Taking some time away from drinking, whether a week, a month, a year or more, has become more common in recent years. But it’s not just the lack of booze that drinkers find they miss during these bouts of liquor-free living; it’s also the complexity of flavor that boozy beverages provide: an ideal balance of bitterness, acidity, sweetness and heat that soda, juice and water all lack. Coffee and tea may fill the bill in the morning, but the evening hours demand a different jolt.
A simple juniper syrup can be made ahead of time and quickly mixed into a beverage that quietly echoes the sweet and bitter comfort of a Gin & Tonic. Juniper berries provide herbal resinous heat, while lemon peels—pith included!—add acidity and slight bitterness.
If you’re mixing up a second version of the drink for those who haven’t sworn off the sauce, make the drink with sparkling wine instead of tonic. Just be sure to garnish the alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks differently so that you can keep them straight.
- 2 ounces juniper syrup*
- 1 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 4 ounces high-quality tonic water (such as Fentimans)
- Garnish: lemon wheel
Add the juniper syrup and lemon juice into a Collins glass filled with ice.
Top with the tonic water and stir briefly to combine.
Garnish with a lemon wheel.
*Juniper syrup: In a heatproof bowl, add the peel and pith of 1 large lemon, 2 tablespoons juniper berries, lightly crushed, and a pinch of loose black tea. In a small saucepan, bring 2 1/2 cups water to a boil, then pour over the lemon peel mixture and let sit 15 minutes to infuse. Strain the infused water in a measuring cup, and return 2 cups of the mixture to the saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 cup demerara sugar and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely before using. Will keep refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.