Look, you’re a grown-up.
You should have a few simple cocktail recipes in your arsenal.
Having said that ... there are times when the last thing you want to do is shake, stir, zest, garnish, infuse or strain (the drink or yourself). Especially during holiday season.
Hence: ready-made cocktail mixers and a few ready-made drinks to match, for the truly lazy busy host. We’re not talking Bethenny Frankel’s Skinny Girl Margarita Mix (nor do I, uh, know who and what those things are). These are tonics and elixirs that are simple in prep but elevated in taste.
For the Prestigious: Crafthouse Cocktails
Bottle goodness by Charles Joly, award-winning Chicago mixologist at The Aviary and a former Bartender of the Year at Tales of the Cocktail (aka the Oscars of booze). Crafthouse drinks are ready-to-serve versions of your favorite tipples. Seriously: just pour over ice.
For Syrup Lovers: Liber and Co.
An Austin-based maker of fine bar mixers, L&C spices up a number of simple cocktails while saving you the hassle of making your own syrups (which isn’t hard, but is time-consuming).
For the Neither Shaken nor Stirred: Vitani
Single serve and 750ml bottles of Cosmos and dirty martinis, housed in aluminum and rockin’ a solid 36-39 proof — pretty high for ready-made.
For the “I’m on a Diet”s: Caffeinated Club and Be Mixed
______ and soda: sort of the lettuce of booze. That said, these zero-cal club sodas come in a variety of flavors (lemon, raspberry, etc.) with a caffeine kick. Healthy backup: Be Mixed, which offers no-calorie, all-natural bottled mixers like cucumber mint and ginger lime. Your energy here comes from within.
For the Choosy: Mouth
The indie food and spirits store offers a bevy (ha!) of funky mixers and syrups, from Thai Basil to Organic Maple Bitters. More effort, more reward.
For Mr. Two-Steps-Is-Enough: Powell and Mahoney
Vermont-based makers of handsomely bottled and all-natural cocktail mixers. The idea here is to cut out the hard-to-find ingredients and multi-step prep. For most P&M cocktails, you simply combine a liquor and mixer (Sriracha Bloody Mary, Mojito, Lemon Sour, etc.) in a shaker with ice, then shake and strain into a glass.
For Elevated G&Ts: Boylan Heritage Cocktail Mixers
Our friends at W&P Design (makers of the Mason Shaker and the Carry On Cocktail Kit) have collab’d with Boylan Bottling for a series of simple but potent mixers. Seriously: these tonics will enhance any drink.
For the Home Shopper: Cocktail Courier and Instapour
Key word here is on-demand. CC delivers ingredients and recipes crafted by popular local bartenders, usually enough to make six people happy. Instapour goes a step further … or less, actually: your prep for these almost-ready-made drinks is pretty much shake and pour. And you can keep ‘em coming with a monthly subscription.
For the Afternoon Tea Crowd: Owl’s Brew
Delicious tea mixers that pair well with spirits (particularly Scotch). We had several a few weeks back. Like:
THE RUFFED GROUSE
Created by Tim Heuisler, Time Restaurant, Philadelphia
• 1.5 oz. Black Grouse whisky
• 1 oz. Owl’s Brew “The Smoky Earl”
• .5 oz. fresh lemon juice. • 25 oz. PA maple syrup
• Pinch of cinnamon
Build all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake with ice. Strain into a smoked sea salt-rimmed dessert wine glass.