Food & Drink

6 Quick Fixes That Will Make a Bad Drink Great

Mark Yocca / Supercall

No one likes a snob. If the drinks at a party aren’t quite up to snuff, don’t complain about them. Don’t whine about the overly sweet Manhattan you were served at a wedding or the lackluster Bloody you received at your pal’s brunch bonanza. But do feel free to fix those drinks—discreetly, of course. There are a few small bottles you can keep on hand at all times that will instantly improve drinks. Secretly stash one or two in your purse, backpack, man bag or tote, and never have a bad drink again.

Rose’s Lime Juice

While we always recommend you use real deal fresh lime juice and sugar in a Gimlet, Rose’s Lime certainly has its place in your arsenal. The sweet and tangy syrup instantly upgrades any subpar beer. The next time you roll into a backyard BBQ where the only beer choices end in “Lite,” pull the Rose’s out of your bag, pour a capful of the cordial into the can or bottle, and lightly jostle to incorporate. The resulting beverage will taste like a refreshing Shandy, and you’ll be finishing a six-pack by the end of the night.  

Angostura Bitters

If you’re ever handed a too-sweet cocktail or even a just-as-it’s-supposed-to-taste Jungle Juice, bring out your Angostura bitters and dash a few drops into the drink. You’ll turn that cloying cocktail into a nuanced drink worthy of your superior tastes.

Maggi Jugo

If your Bloody Mary or Michelada is flat and watery, just dash in some Maggi. This seasoning sauce is liquid umami. It’s great in anything from marinades to salad dressings to sauces to, of course, savory cocktails. Made with fermented wheat protein, it’s ultra meaty, slightly smoky and similar to soy sauce.

Hot Sauce

Beyonce and Hillary Clinton are doing it right. They carry hot sauce in their purses and so should you. Along with Maggi, it adds a necessary kick of flavor to wanting Micheladas and Bloody Marys, but it also works in Sours. If someone makes you an uninspired Whiskey Sour with sour mix, drop in some spice and discover a whole new world of open bar options.

Mini Bottle of St-Germain

Often referred to as bartender’s ketchup, elderflower-flavored St-Germain can cover up offensive flavors and amp up boring and bland beverages. Pour a half ounce of St-Germain into a glass of bad boxed wine, flavorless beer or even a meh Margarita.

Salt

It’s not just for Margarita rims. A sprinkle of salt (or a couple of drops of saline solution) will smooth the rough edges of an overly bitter drink, bridge the gap between sweet and sour in cocktails and generally enhance any good flavors, much like it does in cooking. Will people look at you somewhat strangely if you pull a salt packet out of your pocket and start sprinkling it into your off-balance Negroni? Sure. But those are the people who provided you with a bad Negroni. So what do you care what they think? Sprinkle away.