The Wall Street Journal's Eric Felten tries out Williams-Sonoma's new line of high-end cocktail mixes and compares them to the recipes for the same drinks in a new book called Mix Shake Stir (that I don't see on the website yet). Not surprisingly, he finds the drinks pale in comparison to the homemade versions.
But the story is an interesting read on cocktail mixers in general. First he gets sassy:
Then he tells us why citrus is so hard to bottle:
Ahh, citrus, the ingredient that ruins home cocktail mixing for everyone. How much juice is in "the juice of half a lime" anyway? I get the discount limes and there ain't much juice left in 'em. The lemons from my tree are huge and watery as opposed to the store-bought smaller tart ones.
Even if your cocktail recipe lists juice in ounces, the type of juice going in is highly variable. And if the tart/sour aspect of a drink is variable, so too must be the sweet aspect to balance it. So that's two ingredients you have to make "to taste" in each recipe.
Methinks this is why we have pre-mixed versions of the Mojito, Caipirinha, Margarita, Lemon Drop, Cosmopolitan, and Blood Orange Martini, whereas mixers for the no-citrus Manhattan and Martini aren't too popular. Maybe in cocktail books and live classes the instructors should give a lesson on balancing sour to sweet. To make many cocktails, it's not about using the perfect recipe, it's about perfecting that skill.