For Cocktails, Your Mixers Are Just as Important as Your Booze
How new companies specializing in tonics, syrups and garnishes are elevating at-home cocktail culture
Just launched in the U.S., Double Dutch is part of a new wave of drinks brands that concentrate on everything but the booze — think mixers, syrups, garnishes, etc. All of which are just as important to your cocktail as the spirit itself, especially if you’re at home and you want to make a quick but elevated drink.
Interestingly, these cocktail-adjacent companies tend to have more interesting stories, possibly because many of them feature women and/or BIPOC owners and a purposely diverse workforce; they also make sustainable and socially-minded practices a centerpiece of their branding.
“It’s important for people to know there’s an authentic story behind what we do,” says Joyce De Haas, the co-founder of Double Dutch with her twin sister Raissa. “So we definitely want people to know that we just became 100% carbon neutral, that we’re very into diversity and that we’re helping with a female-empowerment bar program in the U.K.”
The siblings behind Double Dutch — who are, yes, Dutch, but now work out of England — took their early passion for making homemade cocktail syrups to an extreme. Frustrated by their jobs in finance, the duo went back to school to get MBAs in entrepreneurship, wrote a dissertation on their mixers and won an award…which helped, in part, fund their first production batch.
And yes, social awareness aside, these mixers taste really, really good. The secrets here are that the tonics and sodas feature real ingredients that are naturally sweet, lowering the need for much additional sugar; as well, the sometimes seemingly unusual flavor profiles here are crafted, in part, via science. Or as the sisters call it, molecular pairings. “Every ingredient obviously has different molecules, but some have key component similarities — for example, cucumber and watermelon actually come from the same family,” says Raissa.
Below, four more new companies reinventing the home cocktail movement:
Your eco-friendly tonic: The Spare Food Co.
Spare Tonic creators and brothers Jeremy (formerly at Patagonia) and Adam Kaye (former culinary director at Blue Hill at Stone Barns) crafted these tasty tonic combinations — Lemon & Ginger, Cucumber & Lime, Blueberry & Ginger, and Peach & Turmeric — from 85%-90% upcycled whey that would have otherwise been discarded in the production of yogurt (the tonics also contains fruit, spice and honey). Given its origins, it’s no surprise that these mixers are available at ImperfectFoods.com.
Your unexpected sweetness: V Smiley Preserves
Jam is an excellent cheat for quick, at-home drinks (so says the mixology team behind Death & Co.) and this Vermont couple (and mom) makes a line of honey-sweetened preserves and jams that actually pair nicely with home cocktails.
Your healthier mixer option: AVEC
Diversity is the centerpiece of this Brooklyn-based mixer company, which claims that 90% of their team are women, POC and/or LGBTQ+ (as well, they also received some funding from Pharrell Williams). As for the product? These are mixers with 80% to 90% less sugar and flavored with real juice and botanical extracts; the company also offers full cocktail kits.
Your not-so-simple syrups and garnishes: Pink House Alchemy
Founded by Emily Lawson, this company creates a line of bitters, shrubs and particularly interesting simple syrups that lean on science and experimentation — they’ll happily tout the use of centrifuge clarification, sous-vide and ultrasonication in crafting their line of products, which also includes full cocktail kits, rimming salts, dehydrated fruit and other garnishes.
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