They’ve been created by some of the world’s leading bartenders to top with premium dark spirits. Sam Wylie-Harris gives them a whirl.
Coca-Cola is championing the craft cocktail movement with the launch of its new Signature Mixers.
As the slogan goes: ‘Things Go Better with Coke’ – and now they really do.
Few drinks come close to the refreshing qualities of a rum and coke, aka the Cuba Libre.
And with the boom in premium dark spirits, the world’s number one mixer has upped the ante by enlisting some star bartenders to create four new Coca-Cola mixers, all aimed at pairing with whiskey, dark rum, aged tequila and even cognac.
And who better to host a flavour masterclass than Max Venning of Bar Three and Three Sheets London? Winner of Bartender of the Year at CLASS Bar Awards 2019, Venning has created one of the Coca-Cola Signature Mixers: Smoky Notes.
To see how they tasted for myself, I headed to Mark’s Bar HIX Soho where ‘cocktails are king’ to join the mixer party…
So what are they?
Four mixers styled in a contemporary version of the Hutchinson glass bottle, which predates the brand’s famous contour bottle. Each mixer is stamped with the signature of the bartender who helped create the flavour profile.
The Coca-Cola Signature mixers range includes: 01 Smoky Notes, 02 Spicy Notes, 03 Herbal Notes and 04 Woody Notes.
Are they supposed to taste like ‘It’s the Real Thing’?
“When the bartenders came together, we decided that we didn’t want to move too far away from Coke as a flavour, because it’s so recognisable, one of the most recognisable flavours in the world,” says Venning.
“So the idea of each one is they move in different directions, and they all have something for everyone, but with the inherent backbone of Coca-Cola.”
“It’s really important to us that’s the main flavour of the drink, but with the addition of some top notes to pull out the flavours of the dark spirit,” he adds.
What do they taste like in cocktails?
First up was Bulleit Bourbon (a Kentucky whisky) topped with Venning’s 01 Smoky Notes which tasted rich and round with vanilla, spicy notes and subtle smoky hints. Beautifully balanced and a real crowd pleaser.
02 Spicy Notes is co-created by Adriana Chia of the Antigua Compañia de Las Indias in Barcelona and Pippa Guy of the Savoy’s American Bar in London. Don Julio Reposado Tequila married beautifully with this one’s ginger and spicy jalapeno notes, with some fiery chilli heat on the finish.
03 Herbal, created by Antonio Nevares of Dr Stravinsky, Barcelona, collided beautifully with Kinahan’s Irish Whiskey and tasted bright and fresh with a mild, minty floral note.
04 Woody Notes by Alex Lawrence, group bar manager, Lyan Bars and former head bartender, Dandelyan, The Mondrian, London was a big hit with Pampero Rum for its complexity, with patchouli and citrusy yuzu making themselves known.
Our verdict: The beauty of Coca-Cola is that it’s such a familiar taste, yet it’s hard to define. All four mixers share Coca-Cola’s DNA and enhanced each of the dark spirits in all the right ways. It’s Coca-Cola as you know it, but with a slight twist on the tail.
A fellow taster said: “A brilliant idea, very clever, none of them tasted too sweet but with the signature thread of Coke running through.”
Coca-Cola Signature Mixers are priced at £1.50, 20cl bottle, available from Waitrose (in-store only), Marks & Spencer and Ocado from June 10.