This week we’re both busy with real life intruding on our fabulous lives of being jet-setting booze bloggers. 😉 So we decided to throw up a quick post on some fresh juice substitutes that we occasionally use to get from thirsty to cocktail as quickly as possible. Read on to find out how we sometimes fake it to make it.
In case it isn’t obvious, we tend to be pretty hardcore about always using fresh fruit juice. When we started this obsessive booze odyssey we were more than happy to compromise on this front, because quite frankly we didn’t know any better. However, after several years of experimentation, we’ve come to realize that there really is no comparison between fresh squeezed fruit juice and canned juice, especially with regards to citrus.
As far as citrus goes, bottled orange and grapefruit juice is OK, though fresh is much nicer. Not so with lemon and lime. We all know about the little plastic limes and lemons in the grocery store, and we’ve seen hippy-dippy all natural (picked while chanting mantras!) equivalents. However in our opinions, none of them work as a substitute. The acidity is way off, the flavor is, well, not nice and most importantly you’re missing out on all of the lovely peel oils. This latter is of extra importance in the case of lime, you just don’t get the lovely floral perfume notes without it. Our feeling is that it’s better to find another cocktail to make than substitute processed lemon or lime juice. Though if you know of any good substitutes please let us know, that is the whole point of this post after all. 😀
That said, there are some prepared juices and mixers we’ll use either because the fresh ingredient is rarely available or because it requires a lot of work to prepare it and we just don’t have the time on your average weekday night.
Lakewood Organic Pineapple Juice
First up, pineapple juice. If you’ve ever juiced a pineapple it’s a lot of work. Cutting it up, removing all the pokey bits, letting it drain. You just have to take a zen like approach to it. However on those days when either we forgot to pick up a pineapple or our type A personalities are smacking around our zen we’ve found a reasonable substitute. Lakewood Organic Pineapple juice. Now mind you it isn’t perfect. The acidity is lower than fresh so you’ll want to adjust for that. But overall the flavor is good and it keeps for a really long time in the fridge. One of the big reasons it works as a substitute is that this juice isn’t from concentrate. If you are going to use bottled pre-packaged juice look for that important distinction. Shaun used to work at a fruit processing plant during his college summers and the way juice concentrate is made is a miracle of modern chemistry. You really don’t want to be drinking it. But hey if you enjoy drinking extracted essences mixed with heavily processed water, more power to you. 🙂
Next up are Fruitations. We were sent some samples a while back (See our samples policy) and were a little skeptical. Boy were we wrong. The cranberry and grapefruit are both great substitutes. The cranberry one is exceptionally nice as the season is somewhat short and keeping large bottles of cranberry syrup in the fridge is somewhat of a pain. We need that room for the brandied cherries, orgeat, falernum, vermouth, etc. 🙂 The tangerine one is ok, the peel bitterness is a little overwhelming so you’ll need to adjust for that, but it works reasonably nicely in a pinch. These are definitely worth having around if you’re just not up for juicing or it’s out of season.
We’ve recommended Perfect Puree‘s in the past. They really are the best passion fruit and guava juices we’ve found. However their cranberry, pomegranate, tangerine and blood orange (though the citrus ones suffer from the same peel imbalance as the Fruitations) are all delicious, with really fresh, true flavor (despite some of them being concentrates, though we’re guessing these are made differently). They are a little pricey, but they do go a long way. It usually takes us several months to get through one container. Their coconut is pretty good also, though it is pre-sweetened so be prepared for that. We plan on trying some of their zests next to see if we can frankenstein up a lemon juice substitute.
Cocktail Crate Mixers
Although technically not a juice substitute, we’ve found Cocktail Crate mixers to be nice to have around on those days when we want to go really easy on ourselves. We got these as a sample as well (Samples Policy). If we’re skeptical of prepackaged juice, you can only imagine how we are with regards to prepackaged mixers. Gross usually is an understatement when it comes to every pre-made mixer we’ve tried. However the Cocktail Crate mixers are actually pretty tasty, and don’t use scary things like high-fructose corn syrup. We tried the Sriracha Margarita, which has a good spicy bite and is pretty well-balanced, and the Ginger Bee, which is a little sweet for our tastes but has good ginger flavor. That one is improved by the addition of fresh lemon or lime juice. If we have the time and energy, we’ll choose fresh made over a mixer, however these are a reasonable alternative when you want something quick and simple. They’re also great for traveling or gourmet car camping (what do you mean you don’t want to take a portable bar with you everywhere you go? 😉 ) Throw a couple of these in your checked luggage or your cooler, add booze and ice and you are ready to drink.
Overall, we still prefer freshly prepared ingredients, but sometimes that’s just not convenient or even possible. Even if you’re as obsessive as we are about drinking good booze and cocktails, it’s always nice to have a few “cheats” in your back pocket when you need them. If you know of any other good juice substitutes or just good pre-prepared cocktail ingredients, do let us know. Our fridges and cupboards have a few nooks and crannies that we can always squeeze a few more things into. Cheers!