Have you ever wanted the taste of a finely crafted cocktail, but not the alcohol? There’s a big difference between ordering a virgin margarita or Shirley Temple at a bar and ordering a high-quality non-alcoholic cocktail. An alcohol-free cocktail can often taste as good as one loaded with booze. And it’s usually better for you.
“It’s healthier and refreshing,” says Jeff Mahin, Chef and Co-owner of Stella Barra in Chicago. “If you want the flavors of a cocktail but you either can’t or don’t want to have the effects of alcohol, then this is a great way to go.”
“The basic idea is that you want it to taste good,” says Mahin, who also owns restaurants in Bethesda, Santa Monica and Hollywood. “A cocktail can taste great but sometimes the alcohol can take away from enjoying the flavors.” Without the alcohol, the flavors from the fresh ingredients stand out more. “Also, you can do a tasting menu with a non-alcoholic beverage pairing that can really enhance the meal and not make you felt as weighed down afterwards.”
Ingredients that work well include fresh citrus, kale and other greens (used sparingly), and any seasonal, local fruit.
Here are a few outstanding alcohol-free cocktails that are worth a try:
From Lucy Restaurant & Bar in Yountville, California
.5 oz pineapple juice1.5 oz orange juice.5 oz lemon juice.5 oz simple syrup2 oz coconut water2 drops of vitamin b12
Directions: Shake the juices, simple syrup and vitamin b12. Strain into a Collins glass and top with coconut water.
From M Street Kitchen in Santa Monica, California
2.5 oz. exotic fruit juice consommé (recipe below)IceClub sodaSprite
Directions: Put fruit consommé (see below) in Collins glass, add ice and top with equal parts of club soda and Sprite.
Recipe for Exotic Fruit Juice Consommé
3 cups water½ cup sugar¼ cup agave light syrup2 tsp vanilla bean (split)¼ cup lemongrass1 tsp white cardamom1 Tbs lemon zest2 Tbs orange zestT Tbs whole black peppercorn1 2/3 cups orange juice2/3 cup lemon juice½ cup fresh passion fruit¼ cup fresh mint
Directions: Peel orange and lemon. Blanch skin and rinse under cold water. Juice orange and lemon. Combine all ingredients, excluding juices and mint, in a pot and bring to a simmer over low-medium heat. Add mint and steep for one hour. Chill overnight. Strain and add fruit juices.
Recipe courtesy of Beverage Director/Co-Owner Bryan Dayton OAK at fourteenth (Boulder) & Acorn (Denver)
2 oz aloe vera water1 ¼ oz fresh cranberry juice (no sugar)½ oz lime juice¾ oz honey syrup¼ oz cherry syrup or grenadine
Directions: Combine all ingredients and shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime wheel.
Jeff Mahin Chef/Partner of Summer House Santa Monica
1 oz. acai puree1 oz. agave nectar1 oz. lime juice2 basil leaves
Directions: Build in mixing glass. Add ice and quick shake. Pour into Collins glass, top with soda and garnish with Basil.
From Four Season Orlando
1 oz Fresh Lime Juice1 oz Simple Syrup2 Fresh StrawberriesHandful of Fresh Mint
Directions: Shake and loose strain into a Collins glass over ice. Top with ginger beer and garnish with a mint sprig.