Our frequent Thursday Happy Hour guests have probably noticed — so I’m not giving up a big secret here — but we don’t usually have premium alcohol brands in our bar. Not unless there’s been a birthday or special occasion; then we’re lucky. We’ve found the secret to a great drink isn’t the booze, it’s the mixer.
Here are our favorite mixers that make a big difference:
How to Make Simple Syrup or Bar Sugar
You can buy it, but it’s more fun to make a big batch and keep in the fridge. Here’s how to make it:
- Add 1 cup of water to a sauce pan over medium high heat.
- Add 2 cups of sugar, stir until dissolved completely.
- Remove from heat and add 1 cup more of ice water to speed the cooling.
- Transfer to a bottle or jar and store covered in the fridge. Keeps for 2-4 weeks.
How to Make Vanilla Simple Syrup
To make vanilla simple syrup, add a whole vanilla bean during the last minute of heating. Include the vanilla bean when you transfer the syrup to a bottle.
How to Make Pear Simple Syrup
Here’s the recipe for pear simple syrup, and a great cocktail to go with it, called The Opportunist.
How to Make Hibiscus Flower Simple Syrup
To make hibiscus simple syrup:
- Drop 5-8 dried hibiscus flowers (or 1-2 ounces) in a jar.
- Pour 8 ounces of hot simple syrup (1 part water, 1 part sugar) over the flowers.
- Allow to cool.
- Screw on lid and store in refrigerator.
Try this flower syrup in iced tea, soda water, or in this cocktail recipe: Hibiscus Potion Cocktail.
How to Make Sweet and Sour
Again, easy enough to find at the store, but oh-so-yummy made at home. Here’s how:
- 2 cups fresh-squeezed lemon juice (or not fresh if lemons are crazy expensive).
- Add enough simple syrup to take of the puckery edge.
- Store covered in the fridge.
How to Make Triple Sec and Bitters
Roses Lime Juice
Keep a bottle of Roses in your fridge. It’s not a substitute for real limes, but then again fresh-squeezed lime juice isn’t a substitute for Roses. You’ll likely need both at some point. Have you had our Gimlets?
Soda and Seltzer
We have a soda charger — one of those throwbacks we luckily found on sale at Crate & Barrel. We’ll always have soda water. If you don’t want to make your own, keep small bottles or cans of it on hand. The big 2 liter bottles will go flat before you get through it.
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