All Mixed Up

Summer’s cocktail mixers get gold stars for playing well with others, as well as on their own

untitled-1.jpgPsst! Your vodka’s looking a little … lonely lately. Gin, too. In fact, your whole cocktail sitch is, well, it’s pretty sad. If you’re still drinking entry-level rum-and-diets and vodka sodas, it’s time to mix things up a little—literally. Today’s cocktail mixers trump ye olde commercial tonic water, flat cola and cranberry juice off the gun. Here are our favorite new entries to the mixer market.

1) Altar Herbal & Botanical Mood Mixers

Inspired by 1800s apothecaries, Altar offers a line of five natural, sophisticated herbal mixers that you can spike or just serve chilled for a non-alcoholic option. Aphrodisiac, Bliss, Chi, Chill and Restore are made with heirloom fruits and vegetables, single-estate teas, spices and botanicals. Chi, for example, combines cherries, hyssop, Hawaiian ginger, Oregon spearmint, juniper berries and sumac with Vert du Vietnam green tea and an herbal tonic of white ginseng, astragalus, kola nut, honey and watercress. Although each flavor comes with a recommended spirit pairing (try Chi with vodka, rum or gin), you can use whatever suits you. And each serving is only 25-40 calories! Try them in the Laundry Room at Commonwealth.

2) Crabbie’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer

Bridging the gap between the mixology, craft beer, cider and wine communities is Crabbie’s, a refreshing alcoholic ginger beer made in the Scottish tradition of its predecessor, Crabbie’s Green Ginger Wine, which dates to 1801. Effervescent, aromatic and subtly spicy, the Crabbie’s wine base is steeped for eight weeks with Sri Lankan ginger—no shortcuts or powdered ginger here, old chap!—before malt is added for a nice balance of sweetness and heat. Pick some up at Total Wine & Spirits and Whole Foods Markets, and mix with your favorite dark rum for an incredibly delicious Dark & Stormy. Or try it by itself on the rocks and served with a slice of lemon or lime at Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill in Caesars Palace.

3) Mr. Q Cumber

Just cucumber extract, cane sugar, filtered carbonated water and citric acid—that’s everything you’ll find in Mr. Q Cumber all-natural cucumber soda, the most refreshing mixer—not to mention the cutest!—to hit the club-service circuit. Mr. Q launched in 2010 becoming an instant award-winner, but it takes time for even the awesomest of things to find their way to Las Vegas. Mr. Q is now available, and just in time for what’s looking to be a scorching summer. Look for it at Cost Plus World Market locations, Vons and online for about $2 per bottle. At home, try it on the rocks with your favorite vodka or gin and a citrus twist, or in Wynn Resorts property mixologist Patricia Richards’ Bringing Sexy Back cocktail at Andrea’s in Encore.

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