How to Make Delicious Mocktails at Home
Indulge in vibrant, inventive beverages sans the alcohol! Mocktails, the delightful counterparts to cocktails, offer a symphony of flavors, creativity, and refreshment. In this blog post, we dive into the art of crafting these alcohol-free marvels, explore tantalizing recipes, and provide tips for creating your own unique mocktails. Whether someone abstains for health reasons, as a religious practice, or simply as a preference, a thoughtfully mixed mocktail means everyone can be included in the celebration. So get ready to go beyond boring NA beverages and learn the basics of elevated, delicious homemade mocktails.
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The Easy Route: Swap Spirits for an NA version
This is the most straightforward way to make a mocktail. Use a standard drinks recipe, but swap a non-alcoholic spirit in place of the traditional one. As more and more people reduce their alcohol consumption, there’s been a huge outpouring of alcohol-free spirits hitting the market in response. Pioneers like Seedlip and Ritual paved the way for zero alcohol alternative, and tons of smaller companies are joining in. Local distiller Wilderton Free in Hood River, OR opened the nation’s first non-alcoholic distillery and tasting room, Field Bar + Bottle Shop in Tacoma has an entire non-alcoholic section, and Seattle saw its first 100% no-alcohol bottle shop, Cheeky & Dry, open in 2023. Alcohol free drinks are truly having a moment, so if you haven’t investigated them, it’s a great time to give NA spirits a chance.
However, there are lots of ways to make mocktails without dropping cash on a zero-alcohol bottle. Read on for tips to make your own original mocktails at home.
Get creative with mixers
From bougie flavored tonic waters, to kombuchas that offer a tangy, effervescent tickle, think beyond plain soda or juice as your mocktail base. Infused simple syrup is a fantastic way to add unique flavors to your mocktails–and like the name suggests it’s very simple to make!
This all-purpose simple syrup recipe can be modified to infuse nearly any flavor into your mocktails. Here’s where you can really let your creativity shine and play with different ingredient combinations. Herbs? Spices? Citrus? Berries? Let your imagination run wild and see what concoctions you can dream up!
- Flavoring Ingredient(s) You can use nearly anything but here are a few ideas:
- Dried culinary lavender
- Fresh or dried basil leaves
- Sprigs of rosemary
- Slices of citrus fruit
- Thinly sliced, peeled fresh ginger root
- Vanilla pods
- Juniper berries (this will give mocktails a flavor reminiscent of gin)
- Dried chile pods
- Sliced fresh jalapeno or habanero peppers
- Sliced strawberries
- Holiday spice syrup: cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg
- Tea leaves
- You can also combine these: try basil and orange, ginger and cinnamon, and so on.
- In a saucepan, combine equal parts water and sugar (1:1 ratio) and your flavoring component. The more of the flavoring you use, the stronger the final infusion flavor will be.
- Bring to a simmer, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
- Remove from heat and let it steep for 15-20 minutes.
- Strain and let it cool.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Balance the Sweetness of Tonic or Fruit Juices
One of the key roles alcohol plays in a cocktail is to balance the drink by cutting the sweetness of the syrup, tonic, or fruit juice. For mocktails. try using savory ingredients instead of alcohol keep them from being too sugary sweet. Smoked salt on the rim or a dash of smoked bitters will bring smoky depth to the party, while herbs can be introduced via bitters, as a garnish, or in infusions. The acidity of citrus can help balance that sweetness, so a squeeze of lemon, lime, or other citrus can help bring your mocktail together.
Finish your mocktails off with a few dashes of bitters to add complexity and depth. Bitters come in a huge variety of flavors from celery to cardamom to mole. Some people don’t count the alcohol in traditional bitters since it’s a tiny amount, but there are zero alcohol bitters for absolutists.)
It’s sensational: Play with Heat, Texture, and Tannins
Alcohol plays a bigger role in a cocktail than just balancing sweetness. It also adds specific sensations and mouthfeel to a beverage. For a satisfying mocktail, think of ways to incorporate these other sensations without alcohol.
Missing the “burn” of a spirited cocktail? Add an element of heat to your mocktails with a small pinch of cayenne pepper, muddled jalapeno, warming ginger, or even a grind of black pepper.
If your mocktail needs the tannic quality of wine, try using unsweetened cranberry juice, verjus, or long-steeped tea to get a similar tongue-drying effect.
Add interest with texture: the foam atop many classic cocktails is simply egg whites - already a non alcoholic ingredient that translates nicely to a mocktail. Incorporate bubbles for a fizzy tongue tickle, or bring in creamy elements like cream or coconut milk.
Don’t skip the garnishes! Garnishes not only make your concoctions look prettier with a pop of color, they also add important oils and aromas. A spring of rosemary gives an herbal, resinous scent to the beverage, while a twist of orange peel wakes up the drink with a mist of orange oil. A salted or spice rim, a sprinkle of cinnamon or pepper – these are the finishing touches that bring a mocktail from pretty good to downright amazing.
And of course, serve your mocktails in the fancy glassware so it feels like the special, celebratory treat that it is!
Mocktail Recipes to Try at Home
A non-alcoholic alternative to the Cranberry Key Lime Holiday Mojito and a great way to use any leftover fresh cranberries you have on hand.
- 4 oz cranberry juice
- 3 oz soda water
- 3 limes, juiced
- 12 fresh mint leaves
- 1 oz vanilla-infused simple syrup OR 1 oz simple syrup and ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup fresh cranberries
- 2 cups ice
- Place eight mint leaves and lime juice in a cocktail shaker. Muddle until mint is well macerated.
- Add cranberry juice, soda water, and simple syrup. Shake until well mixed.
- Divide ice and cranberries between four mojito or cocktail glasses. Pour mixture over ice and garnish with remaining mint leaves.
This Citrus Sunrise Fizz boasts a tangy and frothy profile, thanks to the blend of citrus juices and the silky texture provided by the egg white foam.
- 3 Tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 Tablespoon simple syrup or substitute juniper berry infused syrup
- 1 egg white*
- Club soda
- Ice cubes
- Orange slice (for garnish)
- In a shaker, combine fresh orange juice, fresh lemon juice, and simple syrup.
- Add Egg White: Crack an egg and carefully separate the egg white into the shaker. (Save the yolk for making mayonnaise, eggnog, or whatever you like!).
- Dry shake (shake without ice) vigorously for about 10-15 seconds to emulsify the egg white and mix the ingredients.
- Add ice cubes to the shaker and shake again for another 15-20 seconds to chill.
- Strain the mixture into a glass without ice, allowing the foam to form on top.
- Top with Club Soda: Gently pour club soda over the foam to add effervescence and volume to the drink.
- Garnish with an colorful slice of orange or twist of orange peel for a finishing touch and a hint of citrus aroma.
This Blackberry Blitz mocktail gives plenty of opportunities to experiment with heat in your mocktails, while blackberries help keep the drink from getting too sugary-sweet.
- 4 blackberries, plus more for garnish
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons sugar (Optional: substitute 1 oz jalapeno or habanero simple syrup for added heat)
- 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
- 1 sprig mint, plus more for garnish
- 1/2 to 1 cup club soda
- Combine the blackberries, lemon juice, sugar, pepper, mint and vodka in a highball glass.
- Gently muddle with a muddler (or the back of a wooden spoon).
- Fill the glass with ice, and top off with club soda.
- Stir. Garnish with blackberries and a mint sprig.
This Lavender Earl Grey Sparkler is not only visually appealing but also offers a delightful blend of floral and citrus notes, making it a perfect mocktail to savor on any occasion. Enjoy its aromatic floral profile!
- 1 cup Seattle Kombucha Co. Lady Grey Lavender Kombucha (or use 1 cup brewed Earl Grey tea, chilled)
- 1/4 cup lavender-infused simple syrup (see infused simple syrup recipe)
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- Optional: Dash of alcohol-free lavender bitters
- Sparkling water
- Ice cubes
- Fresh lavender sprigs (for garnish)
- Lemon twists (for garnish)
- In a shaker, combine chilled Earl Grey lavender tea or kombucha, lavender simple syrup, and freshly squeezed lemon juice.
- Shake well to combine.
- Fill glasses with ice cubes.
- Pour the tea mixture evenly into the glasses.
- Top off each glass with sparkling water for effervescence.
- Garnish with a slice of lemon and a sprig of fresh lavender to each glass for a beautiful presentation and an extra hint of fragrance.
- 1 cup apple juice or cider
- 1/2 tsp ginger syrup
- 1/2 tsp holiday spice syrup
- dash orange bitters
- 1/2 c to 1 cup soda water
- Apple slices, rosemary sprigs, or cinnamon sticks to garnish
- In a shaker, combine apple juice, syrups, and bitters.
- Shake well to combine.
- Pour into glass and top with soda water.
- Garnish with apple slices, rosemary sprigs, or a cinnamon stick for added flavor.
Cocktails feel a little more elevated than simply cracking open a beer because there’s artistry and craft in the mixing, pouring, and presentation. So bring that same energy to your non-alcoholic beverages and see what wonders you can envision. That’s something we can all drink to!
*Consuming raw or undercooked eggs can increase the risk of foodborne illness, particularly among certain at-risk populations.