Lower-alcohol / nonalcoholic options are being integrated into cocktail lists around the world. Offering quality drinks without liquor is not only a thoughtful way to offer healthier (and profitable) options to your bar guests, but sometimes bartenders also want to give their livers a rest. People who work around liquor all the time need to seek balance with exercise, healthy eating, and giving the liver a rest from alcohol. The best part is – it doesn’t have to be boring.
Just as with cocktails, great tasting nonalcoholic drinks begin with quality ingredients: fresh juices, homegrown herbs, fruits and veggies, and homemade ingredients such as syrups, purees and shrubs. Fancy glassware, quality ice and beautiful garnishes help to snazz up the presentation. And, the base for DeToxTails begins in the garden.
Clinking glasses without liquor in them can seem counter-intuitive. Can we make a toast without alcohol? Is it ok to serve juice drinks to kids in a martini glass so they can be part of the celebration? My answer to both of those questions is a resounding “yes!”
Punctuating a celebration with the clink of a glass is not about booze but about the spirit of the event. The buzz of sharing a few words in honor of a special occasion is intoxicating in itself and brings smiles to every face in the room. I found more people wanting nonalcoholic options both at bars and house parties – not to mention baby showers – which led to my first cocktail book Preggatinis: Mixology for the Mom-To-Be, which came out in 2008. The mocktail trend has just kept growing, and is being taken more seriously in our profession. And, its not just for preggie party girls.
Carrots, citrus, even greens can be whipped into lip-smacking liquorless libations that not only taste good, they are actually good for you. Pour them into beautiful glassware, and it doesn’t matter if there is liquor or not, people are just as happy to celebrate with them. (Not to mention, the profit margin on fancy “virgin” drinks is even higher than cocktails.) Best of all, listing these drinks on a cocktail menu serves a double purpose: they show guests that you give attention to everyone – even those not imbibing booze – and they can also be easily adjusted for guests who want a boozey kick. Listing the nonalcoholic drink with its “alcohol option” gives the menu more diversity.
Lavender Rosemary Syrup (excerpted from Edible Cocktails: Garden To Glass © 2012)
This syrup is a great ingredient in the kitchen as well as in cocktails. Try using it as a roasted chicken glaze, for example. Then make a mocktail or cocktail using the same syrup for a fun pairing.
1/3 cup dried culinary lavender buds
1 ½ cups water
1 ½ cups sugar
approx. 25 rosemary leaves, plucked from sprig
Boil all ingredients until bubbling. Lower heat, simmer for 15 minutes. Let stand until cool, then refrigerate overnight, if possible. Strain, bottle.
This is delicious for anyone. If you want to spike this drink for adults, an ounce-and-a-half of gin with floral notes, such as G’Vine Floraison or Hendricks, are great companions to the lavender-rosemary syrup.
1 ounce lavender rosemary syrup
2 ounces fresh lemon juice
4 ounces sparkling water
Pour into a tall glass filled with ice. Garnish with a lemon wheel and / or lavender sprig.
Blackberry & Green Chile Shrub
Shrubs are a way people preserved and veggies in colonial times. Vinegar is also regarded as some as a great tonic for stomach ailments. Mixed into a mocktail or cocktail, they bring flavor, acidity and depth.
1 cup blackberries
¾ cup sliced Hatch green chile
1 cup sugar
¾ cup pomegranate vinegar
Bring all ingredients, except vinegar, to a boil. Stir until all berries and chile get soft. Add vinegar, then simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand at room temperature until cool. Refrigerate overnight. Strain through cheesecloth. Bottle. Use 1 ounce in a tall ice-filled glass with club soda or lemonade. Or mix up to ¾ ounce into a cocktail.
Create a delicious drink using 2 ounces of shrub in an ice-filled glass topped with club soda and a squeeze of lemon.
Feel the Beet (excerpted from Preggatinis(TM): Mixology For the Mom-To-Be © 2008)
This drink is not only a great Detox-tail utilizing fresh juices packed with vitamins but it also can be a great juice base for a brunch cocktail alternative to Bloody Marys and Red Snappers by adding some vodka or gin.
1 cup spinach or kale
Garnish: Lemon Wedge
Juice separately and layer into a rocks glass.