Liquid Thinking

Mixer Taste Test

From Bloody Mary Soda to mixers for prosecco

2nd March 2022

With ever more nuanced flavours, exotic flavours, bolder flavours, and even some frankly bonkers flavours, now making their way on to the already-heaving shelves of the mixer aisle, we thought it was high time to put them to the test. Our mission? To find out, amidst the gold rush of new products, whose claims – from pairing with an ever-wider array of spirits, to being able to consumed on their own – checked out.

If you’ve been keeping up with Liquid Thinking, you’ll have seen that in a previous piece we delved into the perplexing matter of mixers. In recent years, a rapid growth in new flavours, alongside their now seeming challenge to the non-alc sector with liquids designed to be drank on their own, has led to a somewhat confusing positioning. Is their primary role still to enhance and pair perfectly with a spirit? Or are they now fully formed drinks in their own right?

Amidst this flurry of new brands and varietals, we’ve watched some intriguing trends emerge. As previously explored, soda has become a key challenger to tonic, as consumers look for lower calorie options. It’s become a key challenger to cola too, as brands launch flavours designed to pair with dark spirits such as rum.

On that note, dark spirits have always been a bit of a conundrum when it comes to mixers; is there a challenger that pairs as well with them as cola? And is there anything that is worthy of mixing with super premium dark spirits? Some new spirit-specific mixers think so. And for those that have ever accidentally sipped a tonic neat, and winced at its bitter taste, well, now there’s tonics that have been created to be drunk alone. Hurrah.

We gathered an array of the most intriguing or ‘on-trend’ mixers on the market – all were flavoured products – and had some key questions before tasing. Firstly, how far can drinks makers push the development of new flavours, while still letting the spirit shine through? Afterall, when you pay for a drink, the majority of your cash is being spent on the spirit. You want to taste it.

Secondly, did their claims of pairing with a wide array of spirits stand true? We purposefully selected a range intended to match with everything from brandy to mezcal. And finally, what were they like to sip on their own?

We scored each product out of 10 based on how good it tasted, how notable any flavours it claimed to have were, how well it paired with the spirit claimed by the brand, and how likely we were to want to drink it again. The full list of products we tested are at the bottom. But here’s our main conclusions:

Beauty – or good taste – is in the taste buds of the beholder

One of the more intriguing – and amusing – parts about collating our results was the realisation that one person’s, and I’m quoting here, “bin juice” is another person’s “absolute favourite”.

Not just one, but several products seemed to have the ‘marmite’ effect, polarising the opinion of the group. In fact the biggest range we had in scores for one product was eight, for a drink scored as low as two, and as high as ten, and another where the lowest score was one and the highest nine. I’m excluding the product that scored a high of nine, and a low of minus ten. Minus points weren’t in the rules.

Why does this matter? Well, the proliferation of new mixer products in recent years may seem excessive; where and how do retailers stock them? What range are they supposed to have? Do our results suggest that producers are creating a market that is successful in catering to all tastes? Possibly.

Some products tasted great on their own, but not with the spirits intended to mix with

This one was a bit of a revelation. While we expected some testers to not enjoy some products neat – even if brands claimed they were appropriate for doing so – we did not expect them to find that they didn’t work with their intended pairing, and were favoured as stand-alone products instead.

Sekforde Prickly Pear, Fig, and Cardamom is designed to compliment agave-based spirits, with the fruit said to deliver understated honey notes, while the cardamon is said to work with the spicy finish of both tequila and mezcal. But, actually, in our taste test, most actually preferred it on its own, and rejected its spirit pairing.

Sweet and floral, the London Essence Company’s White Peach and Jasmine Crafted Soda was also preferred by some – but not all – as a stand-alone drink.

Which were the lowest scoring and why?

The lowest scoring products we tested were notably ones that offered the boldest flavours. Those were the London Essence Company’s Pomelo and Pink Pepper Tonic Water, whose peppery flavour is said to work best with juniper-heavy gins. Emphasising the herbal notes in the gin, most found the pepper too overpowering, especially when mixed. Though some of that pepper will have come from the gin itself, it still shows that it wasn’t a favourable match.  

The other lowest scorer was also one that some of our panel actually adored. Double Dutch Bloody Mary Soda with Pepper does exactly what it sounds like it does; replicates the taste of a Bloody Mary. With its fresh tomato notes, and a little heat, it authentically tasted like the savoury cocktail, which frankly some just didn’t like. But for those that did, being able to simply add vodka or tequila for a fast and light version of the cocktail, is a win.

Which scored highest?

Interestingly our highest scorers were those that stepped outside the norm when it came to the products they’re intended to pair with. The London Essence Company’s White Peach and Jasmine Crafted Soda is recommended paired with prosecco for a lighter version of a Bellini. With a similar taste profile to a fruit flavoured spring water, most said they’d happily drink it neat too.

Our other highest scorer was Double Dutch Pomegranate & Basil, which belonged to a new category of mixers we’re seeing emerge, that defy conventional categorisation. Not a tonic, not a soda, just a mixer, it’s recommended served with vermouth or mezcal. We also tried it with dark spirits, such as bourbon and cognac. Interestingly its slight savoury taste helped bring out a number of flavours from the spirit, whichever was chosen, but especially for bourbon, where notes of coconut and sweet vanilla shone through. Our panel also loved the rounded, premium mouthfeel.

So what did we learn?

Firstly, the wide variety of mixers now available do have a role. Though surely a challenge – read headache – to stockists confused about what to range, or even with so many available, where to put them, the new wave of mixers are widening the options when it comes to pairing with spirits beyond gin and vodka. Rum, cognac, whisky, tequila, mezcal et al, have largely been ignored when it comes to interesting, premium mixing options, until now. And products designed to pair with these under utilised spirits (when it comes to mixing) were the most popular in our test.

Secondly, not all pairings work, and that of course, will always be a matter of opinion. But in the race to be different, to stand out, to draw consumers in with intriguing flavours, and to be enjoyable as a stand-alone option, what brand owners must never forget it that the role of a mixer is first and foremost to work alongside a spirit. Not all managed to do that. And that is a fundamental failing.

As the market continues to grow – led at the moment by strong growth in soda, which is being lined-up as the flavourful but light option to pair with everything from prosecco to mezcal – brands better watch out that their pairings really do work.

What we tasted


Double Dutch Bloody Mary Soda

Pairing: Vodka or tequila

Our panel said:

“Very savoury; kind of like a fresh salad or a lasagne. Not keen on the aftertaste.”

London Essence Company White Peach & Jasmine Crafted Soda

Pairing: Prosecco

Our panel said:

“Very perfumed and sweet, chalky after taste. Quite beer-like when mixed.”

“Artificial tasting, but also watery. However, the prosecco cuts through the sweetness, and really enhances it.”

Sekforde Prickly Pear, Fig and Cardamom Soda

Pairing: Tequila or mezcal

Our panel said:

“Can’t distinguish between the different ingredients. But when mixed, there’s an equal balance of flavours. It really compliments the vanilla notes in the spirit.”

Fever Tree Mexican Lime Soda

Pairing: Vodka or tequila

Our panel said:

“Tastes like a margarita, which probably means it’s a success.”

Sekforde Raspberry, Rose and Sage Soda

Pairing: Gin or vodka

Our panel said:

“Very earthy, with a herbal dryness; smells like a plant. With vodka, lots of lemon notes emerge.”

“The sage is very over-powering.”


London Essence Company Pomelo and Pink Pepper Tonic Water

Pairing: Juniper heavy gin

Our panel said:

“Tastes more like a soda than a tonic. Balances well with a gin that I actually didn’t like.”

London Essence Company Grapefruit and Rosemary Tonic Water

Pairing: Gin

Our panel said:

“Really tart. The rosemary isn’t really coming through.”

“Very fizzy. Kind of masks the taste of the gin, but has a very refreshing, interesting taste.”

Merchant Heart Hibiscus Tonic Water

Pairing: Citrus gin, vermouth and white rum

Our panel said:

“Slightly sweet for a tonic; it takes the edge off the dryness.”

Ginger Ale

Fever Tree Spiced Orange Ginger Ale

Pairing: Cognacs and rum

Our panel said:

“Very raw ginger taste. Quite a thin mouthfeel, and the orange is very subtle. Didn’t love with rum, but really works with the cognac. Smooth and brings out the barrel notes.”


Coca Cola Smoky Signature Mixer

Pairing: Rum or bourbon

Our panel said:

“Smells like a charred whisky barrel, with a hint of something sweet. Really enhances the caramel and vanilla of the bourbon.”


Double Dutch Pomegranate & Basil

Pairing: Brandy and other dark spirits

Our panel said:

“Quite challenging to drink neat, but intriguing. I don’t actually like brandy, but this made it taste better.”

“Slightly savoury. Really brings out the coconut notes of the spirit when mixed.”

Nix & Kix Sparkling Raspberry Rhubarb With Cayenne

Pairing: Open choice

Our panel said:

“More of a robust flavour than expected. Not too sweet. The cayenne feels like a red herring though.”

Interested in finding out more about what this might mean for you and your business?

Please contact us at or 0207 101 3939