Mocktail Hour – No alcohol allowed? No problem. Enjoy a mocktail instead
People don’t drink alcohol for many reasons: pregnancy, medication, religious reasons, designated driver status…or because they just don’t drink alcohol (like me!).
It used to bug me at social gatherings when people asked me what I wanted to drink, reeling off a whole list of possibilities: gin and tonic, vodka and orange, rum and coke, and I’d say, ‘Do you have anything non-alcoholic?’ and the choice would be tonic without the gin, orange without the vodka or coke without the rum!
I became adept at creating my own non-alcoholic drinks which felt ‘special’. Along the way I discovered that lots of my friends drink alcohol at parties because of the lack of alternatives! People who do drink alcohol would LOVE to have a non-alcoholic option too, and recently the mocktail (mock cocktail) has been gaining popularity.
Here’s how to turn any cocktail into a delicious mocktail and delight your non-alcohol-drinking friends.
The key element in most good mocktails is something sparkly. This elevates the drink and makes it feel more special than glass of juice. Any cocktail recipe which uses club soda, tonic water, ginger ale, or ginger beer will probably translate to a good mocktail. Some non-sparkly drinks translate well too. These tend to be the spicy ones like Bloody Marys, where you don’t miss the alcoholic component.
Flavour is everything. Mocktails should be special, so try something different.
Start with the syrups. Buy good quality ones (Bottle Green cordials work brilliantly and come in a range of amazing flavours – I love Rhubarb and Ginger) or make your own, it’s simple. Combine one-part sugar (white or brown), honey or agave syrup, and one-part water with fresh fruit, herbs, or spices to add flavour. Simmer over medium heat until the mixture is completely liquid. Strain, cool and use to flavour your mocktails.
Try infusing your drinks with fresh fruit and herbs. A bunch of mint or basil, or a sprig of lavender or rosemary takes a mocktail to the next level, as does fruit. Layer on more flavour with the garnish. Dip the rims of glasses in flavoured salts or sugars, and use citrus slices, pineapple, olives or other fresh ingredients to add flavour and fragrance to your drink to make it a sensory experience. Cocktail umbrellas and decorative sparklers won’t add flavour, but they do make any drink look more celebratory.
Don’t forget the ice. Lots of ice. You can buy bags of it for a party if making it ahead of time is too much hassle.
Does every cocktail translate to a mocktail? Well no…drinks with only two ingredients don’t really work, because as previously stated, a rum and coke without the rum is just coke right? And I find the sweet ones can be a bit cloying for me and taste too ‘desserty’ but if you have a sweet tooth knock yourself out. My youngest loves a virgin pinacolada. And talking of children, making mocktails is a great summer holiday project the whole family can all enjoy! Have fun.
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