It all started innocently enough at the grocery store. Although my Kroger carries a moderate selection of wine and spirits, I rarely shop for those items there.
Still, I was very confused one day when, in the hunt for sweet & sour mix, I couldn’t find any (and ditto for the department’s one employee, natch — the blonde with the short hair — the weekend “wine steward,” the one who rolls her eyes when I ask where the Boone’s Farm is. She’s conveniently no where to be found and the main customer service desk has two double lines snaking around the lobby).
Exasperation set in. Who carries 22 kinds of de Kuyper liqueurs but no sweet & sour mix?
Turns out, sweet & sour mix is sold alllll the way at the other end of this ginormous store, with the club sodas and seltzers, but it was unbeknownst to a very irritated me on that day. (And I wouldn’t learn it until weeks later, when a search for grenadine finally uncovered the stash of sweet & sour mixes.)
But, what did happen that day, serendipitously, was me stocking up on citrus fruits.
Lots of lemons, limes and the season’s amazing oranges. Earmarked for nothing in particular, except maybe some zesting, some salted preserves, some small batch marmalade, and margaritas, if anything was left over (and of course I would make sure there was something left for margaritas, silly).
Later, still miffed about the sweet and sour mix, I googled same. Not sure what I was expecting, but what I got were many sites explaining how to DIY it.
Homemade sweet & sour mix? Could it be? Would it work?
I had to find out. No two sites shared the same formula, but I was willing to wing it.
So, some sugar and a few citrus carcasses later, I had me some mighty fine sweet and sour mix. No cooking, no electronics. Just a whisk. It comes together as fast as you can squeeze fruit (took me about 5 minutes with one of these things).
I can’t emphasize how fresh this stuff is. Night and day, from the cough-syrupy goo sold in bottles.
And I found myself mentally thanking Kroger — for probably the first and only time — for its nonsensical store layout. Otherwise, I might never have known the beauty of the homemade sweet and sour mix.
Oh! And about the pink color in the top photo. I had blood oranges on hand, so that’s what went in. Isn’t the color fabulous? I quickly made amaretto sour shots (also top photo) to test how the mix tasted in boozy action (fabulous, it was, just like the color).
(And then I went all “Hmmm … DIY amaretto … I wonder …” More on that tomorrow!)
DIY Sweet & Sour Mix
Prep Time:10 minutes
Yield: about 1 1/4 cups of sour mix
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 4 small lemons)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 5 small limes)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed blood orange juice (2 small-medium Moro blood oranges; off-season, substitute with regular orange juice)
1/2 cup superfine sugar (or give regular granulated sugar a quick whirl through the food processor; superfine (or bartender’s) sugar dissolves very quickly)
Place all ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until sugar is dissolved. Makes a tad over 1 1/4 cups. To adjust recipe yield up or down, just use this simple formula: 2 parts lemon juice, 2 parts lime juice, 1 part orange juice, 2 parts superfine sugar.
To alter the sweet/sour ratio, just use less or more sugar, to taste.