From zingy ginger coolers to juicy fruit sparklers and vinegar-based shrubs, bars across the country are stepping up their game when it comes to booze-free beverages. Here are 10 we're loving right now, plus tips on how you can make most of them at home—or get inspired to invent your own.
Cease and Desist at The Library at the NoMad Hotel, New York City
The Library is known for its supreme cocktails, and the mocktail list is no exception. The Cease and Desist is an adult version of an Orange Julius, minus the whole going-to-the-mall ordeal. Orange juice, cream and orange blossom water are shaken and served over plenty of chipped ice, for a sweet, creamy drink with the tang of fresh citrus. It's like a liquid orange dreamsicle: We'll have another round, please. Photo credit: Wicked Good Media
Babymoon at Tosca Cafe, San Francisco
New York City-based star chef April Bloomfield and restaurateur Ken Friedman's latest endeavor is this revitalized Italian classic in San Francisco's North Beach area. When Tosca's chef Josh Even and his wife Katie Even, expecting their first baby in early May, wanted a few mocktail ideas for moms-to-be, mixologist Claire Sprouse created the Babymoon for them. To make it, just shake together 1 ounce grapefruit juice, ½ ounce lemon juice, ½ maple syrup, 1 ounce water, and 3-4 basil leaves, and top with tonic water. Photo credit: Claire Sprouse.
Almond Citrus Spritz at Rioja, Denver
At Top Chef Masters alum Jennifer Jasinski's Rioja, chances are you'll find yourself Googling a few things on the menu, and that includes the mocktails. This Almond Citrus Spritz, for instance, is made with Verjus (the juice of unripe grapes) and Orgeat (sweetened almond syrup). To make it, shake together 1.5 oz white verjus, 1 ounce Orgeat syrup, and ½ ounce lemon juice, and top with soda water. Photo Credit: John Imbergamo.
Orange You Curious at Gracie's, Providence, R.I.
Chef Matthew Varga and bar manager Kristi Dukoff head up Gracie’s, and together they've created some irresistible mocktails for non-drinkers, including the luscious Orange You Curious. Make it yourself by shaking together 1 ounce lemon juice, 1 ounce ginger syrup and 2 drops of orange blossom water and finishing it with 2 ounces of still water; garnish with 3 orange-swath peels. Photo credit: JWessel Photography.
Strawberry Shrub at Cook Hall, Dallas
Love kombucha? Non-alcoholic shrubs have a similarly fermented flavor you might get hooked on; their taste is reminiscent of alcohol, but they contain zero booze. Cook Hall in Dallas created this fresh and fruity drink by stirring together ½ ounce house made strawberry shrub and 3 ounces Fever Tree soda water. Photo courtesy of Cook Hall.
Jamaican Mocktail Mojito at DW Bistro, Las Vegas
Chef Dalton Wilson puts a strawberry spin on a Caribbean classic, muddling fresh mint and strawberries to make the Jamaican Mocktail Mojito. Just muddle strawberries and mint together with ½ ounce lime juice, ½ ounce sweet ginger syrup and 2 ounces pineapple juice. Finish by topping the drink off with 3 ounces Jamaican ginger beer. Photo courtesy of DW Bistro.
Against the Fence at Imperial, Portland, OR
At Imperial, helmed by Top Chef alum Doug Adams, juice from Pacific Northwest apples finds its way into this earthy, refreshing drink, which is also made with lemon juice, sparkling apple cider, and apple shrub. At Imperial, the drink comes in its own fancy fluted glass, garnished with apple. Photo credit: John Valls.
Bruleed Pineapple and Watermelon Shrubs at Laundrette, Austin
Austin’s favorite brunch spot is serving up two new mocktails this season: the Bruleed Pineapple and the Watermelon Shrub. The syrups are what make these stand out: Sage peppercorn syrup gives the pineapple drink its punch, while the watermelon mocktail features a spicy and herby chili-basil syrup. These drinks are labor-intensive to replicate at home, but if you find yourself in Austin, stop in and sample them both, or use them to inspire flavor combinations in your own homemade mocktails.
Raspberry Hibisicus Cooler at Trois Mec, Los Angeles
Celebrity chef and Top Chef Masters alum Ludo Lefebvre continues his takeover of Los Angeles with Trois Mec, where the mocktail menu has expanded lately to include exotic concoctions using elements like dill and elderflower infusions and yuzu lemonade. This Raspberry Hibiscus Cooler is topped with a mint leaf and served in an wine glass. Which definitely helps if you want to at least feel like you're boozing it up. Photo credit: Giant Noise.
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