Over the past few years, as I've shared dozens of cocktail recipes here on the blog, I've heard your cries for more mocktails. If you aren't familiar with what a mocktail is, it's an alcohol-free cocktail. Whether you don't drink, are expecting a tiny person in the near future, or are not yet of legal age—I'm here today to teach you how to make drinks that are every bit as delicious and interesting, but booze free!
I have several friends who don't drink, and so recently I've been testing different mocktails on them, and I'll share a couple of our favorite recipes at the end of this post!
But first, here's how to turn any cocktail into a deee-licious mocktail!
Tip 1: MAKE IT SPARKLE
Recipes with a base of club soda, tonic water, ginger ale, sparkling juice, or ginger beer make great mocktails. Think of it as a fancy soda!
Of course, there are some exceptions—like Bloody Marys. You don't have to add sparkles to every mocktail, but if it's a sweet or fruity flavor, I would definitely consider the option!
Tip 2: GO FLAVOR CRAZY
- Homemade syrups. I've made syrups here lots of times (learn how here). It's super simple. Combine 1 part sweetener (choose from sugar, brown sugar, honey, agave, Truvia, etc.), 1 part water, and some fresh fruit, herbs, or spices to add flavor. Simmer over medium heat until the mixture is completely liquid. Strain out any herbs or spices and use it to flavor anything you like (mocktails, lemonade, coffee, tea, etc!). Making your own syrups is so easy and tasty!
- Infusing fresh fruit and herbs. I love a drink full of fresh mint, basil, and fruit. It's both a beautiful garnish and a great way to add flavor. If you really want the flavors to come out, you need to either muddle your ingredients or let them infuse in the liquid for an hour or so before serving.
- Garnish with flavor! Add flavored salts or sugars to your rim. Use citrus slices or other fresh ingredients to add flavor and fragrance to your drink.
A few of my favorite fresh flavors to experiment with are basil, cilantro, ginger, lavender, citrus, and rosemary. If you get creative, there is a way to mix literally ANY flavor into a mocktail.
Tip 3: KNOW WHICH DRINKS TRANSLATE
Some cocktails translate perfectly to mocktails, so much so that you can't even tell a difference! Moscow Mules and Bloody Marys are two of the easiest and sneakiest mocktails because they taste almost exactly the same with or without the vodka.
I think versions of a mojito and sparkling lemonade are among the best mocktails because the combination of sweet, citrus, and soda water is so light and fresh!
So what doesn't work so well? Mixed drinks with only two ingredients don't really work, because a rum and coke without the rum is just coke. Duh—right? Drinks made with syrupy mixes (like margaritas and daiquiris) aren't my favorite mocktails because they can turn out to be gross sweet instead of yummy sweet. Just too much sugar without the balancing factor of liquor.
juice of one lemon
1/2 tablespoon simple syrup
In a tall glass, mix the lemon juice and simple syrup. Add ice. Top off with ginger beer, garnish with fresh lemon slices, and serve.
Simple and refreshing!
fresh strawberry slices
fresh cucumber slices
2 fresh limes
fresh mint or basil leaves
sugar sprinkles for garnish
First, prepare your glass by adding sugar sprinkles to one side of the rim using a little brush of honey or simple syrup. In your glass, combine the juice of two limes, 1 tablespoon simple syrup, and ice. Stir and top off with club soda. Add cucumbers, strawberries, and mint for garnish. Enjoy!
If you want to get extra fancy, add some cut-up strawberries and cucumbers to your simple syrup while it is simmering to infuse flavor. Be sure to strain out all the fresh ingredients before you use it.
Bloody Mary mix (I love Zing Zang!)
blue cheese olives
First prepare your glass with a salty rim. In shaker, mix the Bloody Mary mix (enough to fill your glass 3/4 of the way full), a splash of Tabasco, a splash of Worcestershire sauce, a pinch of garlic powder, and a pinch of black pepper. Shake it and pour it over ice. Garnish with a stalk of celery, a piece of rosemary, and some blue cheese olives. Enjoy!
In addition, here are my favorite ABM cocktails with mocktail conversion solutions!
- Sriracha Bloody Mary (for something spicy), Blood Orange Bloody Mary (for something different) or Wasabi Bloody Mary (for something super flavorful). Omit vodka or tequila.
- Apple Ginger Cocktail. Omit Crème de Gingembre, and add 2 ounces club soda for something a little lighter.
- Rasberry Basil Mojito. Omit rum.
- Cranberry Jello Shots. Replace vodka with orange juice.
- Summer Night Cocktail. Omit rum, and add 2 ounces club soda for something a little lighter.
Credits//Author: Elsie Larson. Photography: Sarah Rhodes. Photos edited with Imogen from The Folk Collection.