The secret that some bartenders don't want you to know is that nearly any cocktail can be improvised into a mocktail. Why don't they talk about this more often? I don't know. Maybe it makes them feel less fancy or somehow undermines their credibility. I take the completely opposite stance. I feel that being able to cater to any kind of guest demonstrates flexibility.
I often have children approach me at the bar and ask for something. The bar is decorated, it's lit up, people are crowding around it, and I'm obviously handing out something — they don't know better. Having sodas and mocktails on hand makes kids, teens, and non-drinking friends feel welcome.
There may also be guests who don't want to drink for personal reasons, but don't want others to know about it, such as a recovering alcoholic or someone who is newly pregnant. By offering mocktails, all of these guests can feel that they are part of the action.
The secrets of making mocktails fun and amazing are…
- Putting them in the same highball or rocks cocktail glasses that you are using for your real cocktails.
- Filling the glass to the top with ice just as you would for a real cocktail.
- Taking time to decorate them properly, whether that be with a fresh, organic garnish, a decorative straw, or both.
Today I'm going to share with you some of my go-to mocktail recipes. These recipes are so incredibly simple that I'm not even going to bother to write out full instructions and ingredients for each; simply fill a highball glass with ice, add the ingredients described, stir, and enjoy!
My favorite mocktails:
- Bundaberg Blood Orange with Thyme and Jacobsen sea salt
- Bundaberg Peachee with Rooibos Tea Syrup (Rooibos tea, brown sugar, and water)
- Bundaberg Guava with Coconut Water and Lemon Juice
- Bundaberg Lemon, Lime & Bitters Drink with Rosemary
Yep, you can probably tell I love Bundaberg. But the thing about this company is that they are based out of Australia, so if you want to get them in the US, it makes them expensive.
So let's talk about some cheaper alternatives:
- Standard mocktails such as Shirley Temples, Roy Rogers, etc.
- Muddled mint and lime topped with soda water
- Muddled cherries and grenadine topped with tonic water
- Muddled strawberries and basil topped with soda water
- Muddled rhubarb with rhubarb syrup topped with soda water
- Ginger and honey syrup with green tea and soda water
And hit up your local Trader Joe's to make:
- Trader Joe's Sparkling Lemonade with rosemary
- Trader Joe's Sparkling Limeade with rosemary
- Trader Joe's Sparkling Blueberry with blueberries as a garnish
- Trader Joe's Grapefruit Sunset Blend with sliced peaches
- Trader Joe's 100% Cherry Juice with cardamom bitters and soda water
- Trader Joe's Organic Spiced Cider, heated with cinnamon sticks
Get the picture? Any standard mixer such as a sparkling soda can be jazzed up. Use fresh fruit, use seasonal herbs, bring in a local flavor or ingredient that's famous in your city.
The idea is to keep it classy and not pigeonhole non-drinking guests into drinking Coke all night. They want to party, too.