When it comes to non-alcoholic drinks, options are often limited to beverages like bitters and soda, or maybe a fruit juice of some kind. But those who are choosing to abstain for any reason and for any amount of time deserve a product that’s as delicious and thoughtfully constructed as any alcoholic drink. Bartender Sean Barlow’s Strawberry Crush is one such alcohol-free libation, a fruity yet nuanced concoction that’s pleasing enough that you won’t even want to add liquor (though you could). One taste will take the Strawberry Crush and develop it until a full blown love affair.
The Strawberry Crush starts with muddled strawberries. The process itself is simple, but sourcing the best ingredients can be a challenge. While global markets mean strawberries are in grocery stores year-round, the ripest and most flavorful strawberries will always be those found locally in summer. Because of this, the Strawberry Crush is best enjoyed during the hotter seasons.
Besides berries, the Strawberry Crush also calls for a few sprigs of mint. Like the strawberries, these will be best in summertime when mint is plentiful, though the herb grows nearly year-round in some climates. Lime juice adds tartness and brightness, while simple syrup balances that and helps coax out the berries’ sweetness. The recipe calls for one ounce of simple syrup, but that might need to be altered depending on the sweetness of the fruit and the amount of juice given by the lime.
Finally, the drink is topped with ginger beer for carbonation, spice and depth. You can use a ginger ale, but that runs the risk of being overly sweet. The natural pepperiness of ginger beer will lead to a more balanced and nuanced beverage.
The whole point of the Strawberry Crush is that it’s completely enjoyable as is, with no need for spirits. However, if you need to give the drink a kick, it’s remarkably flexible in what liquors work well. Add a white rum and it becomes a gingery take on a Mojito, while a blackstrap rum makes it more like a variation on a Dark ’n Stormy. Tequila pairs lovingly with the strawberry and lime, and bourbon will lead to a perfect warm-weather highball. And if you’re looking for a boost without overly changing the drink’s flavor profile, vodka is your friend.
- 3 strawberries, cut in half
- 3 mint sprigs
- Juice of 1 lime, freshly squeezed
- 1 ounce simple syrup
- Ginger beer, to top
- Garnish: strawberry
- Garnish: mint sprig
In a shaker, muddle the strawberries, mint, lime juice and simple syrup to a juicy pulp.
Pour (unstrained) into a tall Collins glass.
Fill with crushed ice and top with ginger beer.
Garnish with an additional strawberry and mint sprig.