Lydia MacDougal /Demand Media

Alcohol isn’t always the easiest drink to stomach, especially when taken on its own as a shot, or even when served neat on the rocks. That’s when it makes sense to find the right alcohol chaser combinations that work to take away the harsh taste of a solo shot or swig – without killing that boozy buzz.

Chaser 101: Chase Away the Taste

Wondering exactly what a chaser is? A chaser is a drink taken immediately after swilling a sip or a shot – or several of shots – of hard liquor. Chasers are meant to neutralize the taste of straight alcohol so that it doesn’t burn quite as badly going down. Take a look into the best chasers for vodka and the other best liquor mixes to take the pain out of swilling, sipping or taking a straight shot of alcohol.

Pick the Perfect Pairing

The most common reason for a chaser is to eliminate that straight alcohol taste. Make the most of a mixer by choosing the best fit for specific hard liquors. Tonic, for example, acts as a hint of bitterness that is great for gin or vodka. Sparkling or seltzer water is a refreshing way to tone down a heavier drink and is also a great way to make a light cocktail when paired with vodka or tequila.

Juices for Sweet Success

Tequila also works well with grapefruit juice or soda, a pinch of salt and a lime wedge. Orange juice is a classic pairing with gin, vodka or rum. Opt for fresh-squeezed orange juice for a healthier take that’s also lower in sugar. Grapefruit juice with its sharp taste neutralizes the florals of gin, and also goes great with rum or tequila. Lime juice, the main ingredient in sour mix, is a chaser that works with nearly all types of hard liquor.

Working With Whiskey

According to Drew Breen, bar manager at Jianna restaurant in Greenville, South Carolina, whiskey with its “cool, soft and sweet profile” is great for blending with honey, lemon and yellow chartreuse. Ginger ales or ginger beers are the best fit with bourbon and whiskey. Ginger ale tends to be a bit sweet, while ginger beer has a spicy edge. Pickle juice is another surprisingly good chaser to sip right after a shot of whiskey.

Take the Vice Out of Vodka

The versatility of vodka, a liquor that’s essentially tasteless, means it can be paired with almost any chaser combination. Orange juice is a classic juice, but any fruit juice works equally as well, like pineapple or cranberry juices. Vodka can also be chased with a sip of iced tea, a shot of espresso or even water with lemon or lime.

Go Green for a Great Shot

For those leading healthy (or healthier) lifestyles, consider using a green juice or smoothie as a chaser after any clear hard liquor, such as vodka, gin or tequila. Celery, cucumber, spinach, kale combined with ginger and/or lemon can add a healthy kick, and the taste of the chaser will immediately mask the flavor of the liquor.

Pick the perfect poison for your palate by choosing a chaser combination that works best with the alcohol hard liquor on the menu. A good rule of thumb is that clear spirits like vodka, gin and tequila can and do go well with a wide range of versatile chaser combinations, whereas darker spirits such as rums, whiskeys and bourbons tend to stick best with the sweetness of tropical fruit juices, colas and ginger beers or sodas. Find the right fit that says cheers to chasers!