Tired of fruit juice and club soda? Looking to upgrade your Shirley Temple? Alcohol-free cocktails have become very popular lately, and mixologists across the country are shaking up the image of the “mocktail,” keeping up with demand from patrons with a healthy respect for sobriety and a desire to sip a sophisticated drink.
Bottom Line Personal asked four drink experts to share their favorite no-alcohol cocktail recipes. They concurred that a well-crafted mocktail can offer complexities of flavor that make it well worth sipping and lingering over conversation—no alcohol needed.
From Danny Shapiro, managing partner, Scofflaw Group bar collective, and managing director, The Moonlighter, Chicago…
We tried many potential “signature” mocktails before declaring a winner for our new spot, The Moonlighter. This one started as a variation on verdita—a chilled shot of puréed fruit, veggies and herbs that’s often served alongside shots of tequila. We finally arrived at this tasty, complex, unique drink.
1 cup pineapple juice
½ cup fresh-squeezed lime juice
½ cup simple syrup
½ large cucumber
10 fresh mint leaves
2 to 3 jalapeños, according to your taste, seeded and chopped
½ cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup guava nectar
1 cup kiwi purée (three or four kiwis)
Put the pineapple juice and lime juice, simple syrup, cucumber, mint leaves, jalapeños, cilantro and salt in a blender, and process until smooth. Pour the mixture into a pitcher or large glass jar. Stir in the guava nectar and kiwi purée. Cover and refrigerate until chilled—the drink keeps for up to a week. To serve, pour into tall glasses and add ice. Makes six drinks.
From Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN, nutrition expert and author of Eating in Color and host of The Milk & Honey Kitchen with Frances on YouTube…
I especially enjoy booze-free drinks that balance bitter or spicy with sweet. For this drink, you’ll first make a syrup concentrate—this takes a little preparation, but you can then keep the syrup in a refrigerator for a few weeks and easily make a drink whenever you want.
For the syrup…
1 cup diced rhubarb (from about two stalks)
1 ripe plum, pitted and sliced into wedges
1 cup honey or light agave nectar
1¼ cups water
For each drink…
½ cup chilled sparkling water
In a medium saucepan, combine all the syrup ingredients and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce to a simmer, and cook until there’s a bright red syrup and the fruit has fallen apart, about five minutes.
Pour the syrup through a fine-mesh strainer, collecting the syrup in a bowl below. (The fruit can be discarded or eaten.) Allow the syrup to cool, then transfer it to a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate.
To make the drink: Pour one-quarter cup syrup into a champagne flute, then slowly pour sparkling water over the syrup. Makes eight drinks.
RIKKI “TIKI” TAVI
From Mary Rich, executive producer, Spirit Savvy, a craft cocktail event company, Asheville, North Carolina…
I’ve learned a lot about combining flavors from working with wineries and distilleries around the country. To me, one sign of a great bartender is that he/she can craft a perfect mocktail. I like making orgeat—pronounced “or-zha”—for use in mocktails. This classic cocktail syrup is widely used in many tropical “tiki” drinks. It imparts a wonderful depth and richness when mixed with citrus.
For the orgeat syrup…
1 cup raw almonds
3 cups hot water
For the drink…
2 ounces orgeat syrup
3 ounces water
1 ounce fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 orange blossom flower, thin orange slice or thin lemon slice, for garnish
Put the almonds in a bowl with enough cold water to cover. Let soak 30 minutes. Drain well, and place the almonds in a blender. Bring three cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Once it has cooled slightly, add the water to the blender and process until the nuts are coarsely ground.
Line a large strainer with several layers of cheesecloth, and place it over a deep bowl. Slowly pour the almond mixture through the cheesecloth so that the nut milk drips through and is collected in the bowl beneath. After the nut milk drains for a minute, press down on the ground almonds to extract the last bit of liquid. Pour the nut milk back into the blender, then add an equal amount of sugar and blend. Let cool, then pour the mixture into a jar, cover and refrigerate until well-chilled. It can be kept for up to a month.
To make the drink: Combine the orgeat syrup, water and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker with ice. Cover, and shake until chilled. Strain into a Collins glass filled with ice. Garnish as desired. Makes eight drinks.
From Dianna Sanders, beverage director, The Promontory restaurant, Chicago…
What I love about this mocktail is that it’s subtly smoky and just sweet enough. Also, the coconut milk gives it a silky texture. It definitely has an island vibe. The drink capitalizes on our restaurant’s live-fire hearth to create smoked pineapple juice, but I’ve adapted the recipe to give you almost the same effect at home. The process is a bit labor-intensive but worth it!
2¼ cups chilled coconut water
½ cup canned coconut milk
½ cup smoked pineapple juice (see below)
½ cup pineapple juice
½ cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
½ cup simple syrup
¼ cup fresh-squeezed lime juice
Grilled pineapple wedge and lime slice, for garnish
To make smoked pineapple juice: Prepare a charcoal grill for indirect heat by placing a small pile of charcoal on one side of the grill. Place about a dozen one-inch-thick pineapple slices on a grill rack on the opposite side of the coals. Once the coals are glowing red, drop a handful of wood chips on top of the coals, and close the lid. Allow about 15 minutes for cooking/smoking, flip the slices, then allow about another 15 minutes—the pineapple slices should be marked on both sides. Remove them from the grill, and transfer them to a bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let cool completely. Once cool, uncover and press down firmly on the pineapple using a potato masher or squeeze by hand and collect the juice.
To make the drink: Pour all the ingredients over ice in a cocktail shaker, and shake well. Strain into a highball glass filled with ice, and garnish with pineapple and lime. Makes eight drinks.