As cocktails are becoming more popular and consumers more educated, customers are requesting more complex concoctions with unique ingredients. To keep up with the demand of presenting new and inventive cocktails, some bars and bartenders have incorporated pre-made products, made with distinctive ingredients, into their bar programs, like high-quality, pre-made juices and mixers. These are appealing to bars and restaurants because they offer a consistency not only in the cocktail but also in price.
If you’ve ever tried juicing a lot of limes or lemons, you know that each lime/lemon does not produce the same quantity of juice. The inconsistency means the cocktail you’re making can vary drastically if citrus is a major component.
Having pre-made products doesn’t necessarily mean lower quality of the product, which has been the deterrent in years past. There’s a big difference in tartness between fresh-squeezed citrus and juice that has been rested for any period of time. There are a lot of studies done on the varying times to rest citrus before it is optimal for certain cocktails. There is no set rule, but more so an ongoing discussion with preference between more well-respected bartenders.
Both May Be Best
Having pre-mixed mixers are very often used out of necessity even by those who believe that fresh is best. Bartenders in fast-paced restaurants will often be seen squeezing fresh juice during the slower periods throughout the evening but when they are in peak service and have multiple orders in front of them, they will switch to the pre-juiced for cocktails and drinks that are not citrus forward. For example, a Corpse Reviver 2, in my mind, requires the tartness of fresh-squeezed juice. Therefore, even when the bar is at its peak, I will not resort to the pre-mixed, as over time it rests the citrus, soaks in oxygen and loses that “tart punch” sometimes required.
There are now several pre-mixed mix brands that cater to the bartender and specialize in fresh juices for bars and restaurants. These products aim to be not only high in quality but also make bar programs more efficient. Some of the benefits include increased volume, decreased labor costs and ingredient costs, and increased consistency in cocktails and price. Two examples of pre-mix brands that are upping the game are Ripe Bar Juice and the American Juice Company.
Ripe Bar Juices, sold mainly to liquor and grocery stores (including Whole Foods), offer five “100% natural” cold-pressed cocktail juices, including Agave Margarita, San Marzano Bloody Mary, Agave Lemon Sour, Agave Mojito, and Agave Punch.
Batch to Bar
The American Juice Company, with clients like Danny Meyer's North End Grill and Daniel Bould's Daniel, makes a Lady Lychee juice that is featured in the Lychee Rose cocktail at the MObar in New York City's Mandarin Oriental.
We recently interviewed MObar’s Sommelier and Beverage Manager, Julie Van Zant, about MObar's concept and how she came to use pre-made mixers and juicers. See the cocktail recipe and interview below:
- 1 ½ oz Greenhook Gin
- ½ oz Lemon Juice
- 1 oz Lady Lychee Juice
- Top with Prosecco
Combine gin, lemon juice, and Lady Lychee Juice in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake. Strain into a Champagne flute, and top with Prosecco. Garnish with a mint leaf and enjoy.
5 Questions With MObar's Julie Van Zont
Foodable: Tell us about the MObar concept.
Julie Van Zant: Discreetly tucked away on Mandarin Oriental New York’s 35th Floor, MObar is one of New York City’s best-kept secrets, and with the hotel’s interesting array of high-profile guests, one never knows who one may see. Designed by Tony Chi, this intimate and chic space features a tooled nickel-and-silver bar inspired by detailed designs of New York apartments from the 1930s and 1940s. Buttery leather lounge banquets and decorative stone motifs are other design features that help to make MObar one of the city’s distinctive hot spots.
Foodable: Can you describe the bar menu?
JVZ: In addition to Manhattan classics presented in a contemporary way, MObar offers a wide selection of seasonal cocktail infusions, guests’ favorites from our cocktail history, and fine wines by the glass.
Foodable: How did you start working with the American Juice Company?
JVZ: I was approached by American Juice Company’s Founder, Christopher Wirth, and the two of us sat down together in our Lobby Lounge to taste through his products. I knew his juice could be a great fit for Mandarin Oriental, New York because we aim to feature local businesses whenever possible. We also highlight the freshest ingredients and present our cocktails in a creative way, so the American Juice Company was a perfect fit.
Foodable: What are the benefits of a bar/hotel bar making cocktails with pre-made products?
JVZ: I love its convenience. When creating cocktails, you can be forced to sacrifice the quality of the drink by using manufactured mixers or putting in hours in the kitchen creating homemade syrups to elevate your beverages. With the Lady Lychee Juice we use in our cocktails, I’m incorporating a quality product into our offerings that has the uniqueness and charm of a homemade juice.
Foodable: How did you come up with the Lady Lychee cocktail?
JVZ: Our menu is unique and represents the Mandarin Oriental New York’s values by highlighting luxurious spirits that are worldly while always embracing our Oriental heritage. I was immediately drawn to the flavors of lychee and rose in The Lady Lychee because they have an Asian flair to them. I combined the juice with Greenhook Gin from Brooklyn, a splash of lemon juice and prosecco. Much like the classic French75 cocktail, I chose to serve the drink in a flute.
Are you looking for a way to make your cocktails more consistent? Try a high-quality pre-made juice to add fun cocktails to your menu without increasing labor costs or ingredient costs and increase consistency.