Mocktails, or virgin drinks, are nonalcoholic beverages that may closely mimic traditional cocktails by removing the spirits or liqueur. Some are well-known mocktails or nonalcoholic beverages in their own right.
It doesn't matter the reason for choosing to skip alcohol, but having a range of options for a substitute makes all the difference. It's easy enough to drop the rum in a mojito to create a mocktail, but it would be tricky to create a virgin martini. However, some companies are starting to produce alcohol-free spirits that mimic their traditional counterparts. You can even make them at home. But it's nice to know there are recipes to help you through the year, average days, and holidays.
What To Mix
Thankfully, there's a wide world of nonalcoholic mixers to choose from that make nonalcoholic beverages a breeze. These can be enjoyed on their own or over ice with a simple garnish -- consider a lime wedge or orange twist -- to have the same essence as a cocktail.
Juices add a beautiful pop of color to cocktails. Cranberry and cherry add a deep red color, orange and pineapple juices add a flash of brightness and tropical taste, and grapefruit adds a subtle touch of bitter yet juicy flavor. Apple cider adds a spiced, complex flavor to anything it's mixed, even if it's a mulled cider. Fruit flavors are welcoming and fun to work with. Don't overlook other citrus flavors, such as lemon and lime, be it freshly squeezed or as a lemon- or lime-ade. Another option is sparkling juices, such as grape or white grape. Sour mixes are also a great way to add a pucker or extra flavor to your nonalcoholic drinks.
Club soda and flavored club sodas are a great way to add additional fizz and bubbles or add an extra layer of flavor without having conflicting or overpowering profiles. Consider mixing a lime seltzer with cherry juice, or vanilla seltzer with a splash of coconut water. A traditional madras has new life if you use a plain or raspberry seltzer with cranberry and orange juice. Consider pouring a nonalcoholic mimosa with seltzer.
Other sparkling options include pop or soda, be it cola, lemon-lime, grapefruit, ginger ale or ginger beer, root beer, orange, and grape. If you want to elevate these a bit more, use half a can of soda and half a can of complementary seltzer flavor or tonic to mellow out the sweetness. Even a small dash of juice can change everything. A cola with a splash of cherry juice topped off with coconut is an excellent summer drink. All of these are easy to make in large batches for punch, as well.
Syrups, Extracts, and Herbs
In a Shirley Temple, you can use as much grenadine to suit your taste. An idea to contemplate is playing with flavored syrups that are often used in coffee drinks. These are great to mix into other beverages. With flavors from birthday cake, candy apple, maple bourbon pecan, hazelnut, and raspberry, flavors can be recreated or layered in new ways.
A seltzer can be mixed with pineapple juice and raspberry for a colorful and tropical creation, maple bourbon pecan can be stirred in with some coconut water over ice, and candy apple can be warmed up with a spirit-free hot toddy or punch up a mulled cider. Syrups can also help mix up a nonalcoholic margarita.
Don't be afraid to muddle herbs or vegetables to add extra flavor to your drinks.
Shake or Stir, Coupe or Rocks
Similar to traditional cocktails, mocktails can be shaken or stirred. The only firm rule to follow is to avoid shaking anything with fizz. Rather, top off the mocktail with the bubbles or gently stir the ingredients together to mix.
You can be as free or traditional as you like when constructing nonalcoholic drinks. You can use a jigger to carefully measure ingredients, or play it visually based on the color you're hoping to achieve. A mocktail is just as worthy of the grand occasion for a shaker and strainer as any other.
When you serve your drink, you can play by your own rules or follow the leader. You can serve your nonalcoholic mojito in a highball glass or you can strain out the ice and enjoy it in a coupe. There's no wrong way to enjoy a nonalcoholic drink.
And Finally, a Garnish
Don't neglect your garnish! You can go with a garnish as easy as a lemon wheel or lime peel, or as decadent as a Tajin rim or blue cheese-stuffed olives if you opt for a nonalcoholic martini with a mocktail spirit. Garnishes are a crucial part of any cocktail, both visually and for the smell, and this isn't a step to skip.
Mocktails to Consider
A Shirley Temple and Roy Rogers are both well-known and loved non alcoholic cocktails. But if you're looking for something new, or need some inspiration, easily tweaked cocktails to have a nonalcoholic riff include:
- Mojito - omit the rum or include a spirit-free rum.
- Cosmopolitan - skip the vodka but add coconut or sparkling water. A strawberry daiquiri mocktail is also easy to whip up.
- Hot Toddy - not including whiskey doesn't mean that drink lacks richness. Add a splash of apple cider.
- Moscow Mule - enjoy this copper mugged cocktail by using club soda instead of vodka. A mint julep, similar to a Moscow mule, is also easily made nonalcoholic.
- Smash - muddle the same ingredients, but instead of bourbon, add club soda.
- Cucumber Gimlet - muddle the cucumber with lime juice, top with seltzer, and bypass the gin.
A spirit-free cocktail doesn't need to lack pizzazz or be disappointing. There's more freedom to experiment with flavors! Nonalcoholic cocktails can be methodically and enjoyable constructed like cocktails or whipped together to enjoy simply. Either way, consider leaving the bottle in the cabinet and seeing what tasty concoction you can build without alcohol.