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Stocking bar mixers

There are basically three purchasing options when it comes to buying bar mixers: generic mixes (the cheapest); high-quality branded products (moderate); and house-made versions using fresh ingredients (most expensive). If you go the generic route, you’re betting you can price your drinks low and profit from high volume. Buy mixers in bulk and break down into bar-sized containers; store the remainder in a cool, dry, dark place. But before you buy in quantity, test mixers using the same proportions, liquors, ice and garnishes that you normally use.

There are basically three purchasing options when it comes to buying bar mixers: generic mixes (the cheapest); high-quality branded products (moderate); and house-made versions using fresh ingredients (most expensive). If you go the generic route, you’re betting you can price your drinks low and profit from high volume. Buy mixers in bulk and break down into bar-sized containers; store the remainder in a cool, dry, dark place. But before you buy in quantity, test mixers using the same proportions, liquors, ice and garnishes that you normally use. A bargain isn’t a bargain if no one will drink it. And you don’t want to turn off patrons just to save a few cents.

Taste is the reason most operators trade up—but it’s not the only benefit. “Good mixers contain better quality ingredients,” says Billy Boswell, director of foodservice marketing at McIlhenny, which makes Tabasco Bloody Mary Mix. “Our mix has fresh lime juice and lots of tomato solids, but no preservatives or stabilizers,” he notes.

Plus, it’s the only one that has Tabasco-brand hot sauce, which most Bloody Mary aficionados consider essential.” McIlhenny also makes an Extra Spicy version with fresh horseradish and even more hot sauce.
Perhaps the most important advantage to purchasing branded mixers is manufacturer support. Operators can access recipes, serving tips and POS materials. “The big companies also help anticipate trends,” says Boswell. A recent one he cites is the use of fresh vegetables in drinks, like the cucumber puree starring in One Hot Minute, the winner in Tabasco’s Hottest Bartender’s Contest.

Another company getting a jump on trends is Ocean Spray, with its new diet juice drinks. The two flavors, Cranberry Spray and Orange Citrus Spray, are available in 1-liter plastic bottles and single-serve sizes. At only 5 calories per 8-ounce serving, bartenders can make a tasty Cosmopolitan while trimming over 100 calories from the classic recipe.

Now standard in Ocean Spray’s mixer line is its patented BarPac packaging. The bottles fit neatly in the bar well—just unscrew the cap, add a speed spout and pour. BarPac mixers come in six varieties, including sour mix, orange juice and pineapple juice, sold 12/32-ounce bottles per case.

In general, mixers can be purchased in three forms. Powdered mixes are the least expensive and store well, but have to be reconstituted before use. Concentrates are sold in bottles, cans and aseptic containers; they must be blended with water for service. Ready-to-use mixers are available in bar-ready bottles, but they can be costly. Multi-purposing can save you money; buy one mixer that can be used in several cocktails.

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