Creative Non-alcoholic Beverages

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What Are Some Creative Cocktails for Non-Drinkers?
                      Liquid Architecture's alcohol-free wild raspberry mojito
Liquid Architecture’s alcohol-free wild raspberry mojito
Photo: Courtesy of Liquid Architecture

Nonalcoholic drinks run the gamut from ascetic beverages (seltzer with a lemon slice) to cloyingly sweet concoctions more suited for kids (virgin daiquiris, Shirley Temple-like “mocktails”). To offer non-drinking guests something fun yet appropriate, cocktail experts suggest looking to the produce section for inspiration. “The biggest trend [right now] is fresh ingredients,” says Kim Haasarud, founder of Liquid Architecture, a California-based beverage consultancy that has designed signature drinks for Maxim and Armani Exchange. “Some popular ingredients I see across the U.S. include pomegranate, Concord grape, pear, grapefruit, blood orange, and herbs like sage, rosemary, basil, and cilantro.”

Tony Abou-Ganim, the self-dubbed Modern Mixologist, suggests a wild-berry mojito made with fresh fruit and mint. In a 12-ounce glass, muddle 8 to 12 mint leaves, one-and-a-half ounces of mint syrup, a handful of mixed berries, and the juice of one lime. Fill the glass with crushed ice and stir until it is reduced by a third. Spritz with soda water and stir.

Puns aside, tea continues to be a big drink trend for teetotalers—not served steaming hot or straight up over ice, but mixed like a cocktail with other nonalcoholic mixers. Award-winning mixologist Lucy Brennen, author of Hip Sips and owner of the Portland, Oregon-based restaurant Mint and an adjacent cocktail lounge called 820, says she uses a variety of teas, including jasmine and lemongrass, as a base for drinks. Haasarud makes a hibiscus soda by filling a glass with two ounces of hibiscus syrup (one part tea combined with one part sugar) and topping it off with soda water and a lime wedge.

Alcohol-free wine has gotten a bad rap, but Dale DeGroff, a leading cocktail expert and author of The Craft of the Cocktail, says it’s not all terrible. “There are quality nonalcoholic wine products on the market from Arial and Sutter Home. Some of them can stand alone as a wine substitute, and others make a wonderful base for nonalcoholic cocktails,” he says. For another interesting mixer, Haasarud suggests experimenting with syrups (she recommends the Monin and Amoretti brands) or making your own syrup by mixing alcohol and sugar and bringing the mixture to a boil, which will burn off the alcohol and create a nonalcoholic syrup with the flavors of the original spirit.

For something more traditional, perhaps to serve with a menu of classic cocktails, DeGroff suggests a lime rickey—the “drinking man’s nonalcoholic drink.” In a tall glass, combine three quarters of an ounce of lime juice with one ounce of simple syrup and top it with club soda; garnish with a lime peel.  —Lisa Cericola



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