The Three Essential Mixers

Like a good Chef has to have knowledge of the “Mother Sauces” a good bartender needs to know how to make the Three Essential Mixers that every well stocked bar should have. Like well-made culinary sauces these Mixers need to be made with fresh ingredients and be fresh themselves.  They are as Follows:

FIRST: Gomme Syrup, Gum Syrup, Rock Candy Syrup, or Simple Syrup

By any other name this is a simple sugar syrup that is used in place of granulated or powder sugar . Granulated is useless when it comes to dissolving it into a cold drink (think iced tea!) Powdered sugar is traditional and works but you need a shaker to get rid of the clumps. Sugar cubes are ingredients in cocktails but for specific uses such as in an Old Fashioned or Champagne Cocktail where syrup just won’t do.

Sugar and water were the first things that were used  to temper the strength of spirits and make them more palatable. Originally known as Gomme or Gum syrup, it is a mix of water with Demerara Sugar with Gum Arabic, which is a plant extract from the Acacia Tree’s Sap. This syrup was the original sugar syrup and was said to not only sweeten but to add texture to the cocktail (Research to Follow!).

Today’s simple syrup is, well, simple. There are various theories on the concentration of Simple Syrup with recipes ranging from 1 to 1water to sugar up to 3 to 1water to sugar. The more sugar, the more viscosity and texture but you need to adjust your recipes unless you want a sugar over-dose. My best advice is to make it the same way always and get used to the sweetness level so that you know by rote how much to use.

Simple Syrup   

  • 1 Cup of Water
  • 1 to 3 Cups Granulated Sugar (pick your strength)

Put the Two in a Saucepan on a Low Heat and Bring to a Boil.  Boil for 2 Minutes.  Cool and Bottle in a Sterile Glass Bottle.  This will keep refrigerated for about a week.

SECOND: Sour Mix, Sweet and Sour Mix or Bar Mix

Any bartender worth his Margarita salt is going to make fresh sour mix. It is simple and the flavor is 100 times better than any powder or shelf stable concentrate you can buy. The recipes again have some variations and you can adjust them to taste but the basic recipe is as follows.

Sweet and Sour Mix

  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Cup Water
  • 1 Cup Lemon Juice
  • 1 Cup Lime Juice
  • 2 egg whites (optional)

Combine the Water and Sugar in a Saucepan Over Low Heat.  Bring to a Boil for 2 Minutes.  Cool and then Add the Lemon and Lime Juice.  Stir in Egg Whites for a Sour Mix that Gets Frothy (optional).  This will keep refrigerated for about a week.

THIRD: Real Grenadine Syrup

Grenadine used to be a respectable bar syrup in the days when it was made properly. Today commercial Grenadine Syrup is some sort of artificially colored sugar water with little resemblance to the original and devoid of any redeeming qualities. True Grenadine is made from Pomegranate’s and has a wonderful range of uses from the best “Kiddie Cocktail” in the world, to being key in classics like the Jack Rose Cocktail. The recipe is as follows:

How to Make Real Grenadine

  • 1 Quart Pomegranate Juice
  • 2 cups demurra sugar (plain white will do)
  • 2 Dashes Rose Flower Water (Optional)

Bring Pomegranate Juice and Sugar (Rose Flower Water) to a Boil.  Reduce Heat, Cover and Simmer for 15 Minutes.  Let cool and put into a sealed glass bottle.  Syrup will keep in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 weeks.