We talk a lot about infused alcohols or batch cocktails during the summer, but what about letting the liquor take a back seat? We’re thinking about punchy shrubs or using an herb infused simple syrup to make zero-proof cocktails—sometimes known as soft cocktails or mocktails—that are both bright in color and flavor.
In the past, ordering a mocktail meant sipping on something simple and sweet, like a Shirley Temple or whatever cran-pineapple mix was behind the bar. Non-alcoholic cocktails were lacking, often the “virgin” version of something more fabulous and nuanced. While we love a soda or lemonade on a hot day, sometimes the mood calls for a more complex drink.
At OXO, we always believe there’s a better way – from peeling potatoes more easily to measuring liquid without bending your neck to yes, even mixing up a delicious zero-proof cocktail. Lately we’re inspired by bartenders experimenting with shrubs and unique ingredients like kombucha, as it makes for a drink with all the characteristics of a craft cocktail, but little or none of the alcohol.
Pictured here is our take on Camille Styles’ Cucumber Basil & Citrus Mocktail. Lime, blood orange, cucumber and basil combine to make a refreshingly tart sip that’s entirely customizable. Use a short glass for a fruitier taste or a taller highball for something fizzier.
Summer Mocktail Ideas
Here are a few other combinations we’re trying out in our quest to make mocktails better.
- Muddled watermelon + basil + tart lemonade
- Iced green tea + pomegranate juice + seltzer + sliced fruit (non-alcoholic sangria!)
- Ginger beer + muddled peaches + mint + lime
- Cucumber + green juice + lime + seltzer
- Blackberry jam + sage simple syrup + sparkling water + lemon
- Warm apple cider + lapsang souchong tea + lemon juice
- Muddled cucumber + lime and mint + tonic water
Tips for Making a Delicious (and Beautiful) Mocktail
Similar to traditional cocktails, presentation can do a lot to elevate a zero-proof cocktail at home. Try out using proper glassware with a sugar or salt rim, and don’t forget the garnish, whether its a wedge of grapefruit, a bunch of herbs or a cocktail pick studded with fancy cherries. Cocktail bitters are great for adding a bit of depth too, but note these may contain very small amounts of alcohol. (Same with kombucha!)
For guests not strictly abstaining from alcohol but looking to reduce their intake, session cocktails are a good option. Taking its name from session beer (lower alcohol brews designed to be enjoyed over an extended period of time) these cocktails are typically less spirituous and center around lower proof alcoholic ingredients such as Campari or Sweet Vermouth. When a stronger spirit does find its way into a session cocktail, bartenders tend to use smaller quantities for flavor only.