While some folks might see alcohol as the most enticing part of a cocktail, often the real creativity and fun of an adult beverage comes from the other ingredients. Booze-free drinks, or “mocktails,” get to flaunt all of the summertime flavors without any restriction on who can partake. The term mocktail implies that the drink is an imitator, or maybe even an imposter on a drink menu, but a mocktail is more than a mixer or juice lacking an alcohol sidekick. This drink should be totally complete and satisfying on its own.
Flavored seltzer water, fresh summer fruits, herbs, and teas can come together in different combinations to create a special drink. Some of the well-known mocktails, like a Shirley Temple, combine carbonated beverage with a sweet syrup. Expanding beyond this basic concoction opens a world of refreshing beverages. Learn to create unique house-made syrups with fresh fruit and herbs. The syrup recipe in The Peppered Peach mocktail below can be adjusted for other syrups. Simply combine two parts water with one part sugar and add other ingredients to customize a syrup. Instead of peaches, create a syrup using ripe berries and basil.
Brew a favorite tea and then pour into ice trays. Adding these to a mocktail creates an extra layer of flavor instead of tradional ice. Try blending the tea ice cubes with fresh fruit and topping with a preferred seltzer for a complex combination to sip on.
Even though mocktails don’t have alcohol, they should still feel like special treats. And don’t hold back on delicate garnishes and fun glasses. A pretty lime wedge or playful paper straw lets the crowd know that you’re ready for a good time, no liquor required.
Whether losing the booze for personal taste, cutting back on calories, or for other health reasons, mocktails are delicious and refreshing libations. Perhaps one of the best reasons to opt for mocktails is that everyone can enjoy these special drinks together. They allow everyone a chance to celebrate the refreshing ingredients available during the sweet summertime.
The Peppered Peach
2 ripe peaches, cubed
1 tablespoon freshly cracked pink peppercorns
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
Begin by creating the peach syrup. In a saucepan, combine peaches, pepper, water, and sugar. Heat over medium high until syrup bubbles and sugar is dissolved. Pour the syrup into a glass and refrigerate. Fill a cup with ice. Add a quarter cup of the syrup and, if desired, add a piece of the peaches. Top with tonic water. Garnish with a few pink peppercorns. Makes 6 beverages.
Melon and Mint
3 cups honeydew melon, cubed
1 tablespoon of honey
2 mint leaves
1 cup of ice
In a blender, combine ripe honeydew, mint, and ice. Blend until smooth. Pour into a festive glass, garnish with a mint leaf, and enjoy. For a fizzier version, top with a lime seltzer. Makes 4 beverages.
1/2 cup of blackberries
In a shaker, muddle lime and blackberries. Add ice and shake together. Fill a highball glass with crushed ice. Strain the blackberry mixture into the glass and top with ginger beer. Garnish with a lime wedge. Makes 1 beverage.