You may consider a cocktail without alcohol to be about as useful as a chocolate teapot and not worth the hassle to make. Wrong. As long as you have these mocktail essentials you’ll soon be sipping your way through a healthy, happy, guilt free night with zero chance of a hangover.
If I’m really honest I know I was a crap host to non-drinkers until I quit alcohol. My approach was simple – drink or fuck off. Well, maybe not that harsh but I certainly wasn’t giving much or any of my time to the designated drivers in the room. I was too busy counting out shot glasses. ANYWAY.
These days I make sure I have good alcohol free options for my guests now, in part because I enjoy them myself. Plus I love the challenge of making a mocktail and getting the response, ‘Oh that’s so good. I prefer it without the booze!’
Cooking for a big dinner party can be daunting but I am so much better at it now that I’m not pissed by the time the meat goes in. Drinking while cooking was always a thing for me so it’s great to have some mocktail alternatives. Bertie loves them too.
The Mocktail Essentials
I now add these 3 mocktail essentials to my shopping list regularly. Lemons, limes and mint. In the summer I grow the mint but right now it’s from Tesco.com.
Lime is a key ingredient in most of my mocktails because it has the sour kick of alcohol with a fresh cocktail taste. Squeeze half a lime onto crushed ice and add just about any fizzy alcohol free drink, apart from beer possibly and you’ll see what I mean. You should see lime as your vodka alternative. A shot of lime to replace the alcohol base.
Mint. Another staple of many of my favourite mocktails. Adding mint is like adding the smell of freshly cut grass – it lifts any mocktail to a new level of happy.
Lemon, because it’s the law.
Adjusting The Sweetness
So you have your zingy alcohol replacement and now you need something to make it all yummy. TOP TIP: Don’t use sugar syrup.
Whether you love elderflower, lemon and ginger or pomegranate and old sandles, get a good cordial and use it instead of sugar syrup. Most mocktails need a sweetener and a cordial is more versatile and half the price. Belvoir and Bottle Green do some lovely options here.
You will be adding sweetness to your home made mocktail but as far as shop bought alcohol free alternatives go, they are all WAY TOO SWEET!! So, unless you want your guests to think they’re at a 7 year old’s birthday party then make sure you have fizzy water. Just adjust the levels to taste.
Ooh, ICE! I don’t have a picture but you know what it looks like. Forget it at your peril!
Alcohol Free Prosecco
Personally I prefer this to Nosecco but there’s not much in it. They are both too sweet but that’s where you need the San Pellegrino. On it’s own this Freixenet 0.0% is a bit pants but like all alcohol alternatives if you are happy to experiment then lovely creations will abound.
Add lime to this to give it a kick and fizzy water to chill it out. It’s also great with orange juice as a Buck’s Fizz (again with the water).
Other So Called ‘Non-Alcoholic’ Alternatives
I have put ‘non-alcoholic’ in inverted commas because some supermarkets and brands are taking the piss with this description. With the rise in sobriety, drinks makers are jumping on the wagon, so to speak, with all manner of fizzy drinks that they are labelling ‘non-alcoholic’. The fact that there isn’t an alcohol equivalent of these drinks doesn’t seem to bother them.
Schloer’s Sparkling White Grape Juice is one example which is lovely but nothing like any alcoholic drink you’ve ever tasted. And M&S are doing a range of fizzy fruit based drinks for the ladies, in champagne style bottles and selling them as ‘non-alcoholic’. It’s pretty shameless but in a way it’s good to see the drinks market respond.
This Apple, Mango and Passion Fruit version from M&S is non alcoholic in the same way that milk is non-alcoholic but unlike milk, it tastes great with sparkling water. A Virgin Bellini in a matter of seconds. So good!
If you have some great mocktail ideas then let me know. I am always on the look out.