With the weather
warming up unbearable hot and swampy, outdoor entertaining is in full swing here. Of course, we've bypassed Spring entirely and have transitioned straight into summer from one of the mildest winters I can ever remember. People are firing up their grills (we pulled two grilling nights in a row here just last week), lounging by the pool, and enjoying this weather until the oppressive Alabama heat comes in and smothers us all for three months in sticky, energy-zapping humidity. Which definitely calls for a drink.
Sweet & Sour Mix, also known as Sour Mix, Collins Mix or even Margarita Mix, is a classic mixer that shows up in a plethora of mixed drinks (here's almost 200 drinks that use it). Unfortunately, a lot of people take the shortcut of buying premade mix from the store.
Anytime you order a whiskey sour or a margarita at a high-volume bar (like the ones in chain restaurants), you're almost definitely getting a drink made with premade, storebought mix, filled with HFCS, artificial flavors and colors (some brand look like they'd glow in the dark!), and preservatives. However, making your own mix is so absurdly easy, and you WILL be able to taste the difference.
So, if it's so easy to make at home, why do people buy premade? Well, there is a difference in cost. Fresh lemons and limes cost more than the bottled juice. Which they should, since they taste better, as well (I like to buy my lemons and limes at a local Hispanic market; their prices are about 1/2 of most grocery stores, and the quality is top notch). Also, making homemade sour mix takes time. You have to make the simple syrup, and wait for it to cool. It's not difficult, but does take time, especially if you're in a rush.
Luckily, this homemade mix can be made ahead of time, and kept in the fridge for about a week.
Think of homemade sweet and sour mix like you would chicken broth. Or spaghetti sauce. Or any sauce. Sure, you COULD buy canned/jarred versions, but we all know that homemade tastes better.
Sweet & Sour Mix
adapted from Bon Appetit
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2/3 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
2/3 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice
Combine the sugar and water in saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, and let cool.
Stir in the lemon juice and lime juice. Give it a good swish to combine, then chill until COLD. Can be made up to a week ahead of time.
*If you need more mix, the quantities are easily adapted. Just remember that the sugar and water should ALWAYS be in equal amounts, and that each of the juices is 2/3 of the amount of the sugar or water. (For 1 cup sugar or water, use 2/3 cup lemon and 2/3 cup lime juice. For 2 cups sugar or water, use 1 1/3 cups lemon and 1 1/3 cups lime juice. For 3 cups sugar or water, use 2 cups lemon and 2 cups lime juice.)*
Now that you have homemade mix, make yourself a nice margarita. Me? I'll be over here keeping scurvy at bay with a nice Midori sour.