By Josh Seaburg
Unlike the temperance movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the nascent trend toward low- and no-alcohol beverages has been bolstered by the cocktail community. Consumers are turning to proof-less beverages more than ever and for a wide variety of reasons – and they’re finding more than the uninspired mocktails of the early 2000s to wet their whistles.
There are several delicious solutions for the abstinent drinker in your life. Let us introduce you to some of our favorites, ranging in complexity, in hopes that your next dry spell goes by a little easier. We’ll include a boozy substitution so you only have to prepare one set of ingredients.
Pineapple-mint Agua Fresca
(Level of difficulty: easy)
Agua Fresca, which literally translates to “fresh water,” are Central and South American delights that can be made from an assortment of ingredients, from sweet and sour fruits to cereal grains and flowers. Agua frescas differ from made-to-order juice cocktails in that they are traditionally prepared in large batches, the volume of which provides more variety and balance. Agua de Jamaica, prepared with hibiscus tea, sugar and lime, and horchata, the cinnamon and rice-milk drink,
1 ripe pineapple chopped (Note: For best results assessing your pineapple, smell the bottom of the fruit. If it smells like pineapple, it’s good to go.)
2 ounces honey or 2:1 sugar syrup
2 cups flat or sparkling water
10-12 mint sprigs, leaves picked and stems discarded
1 ½ ounces fresh lime juice
Combine chopped pineapple, mint, lime and sweetener of choice in a blender. Blend until fully incorporated and then strain to remove any particulates. Refrigerate until chilled, then stir in choice of water. Serve over ice.
*If imbibing, add 1 ½ ounces of a 100 percent agave tequila blanco to 3 ½ ounces finished agua fresca. Serve over ice.
(Level of difficulty: medium)
This drink relies on a cooked-carrot syrup for depth of flavor. Carrots, which are starchy raw, benefit from some heat to convert that starch into sugar. Cinnamon adds another layer of depth, and a nice tonic provides a bittersweet lift
1 ½ ounces carrot/cinnamon syrup
1 ½ ounces fresh lemon juice
3 ½ ounces high-quality tonic (such as Q Tonic or Fever Tree)
Combine carrot syrup and lemon juice in a shaker tin. Shake with ice for 30 seconds. Strain into a Collins glass over fresh ice. Top with tonic, garnish with carrot greens if desired.
Carrot syrup: In a pot, heat 16 ounces fresh carrot juice with one cinnamon stick until just before a simmer. Add 1 cup of sugar and whisk until incorporated. Allow to cool with the cinnamon, then strain and bottle.
*If imbibing, combine 1 ounce carrot syrup and ¾ ounce lemon juice with 1 ounce each aged rum and white rum. Shake, and strain on the rocks, omitting the tonic.
(Level of difficulty: advanced)
This riff on a Sbagliato (traditionally Campari, sweet vermouth and sparkling wine), combines clarified strawberry juice, Stappi red bitter (a nonalcoholic Italian soda), and Champagne acid for a fully fleshed-out drink at home in any cocktail bar.
1 3.8-ounce bottle Stappi red bitter
1 ounce clarified strawberry juice
½ ounce simple syrup
4 drops Champagne acid
Combine all ingredients over ice. Stir gently and serve with a thin slice of lemon.
Clarified strawberry juice: Blend 16 ounces of fresh strawberries and allow to settle at room temperature. The larger solids will fall to the bottom and the clarified juice can be racked, or skimmed, off the top. For better yields, add 1/2 teaspoon of Pectinex Ultra SPL (available online).
Champagne acid: Combine 94 grams of water (just under 100 milliliters) with 3 grams of tartaric acid and 3 grams of lactic acid (available at some homebrew suppliers).
*If imbibing, make recipe as listed, but add 1 ½ ounce London dry gin.
Josh Seaburg has established several award-winning bar programs and a series of innovative pop-ups, highlighting elaborate cocktails and food from local chefs.