Do you or your friends not drink alcohol and are bored with the typical alcohol free drinks? Are you giving up drinking for a month? Do you want to provide a fun non-alcoholic drink at your next gathering or even a make-your-own table, but don’t know where to start?
Have no fear! With a little research and creativity you could become a mocktail wizard. We’ll start by talking about the components of a mocktail and end with a few questions to ask when building your own.
Let’s start by talking about sweeteners.
You can use any sweetener you would like, but simple syrup is one of the easiest to make and allows one to infuse flavors easily. Combine equal parts water and sugar in a pot and bring to a simmer. When the sugar has dissolved, remove it from the heat and allow it to cool. To infuse flavor, add the desired herbs, tea, or dried flower once the pot is removed from the heat and steep for at least 30 minutes. Be careful not to steep for too long because some herbs turn bitter once the leaves have browned or have sat too long. To make a coffee or citrus syrup, simply replace the water with coffee or juice from the fruit.
Now let’s move on to flavors.
Fruit is the easiest and freshest way to add flavor; the most common fruits found in drinks are berries and citrus, but think outside the box. You can use mango, pineapple, cherries, cranberries, or cucumbers, just to name a few. Some ways to incorporate them into drinks are by muddling, purées, or juices. Muddling is when you put fruit and/or herbs in the bottom of a glass with a little sweetener and smush it together. Purées add a bit of texture and viscosity to your drink. Some fruits are better added as a purée; just make sure to strain it first. Juice is self-explanatory.
The final component is the liquid.
Most mocktails use a club soda or sparkling water, but lemonade, iced tea, and ginger beer make great additions too. You could even do a lemonade mocktail topped off with a little sparkling water. Not all sparkling water is made equal. Some have a more crisp bubble than others, so choose wisely.
Now to put it all together.
Here are some questions to ask yourself: What fruits do you want to use? Do you want a purée, juice, fresh flavor from muddling, or a combination? What secondary flavors pair well with your desired fruits to help take it to the next level? Do you want to add that secondary flavor through a simple syrup or muddling? Would it be best with sparkling water, lemonade, or ginger beer?
To help expand your flavor palate, look up a flavor pairing chart; it will even help with your cooking. Some fun drinks could be Pineapple Jalapeño Mojito, Lavender Earl Gray Lemonade, or Cranberry Moscow Mule.