Launched 1st May 2019 (initially for Western Europe), Coca-Cola Signature Mixers were developed with the help of leading bartenders and are designed to be mixed with dark spirits. They are essentially Classic Coca-Cola with different nuances of flavour, initially: No.1 Smoky, No.2 Spicy, No.3 Herbal and No.4 Woody. In this video we hear from Max Venning of Three Sheets and Pippa Guy of the American Bar at The Savoy, on their experience of creating a brand new Coca-Cola flavour.
Dark mixers for Dark spirits
Some misguided souls might drink vodka with their cola but Coca-Cola works best with dark spirits that have more robust flavours: Jack & Coke, Rum & Coke, Bourbon & Coke and the like. Dark mixers suit dark spirits, after all, when making an Old-Fashioned, bartenders prefer brown sugar to white sugar.
Dark spirits, particularly whisk(e)y and rum are dramatically growing in popularity and in the same way that the rise of gin brought with it an array of different tonic waters, so there's a perceived consumer need for mixers specifically designed to go with dark spirits. As Coca-Cola already dominates dark spirit mixers, it's natural that the folk at Coke have strived to meet this need by producing their Signature Mixers range.
"We not only wanted to elevate our brand but also to provide choices that pair with and enhance the drinking experience of premium dark liquors. We also realized that in order to create something super sophisticated, we needed to look outward and partner with some of the world's most innovative mixologists from across Europe in order to gain insights into what consumers really want and how we can offer the ultimate choice in the bar or at home. The sophistication and multi-layers of the flavor profile of Coca-Cola provided us many avenues to explore, enhance and experiment with."
"The foundation of the Signature Mixers project was the fact Coca-Cola pairs so well with rums and bourbons. The sophistication and multi-layers of the flavor profile of Coca-Cola provided us many avenues to explore, enhance and experiment with. The four Signature Mixers are designed to enhance certain tonalities of each premium dark spirit. They will take the drinking experience to the next level by introducing consumers to elegant and sophisticated flavor pairings, with subtle nuances that elevate taste when mixed with their favorite dark spirit."
Heather Stewart Coca-Cola Research & Development Team, Atlanta, USA
Mix with: Bourbon or aged rum
Garnish with: Orange zest twist
Co-created with: (Max Venning co-owner and bartender) Three Sheets, London, England.
Mix with: Scotch whisky, reposado/añejo tequila (& aged rum)
Garnish with: Ginger slice
Co-created with: Adriana Chía (bartender at Solange Cocktails & Luxury Spirits, Barcelona, Spain) and Pippa Guy (bartender at London's iconic The American Bar at The Savoy Hotel, London, England)
Pippa told us Coca-Cola Signature Mixers No.2 is "a variety of spice - hot from jalapeño, a more herbal spice from ginger, softened with rosemary and a citrus cut of lime. It works really well with aged tequila and we recommend garnishing with a slice of ginger for added heat. It's also great with aged rum.
"I love ginger as a flavour profile - I think its super accessible and rich and delicious and is a key flavour more and more in modern cocktails. We wanted our Signature Mixer to not just be an elevation of the Coca-Cola original taste profile but also be attractive to other people that may not already consider Coca-Cola as their preferred mixer, helping people to experiment more with dark spirits."
Mix with: Cognac or Scotch whisky
Garnish with: Basil leaf
Co-created with: Antonio Naranjo (Bar Manager at Dr. Stravinsky in Barcelona, Spain)
Mix with: Bourbon, straight rye whiskey and spiced rum.
Garnish with: Apple slice
Co-created with: Alex Lawrence (Group Bar Manager at Mr Lyan and co-founder of Porters Gin)
When asked what mixes best with his woody version of Coke, Alex told us, "Spiced rum seems to pop up a lot, but rye and bourbon do the trick for me. Jack Daniel's single barrel rye suddenly has this amazing, unexpected dry banana spice flavour when mixed with Coca-Cola Signature Mixers Woody Notes.
"Working with wood flavours was an interesting take. By utilising woody herbs, and bright citrus to highlight the flavours of the original taste of Coca-Cola was super fun! A touch of floral bitterness really helps take the liquid in a more mature direction and away from sweeter taste profiles when mixing dark spirits with original Coca-Cola to something a little more complex.
"Having lots of the classic caramel spice and complexity actually helps ensure the product is ultimately delicious but not too unfamiliar. Everyone understands the taste of Coca-Cola on a global scale so re-imagining the familiar was a really lovely starting point to ensure that, although unique, the product was accessible across the board."
Future Coca-Cola Signature Mixers
We asked Heather Stewart and Aaron Woody if during the development of these new products there were flavours which were abandoned but could be introduced later. They told us, "As part of our roles, we are always seeking new and interesting flavor combinations but for the moment, we are purely focussing on launching the first four batches of Coca-Cola Signature Mixers before planning any additional launches in this arena."
While rum and whisky were the focus for the first four Signature Mixers, what about mixers for other types of spirits such as targeting Brazil with one specifically designed for cachaca, or Mexico with one designed for tequila? Their answer was a diplomatic maybe, "Currently, we are focussing on launching the first four batches of Signature Mixers but as a total beverage company, we are constantly developing products tailored to market needs across our portfolio, which may also extend to the Signature Mixers range in the future." Watch this space...