RSS Feeds

Advanced search

You are in:

Guest Columns

Make mine a mixer

While premium mixers have become the all-important enhancer for premium spirit drinks, we should not underestimate their stand alone appeal to Generation Abstemious, says creative director Mary Lewis

Mary Lewis Lewis Moberly

'Fever Tree fizzes as it upgrades full year expectations once more’. Another bubbly statement from a company that is now worth £2bn+; more than its 170-year old rival Britvic, more than the UK arm of Domino’s Pizza, and about three times as much as Debenhams store chain. Cunningly hitching a ride on the growth of premium gins and with new additions to the portfolio looking to do the same, with dark spirits, Fever Tree has pioneered the premium mixer market.

Since inception, the brand has made a conscious decision to tell engaging stories about sourcing the highest quality ingredients and their specific provenances. Quinine had the founders braving the war torn Rwanda Congo border, while marigold extract and bitter orange come from exotic Tanzania.

Consumers have fallen for passion, a tale of discovery and daring, for named individuals versus corporate giants, for premium over commodity, and strong design.

As new premium gins have experimented with more unusual combinations of botanicals, Fever Tree has extended to create optimal mixers. For example, all gins must contain juniper but those that focus on citrus are best matched by Fever Tree Mediterranean Tonic. More floral gins are complemented by the brand’s Elderflower Tonic. All this raises the perceived craft and know-how in making the perfect G&T, and justifies a premium price.

Fever Tree has paved the way for other mixer brands. Backed indirectly by Britivic, The London Essence Company is playing catch up. They have launched three tonic flavours: Classic London, Grapefruit & Rosemary, Bitter Orange & Elderflower and a ginger ale. The brand allies itself to the spirit world by referencing how they distil and craft botanicals and 'specialise  in the art and alchemy of taste’. 

The products have been described as light and complex, with good bitterness in the Classic tonic and Grapefruit and a subtle sweetness in the Bitter Orange & Elderflower. With only a small amount of sugar, and some stevia too, these also tick the ‘light’ box.

The inclusion of 'London’ in the brand name nods to the many gins that allude to the city, either as a provenance or as a style of distilling gin. Apparently the Classic London version is ideal for traditional style London Dry gin, bringing its own juniper character to the table. 

Another new player in the mixers market is Sekforde Botanical, three mixers created to be respectively paired with gin, rum or whisky. Tapping into the wellness phenomenon, the mixers are blended from spring water, contain less that 50% sugar than regular mixers, no artificial flavours or preservatives. The botanicals include lime, mint, sage and rose (for mixing with rum), orange, rosemary and gentian (whisky) and raspberry, rose and sage (gin). The botanical stories parallel those told by gin brands, lending a hint of familiarity and credibility to drinkers.

While the main spin on these new mixers is the enhancement of premium spirit drinking, we should not underestimate their stand alone appeal to Generation Abstemious. The proportion of 16-24-year-olds who do not drink increased by more than 40 per cent between 2005 and 2013. Today, one in five is teetotal. Design has made these mixers look premium, authentic and adult.  ‘Make mine a mixer’ has a ring of confidence for a new generation.

21 July 2017