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    The Best Non-Alcoholic Mixers For Making Boozy and Non-Boozy Drinks

    Because your booze straight up needs some drinking buddies.

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    Building the booze part of your home bar cart is the easy, albeit expensive, part. You know what spirits you like to imbibe and what your party guests usually go for (mas Tequila). But you’re also going to need another very important element to add to all of that alcohol: mixers.

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    “When people think of mixers, they mostly think of the things that they mix with spirits. And they mostly think of things like sodas and juices,” says Chelsea Gregoire, Esquire’s Beverage Director of the Year and owner of the beverage consultant company Drinkable Genius. “But I don't think that needs to be the case.

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    While mixers can be both alcoholic (think liqueurs or apéritifs like chartreuse or Fernet Branca or even a spirit like Vermouth that you wouldn’t ordinarily drink straight) and non-alcoholic, for the purposes of this story, we’ll be focusing on the latter. Why? Because you can create tasty boozy and non-boozy concoctions with them while adding significant depth and diversity to your bar cart all without spending a ton.

    “It's like a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure,’ right? What do you like to drink that you can keep on your home bar? That's it,” Gregoire says. So here are an award-winning beverage director’s top picks for non-alcoholic mixers.

    Bitters

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    Bitters are like the salt and pepper of cocktails and every bar cart should have a bottle. But pay close attention to the label of the bitters you select. A common brand like Angostura contains alcohol. “Fee Brothers Bitters ($9.49) is a great example of non-alcoholic bitters,” according to Gregoire. “So, that way if a person wants to make a drink that tastes like a cocktail but isn't, they can add some bitters to season it as well as round and marry flavors together.”

    Seltzers, Tonics, & Sodas

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    As easy (and cheap) as it is to grab that 99-cent bottle of store-brand seltzer your spirits deserve better. Why? A store brand tonic might have a little too much sugar or it might be a little too bitter. “You want the mixer to do justice to the spirit,” Gregoire says. “Q Mixer Sodas ($19.99) are my go-to. They're really lovely and run the whole spectrum, a couple of different tonics, flavored sodas, regular club soda, and ginger ale. If you can find one of the larger glass bottles, the tops reseal so you don't have to use it all at once. And don’t be afraid to lean into Italian bitter sodas either like a Chinotto from San Pellegrino .”

    Fresh Fruit

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    A fresh piece of fruit is a multifunctional mixer and is always going to be a better option than anything from a carton or a can. Take a lemon for example. Cut a slice to serve as a garnish, use the peel to infuse some flavor, and juice it. Nothing goes to waste. “The possibilities are endless, and there's a way to use the whole thing. Just make sure you have a hand juicer ($6.97) or press,” Gregoire recommends. Let your guests kind of dictate where they want to go with it. And always make sure the fruit is fresh because it always tastes better that way.”

    Syrups

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    “Another big non-alcoholic mixer that I really enjoy, that's kind of mocking a spirit, is the Giffard Aperitif Syrup, which is kind of like a non-alcoholic Campari,” Gregoire says. The colorful and flavorful Giffard Syrups are made of pure sugar, are pasteurized for long-term use, and can be used in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drink recipes. “They’re typically very inexpensive and really delicious. These syrups also add a little bit of sweetness so you don't have to really add any extra sugar.”

    Ginger Beer

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    One ginger beer does not fit all, some are too sweet and some are too spicy. It’s up to you to figure out which one works best for your bar cart (same goes for Tonic Water). “The spicier ginger beers can sometimes be overpowering,” Gregoire says. “The reason why you use a spicy ginger beer in an alcoholic drink like a Dark and Stormy is that the rum is typically a dark black straps variety that’s very molasses heavy and sugary, so the spice works to offset those flavors.”

    Seed Lip

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    Seed Lip's Garden 108 is a non-alcoholic mixer that’s a floral blend of (get ready for this) peas, hay, rosemary, thyme, spearmint, and hops. It’s also an acquired taste so it’s not for everyone. “Seed Lip's look really attractive on the bar and they tend to be a little bit more expensive, but they are really delicious,” Gregoire says. “The 108 is a great replacement for gin so you could do a Seed Lip Garden and tonic and it would be completely nonalcoholic.”

    And If You’re In a Jam...

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    Well, there’s always jam! Some last-minute non-alcoholic mixers are hiding in your kitchen cabinets if you can’t make it out to the store for a last-minute get-together.

    Salt, for example, works the same way for drinks as it does for food, by enhancing and marrying flavors.

    All you need to create a simple syrup is some sugar and water with some other on-hand elements added in there. “You can add some black pepper and a little bit of vanilla. That'd be super delicious as a syrup,” Gregoire says. “And don’t forget to take a look at your baking spices.”

    If you don't even have time to make a syrup, you can take a spoonful of jam and put it in your shaker. “It's got enough sugar content and it adds fruit flavor!”