At a house party this writer attended a couple of years ago, the host muddled some fresh fruits in simple syrup and doled out vodka cocktails for everyone. At another house party a few weeks ago, we got ourselves some cocktail mixers in some cool flavours, a couple of different spirits, and voila, we had enough variety to keep everybody happy and high.

From Jackfruit Mojito to Jamun Kalakhatta, Darjeeling Chai Punch Mix to Coconut & Saffron and more — we were certainly spoilt for choice. In the past three years or so, the market for cocktail mixers has grown and how. Multiple factors have contributed to the growth of this category and the pandemic, too, has helped accelerate the process. According to an estimate, the market for mixers is expected to reach Rs 7,000 crore by 2030. Mumbai-based beverage company Svami Drinks was one of the early entrants in the category with their tonic water.

The four-year-old company now has 12 products in two categories: mixers and ready-to-drink, with Ginger Ale fitting into both. Aneesh Bhasin, co-founder at Svami Drinks, attributes the growth of mixers to the parallel growth of homegrown Indian spirits, especially gin, and the rise in home consumption of alcohol during the pandemic. “Pre-pandemic, 80 per cent of our revenue came from hotels and bars, but the pandemic changed that. With more people consuming alcohol at home during the lockdown, retail received a big jumpstart,” he says. Having said that, with people stepping out to wine and dine again, Bhasin states that he does see things going back to HoReCa. Currently retailing from 23 cities and servicing almost all pin codes via e-commerce, Jade Forest has been growing at a rate of 20-25 per cent every month since they launched in November 2019.

Co-founder Shuchir Suri, who is also the co-founder of Gin Explorer’s Club, realised the big shift happening in the homegrown gin space. The first two products that the company launched was Indian Tonic Water and Ginger Ale, subsequently coming out with two variants of flavoured tonic waters. “People are also getting more conscious of what they put into their bodies and with our products being low in sugar and calories, there was a demand for them during the lockdown when people could not go to bars,” he states. The fact that one can play around with flavours and come up with innovative combinations is another reason for the popularity of these mixers. Take, for instance, The Dram Club’s Blind Gilt cocktail mixers that come in unique variants such as Appletini that pairs best with vodka, Paloma with tequila, and Basil Smash that goes well with gin, among others. Sepoy & Co’s premium mixers include tonic waters in flavours such as Spiced Grapefruit, Hibiscus, Mint, and Elderflower. Jimmy’s Cocktails has seven classic flavours.

Some other popular mixer brands include MXYR, Swa Artisanal Syrups, Bengal Bay, Fever Tree, and Drinktales, among others. Ready to be poured over ice and enjoyed on their own, kombucha is another category that is emerging as a cocktail mixer. Nikhil Sood, bar manager and assistant restaurant manager at Noon, informs us that they make their own kombucha with seasonal fruits and ingredients, and so, even the kombucha cocktails at Noon keep changing. “Kombucha adds a different dimension to the drink. Unlike any other juice or syrup, it has a yeasty aftertaste, giving it a different mouthfeel and flavour. This makes it easier to pair it with white spirits such as gin, vodka, tequila, and white rum,” he says. Players in this category include companies such as Atmosphere Kombucha, HappyBooch, Bombucha, Borecha, Mountain Bee, and Toyo Kombucha, among others. If one wants to experiment further with cocktails, they can also try their hand at making cocktails with hard seltzers. With so many variants of mixers available in the market today, and with unique flavours that are enough to make you try more than one at a time, your favourite tipple now has many companions to choose from. 

We share three cocktail recipes to try at home using these mixers.

Kokam Flower By Cocktails & Dreams, Mumbai

Ingredients:

30 ml vodka

12 ml hibiscus syrup

75 ml MAVI’s Kokam Kombucha

Nick and Nora glass

Method:

Throw the ingredients together for a couple of times with ice, using a shaker 

Strain and pour contents in the Nick and Nora glass 

Garnish with grapefruit peel twist

Gin On The Beach By Yangdup Lama, Jimmy’s Cocktails

Ingredients:

45 ml vodka/gin

90 ml Jimmy’s Sex on the Beach mix

1 orange slice

1 or 2 cherries

Method:

In a tall glass, pour the vodka/gin, Jimmy’s mix, and shake well

Strain into a tall glass filled with ice

Garnish with an orange wedge and a cherry or two

Breakfast Highball By Jatin Waingankar, Svami Drinks

Ingredients:

45ml whisky

1tbsp orange marmalade

10ml lime juice

Svami Ginger Ale

Method:

In a highball glass, add the whisky, orange marmalade, and lime juice, and stir

Fill the glass with ice

Top with Svami Ginger Ale