Not long ago, mocktails, or booze-free cocktails, were just that: too-sweet or too-sour drinks worthy of mockery. Today, though, bartenders are bringing the same precise execution and complexity of flavor to spirit-free drinks.
“We’re seeing a trend emerge that started with low-ABV cocktails,” says Naomi Levy, beverage director at Boston’s Better Sorts Social Club. “This is the next natural progression; you’re not making just flavored lemon- and limeades anymore.”
The category was also given a recent boost by a wave of new nonalcoholic “spirits” from companies such as Seedlip, which produces a series of bottled drinks flavored with things like orange peel and allspice distillates. With that in hand, mixologists are able to reproduce classics like a gin and tonic with the same textural heft and botanical bouquet, minus the morning-after headache. Combine that with the newfound trend of people going dry for a month, or alternating alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks, and it’s almost imperative to have a booze-free option at your next party. Start with one of these.
Better Sorts Social Club, Boston
3 oz oversteeped black tea
1 oz malt syrup*
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
2 dashes Regan’s Orange Bitters
Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice and mix well. Strain into a rocks glass and garnish with a lemon slice.
*Combine 1 oz barley malt extract with 3 oz hot water and stir. Mix in 4 oz granulated sugar and stir until it’s all dissolved.
Navy Strength, Seattle
1 oz Seedlip Spice
1 oz coconut water
3⁄4 oz fresh lime juice
1⁄2 oz fresh grapefruit juice
1⁄2 oz cinnamon syrup*
Shake all ingredients with ice cubes and a twist of grapefruit. Strain into a chilled coupe or Nick & Nora glass. Garnish with a grapefruit twist.
*Combine 1 cup white sugar, 4 oz hot water, and 2 cinnamon sticks. Allow to infuse for 4 hours. Add a pinch of salt, and strain out the cinnamon sticks.
Checker Hall, Los Angeles
5 mint sprigs, plus more for garnish
1⁄4 oz yuzu juice
1⁄4 oz fresh lime juice
1⁄2 oz simple syrup
In a shaker, muddle 1⁄2 cucumber and 5 mint sprigs. Add remaining ingredients and shake with ice. Strain into a glass and top with sparkling water. Garnish with a mint sprig and cucumber slices.