What are Mocktails?

Mocktails are all the rage especially during Dry Januaries. With each passing year bringing more reasons to limit your alcohol consumption to reasonable levels, it’s not always easy to find the right drink when you’re skipping booze for a few days. Mocktails don’t just help those who avoid alcohol find something to enjoy at the bar; they also give options for days when you’re not drinking or help cut down how much you consume daily. Plus, they’re a lot of fun to mix up, especially when you get some friends involved.

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What Makes a Mocktail?

So, what are mocktails exactly? They’re simply drinks mimicking cocktails that are free from alcohol. Without a drop of spirits in them, they’re safe for everyone to drink. Pregnant women, people with various medical conditions, those abstaining for religious or personal reasons, and even children can enjoy these drinks without concern. They’re a little more complicated than basic juice or punch mixtures, with many closely replicating classic drinks like a Bloody Mary or Margarita. Keeping the alcohol out can allow you to spend more on mixing ingredients, resulting in a high-quality drink where you barely miss the liquor.

Going the Full Mile

Many people who first learn about mocktails assume they’re not much different than a soda or a juice drink. While these mixes may still rely on those ingredients as the base, they’re usually as complex as a real cocktail. Many pioneers have gone all out with hand-blended bitters, garnishes like maple-cured bacon, and shaking in a genuine cocktail shaker. Serving the drink over ice or in a highball glass also elevates the experience and makes it more than just an average drink. Blended drinks can be especially fun when mixed up without alcohol. Most people would happily accept a Piña Colada or Mudslide even without any rum or vodka mixed in.

Tasty Mocktails on the Sweet Side

As with cocktails, many mocktails stay sweet to give you a boost of energy after you finish sipping. A Shirley Temple is a classic choice, combining lemon-lime soda with grenadine syrup. To take it to the next level, try a Mango Mule in place of the tangy Moscow Mule. Instead of vodka, mango puree and syrup are combined with ginger beer for a spicy and sour drink that has a real kick. If you love daiquiris and other blended drinks, simply double the amount of lemon or lime juice you usually use in place of the alcohol to make sure it still has plenty of tang. Flavored sodas are a grown-up way to celebrate while abstaining, but you’re not limited to just fruit flavors. Try almond or pistachio-flavored soda, which you can make by finely pureeing the nuts with a juicy fruit like strawberries or raspberries and then mixing with club soda.

Not So Sweet Mocktails

If you’re thinking, “What are mocktails aside from juice and soda?” you’re in luck. There are plenty of less sweet recipes for mimicking those cocktails that are on the savory side of the spectrum.

To make a Virgin Bloody Mary as good as the original, try some dill pickle or spicy pickle vinegar in place of the vodka. Tumeric tonic is a great choice, blending freshly juiced health-boosting turmeric with club soda and a little black pepper for spice. A switchel is sour and a little sweet, combining vinegar, ginger, lemon juice, and maple syrup for a unique flavor that is refreshing on a hot day. A similar option is a shrub, a flavored and sometimes sweetened vinegar mixed with sparkling water to make an instant mocktail. Juicing celery and green apples together leaves you with an earthy, savory drink that only needs a little tonic to round it out. Experimenting with classic bitters can also reveal interesting combinations that don’t need alcohol to bring them together.

Make mocktails a part of the next gathering you hold, even if you expect all of your guests to be drinking. You might be surprised at who appreciates your effort to provide more than the usual options for libations. Practice making new mocktails at any time, even as part of breakfast, since they’re not something you have to save for the evenings and weekends like alcohol.

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Brooklyn native, accent-having, travel lover, wordsmith and bud enthusiast. Versed from the streets of NYC, mixed with some world influence, writer/editor and medical user extraordinaire, JJ is here to tell you like it is and guide you to the finest. Brooklyn's favorite feminine stoner, your neighborhood contributor, wrapping leaves like a bandage and bringing you along for the ride.

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