drink? In this article, we’ll delve into the world of alcoholic mixers, exploring the pros and cons of popular options like water, soda, and coke. Whether you’re a cocktail connoisseur or just looking to mix up your drink game, this guide has got you covered. So, grab your shaker and let’s get mixing!
Water is a natural choice when it comes to mixing with alcohol. It’s calorie-free and hydrating, making it a great option for those looking to stay hydrated and maintain a healthy weight. Water is also considered the best mixer for high-quality cask-strength alcohol, particularly whisky. Cask-strength whisky is often much stronger than standard bottled whisky, with an alcohol by volume (ABV) of 50% or higher. This can make it quite overwhelming to drink it neat (straight, without any mixers). Adding a small amount of water to the whisky can help to "open up" the flavors and aromas and make it more palatable and easier to drink. The only downside of using water as a mixer is that it doesn’t work as well with spirits that are of low quality, since the liquid makes the flaws in both technique and flavor much more apparent compared to the spirit served as is. This is why most gourmands use whisky mixed with water as a baseline to gauge the quality of the spirit.
For those looking for a sweet, carbonated mixer, Coke and diet Coke are popular options. The beverage is probably the most widespread flavored mixer on the market, with a distinct taste that can make for some truly stunning pairings. Coca-Cola goes well with rum or bourbon and also works well as a mixer for less expensive neutral spirits like white rum or vodka. Because coke's sweet flavor and effervescent mouthfeel can help balance out the strong, often spicy or woody flavors found in most rums, coke and rum can be an excellent pairing. Mixing coke with bourbon serves a similar purpose; the sparkling beverage helps tone down the spiciness of the rye and enhance the taste of sweeter grains like barley and corn. There are several cocktails that feature these mixtures, such as the Cuba Libre with rum and coke and the Jack and Cola, a simple mixture of Jack Daniel’s and coke.
Plain soda makes for a great neutral mixer, perfect for enhancing the mouthful of neat alcohol or as a base for a cocktail. Plain soda also pairs excellently with neutral spirits such as vodka or white rum, as well as clear spirits such as gon and feni. Most people will prefer drinking gin neat with just a tiny splash of soda for mouthfeel, as this offers a more unblemished representation of the spirit as opposed to pairing it with tonic. That said, most commercially available sodas have a high mineral content, which can be detrimental to the taste of more expensive beverages. It is recommended to use seltzer for mixing such spirits since it is absolutely neutral in its composition. Alternatively, you may make your own soda with a balanced TDS (total dissolved solids) profile using distilled water, powdered minerals, and an inexpensive soda maker. Using flavored hard seltzer as a base for cocktails that feature clear spirits such as gin, vodka, or white rum makes for more refined drinks that are void of any metallic taste.
So, which mixer is the best choice for your alcoholic drink? Ultimately, the answer will depend on your personal preferences and health goals. If you’re looking to maintain a healthy weight and reduce your risk of certain health conditions, water is likely the best choice. It’s calorie-free, sugar-free, and hydrating, making it a great option for those looking to stay healthy. If you prefer a sweet, carbonated mixer, opt for a low-calorie or sugar-free alternative, such as a diet soda or flavored water. Just be aware of the potential health risks associated with artificial sweeteners and be sure to consume these drinks in moderation. As for flavor, most spirits benefit from either water or soda as a mixer, with Coca-Cola having a limited use case that pertains to spirits with a more pronounced flavor.