Whether you're sober, pregnant, extending Drynuary or just giving your liver a quick break, skipping liquor can be a drag in some social situations. A fancy tasting menu at a fine restaurant isn't quite as nice when paired with just water. Hanging out at a party or a bar sucking down Coke after Coke gets old, too. Calling a ginger ale with a dash of cranberry juice a "mocktail" is pushing it, particularly when you have to pay real-cocktail prices. And finally, bartenders – a group who knows better than any other the perils of excessive drinking – are doing something about it.
Mixologists across the country are creating alcohol-free drinks that offer the complexity of a cocktail – the balance of tart or bitter with sweet or herbal – but at zero proof, using fresh cold-pressed juices, herbs and bespoke syrup blends. Recipes for creating these drinks at home abound, too. And a new company called Seedlip is selling what it calls "the world's first distilled non-alcoholic spirits." Seedlip comes in two flavorways, an herbal and a spice. Both are distilled from botanicals in neutral grain spirit, with the alcohol removed before bottling. It's not available in local stores yet, but can be ordered at seedlipdrinks-us.com or Amazon.
Since this is Remix, we took the most classic of all mocktails, the Shirley Temple (that kid-in-a-bar pleaser), and created a more adult, less cloying version. But it may be that the best way to mix a non-alcoholic cocktail is to skip the "mock" part – an imitation of something you can't have is never as good as the real thing. Step out and create your own complex, herbal, sweet or bitter combinations, and dispense with the mockery.
1/4 ounce grenadine syrup
4 ounces ginger ale
Add grenadine to an ice-filled rocks glass, then top with ginger ale. Garnish with orange slice, straw, and as many maraschino cherries as your tiny customer requests.
2 tablespoons herbal strawberry syrup (recipe below)
1 slice of blood orange
2 Luxardo cherries
First, make the syrup: roughly chop 8 ounces of strawberries and add to a saucepan with a cup of sugar; a 3-inch piece of ginger, grated; four sprigs of fresh thyme and 10 ounces of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 20 minutes. Strain out the solids, then boil again until thickened and reduced by half. Allow to cool.
Place a blood orange slice at the bottom of a coupe glass and muddle very slightly to express some juice. Add syrup and top with sparkling water; garnish with one or two cherries.