The rise of nonalcoholic cocktails is a trend that brings a sense of relief. For a cocktail enthusiast, one of the most exciting aspects of tippling is enjoying the blend of unique flavors that typically only alcoholic ingredients can express, but consuming alcohol with any frequency isn’t the healthiest lifestyle habit.
A new wave of alternative nonalcoholic options, along with the acceptance and popularity of deciding not to drink for a night, a month or however long you choose, is a welcome change in the drinks world. And along with it comes some delicious concoctions.
For flavor seekers who still want the pleasure of a good drink but without the alcohol, alcohol-free cocktails—also frequently called mocktails or N/A or no-ABV cocktails—provide an excellent alternative option at home as well as in bars. There’s no need to sacrifice flavor and nuance any longer.
While cocktail bars are mixing up advanced mocktails using custom-made syrups, shrubs, ferments and nonalcoholic distilled spirits (such as Seedlip), home bartenders can embrace simpler applications before diving into these more complex culinary-focused drinks. To get started, these are seven easy alcohol-free cocktails to try right now.
The Mint-Basil Limeade is essentially a Mojito without the rum. Fresh mint and basil get muddled in a Collins glass with simple syrup before adding lime juice and ice and then filling the glass with a top craft soda water—Fever-Tree, Q Mixers or Topo Chico are your best options. The resulting drink is refreshing, herbal, clean and an excellent way to lift your spirits without the addition of spirits.
The bona fide classic that every preteen drinks at family parties can actually become a sophisticated sipper when made with quality ingredients. The version many of us are familiar with is typically just Sprite and cheap store-bought grenadine, making for a cloying mixture that looks pretty but doesn’t taste as nice as it looks. This recipe employs a homemade grenadine, freshly squeezed lime juice and ginger ale (and you’ll want to use a high-quality craft mixer such as the ones named above) and is balanced and delicious.
For the Gin & Tonic lover who wants a no-ABV version of their favorite drink, this nonalcoholic take on the classic cocktail omits the gin, instead using a custom juniper syrup, which is paired with tonic water and lemon. If you can’t be bothered with the homemade syrup, one of Seedlip’s nonalcoholic spirits is perfect for using in this riff.
This cocktail pulls inspiration from jaljeera, a refreshing Indian beverage that’s rich with spices and herbs. The base of the drink is usually a spice mix (cumin, black salt, ginger, mint and a fruit powder such as amchoor), sometimes with the addition of muddled dates or tamarind. This mocktail uses dates for sweetness, along with cumin, salt, lime juice, mint and ginger beer for a perfectly balanced mixture with depth and complexity.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
This recipe was created by Nic Sims, a former chef who has been sober for 20 years, as a way to still enjoy nuanced drinks without alcohol. The simple balance of pomegranate juice, rosemary syrup and soda, with a sprig of rosemary as an aromatic garnish, is a great example of how simple combinations can display exceptional flavor.
The key to making this mocktail memorable is using fresh, ripe strawberries. The berries get muddled with mint and simple syrup before being topped with lime juice and ginger beer. The mint and strawberry garnish smells like a summer garden. It’s an easy drink to crush—hence its name—all afternoon.
Don't Call Me Shirley
Colleen Kenny, the bar manager of Nostrana in Portland, Oregon, serves customers this version of the Shirley Temple to guests seeking something nonalcoholic and familiar. The usual Sprite or ginger ale is traded for quality soda water plus freshly squeezed lemon and lime juices, and homemade grenadine makes the cocktail strongly resemble the familiar classic. But don’t call it Shirley—it’s not cloyingly sweet like the concoction that generally goes by that name.