Whether you’re trying the Dry January trend for the first time or routinely seek out zero-proof cocktails, making the conscious choice to drop alcohol from your drink doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice flavor or ritual.
“Good Morning America” tapped two beverage experts who serve up everything from seasonal libations to carefully crafted tinctures, all free of booze, for their tips on making a great nonalcoholic drink.
“NA” has popped up on drink menus across the country at an increasing rate over the last three years with beverage directors and bartenders turning their attention to more nonalcoholic options.
Tips to make a great nonalcoholic drink or mocktail at home
Gary Wallach, New York City-based beverage director and partner at Lindens, knows a thing or two about serving libations free of alcohol. Below are Wallach’s top tips for serving up your own “NA” cocktail.
1. Don’t skimp on the glassware. Zero-proof cocktails should be served in the same style as their boozy counterparts. So get a nice coupe why don’t you!
2. Tea can be as complex as many other spirits. If you need to add a base but can’t find anything as fancy as these new non-alcoholic distillates, try for a strongly brewed tea base.
3. Don’t miss the party. Even when serving nonalcoholic drinks, punches are always best. That way you’re not stuck making one drink at a time and can enjoy the company of your friends and family.
4. Garnishes can make a great impression. Spend some time creating decorative and useful garnishes that make the cocktail indistinguishable from a boozy drink.
5. Balance is everything. This isn’t your college party. Treat these drinks with the same respect you stir a martini.
6. Utilize your freezer. Ice is to bartenders as fire is to chefs. Ensure your ice is beautiful, and it will transform the simplest concoctions.
Another New York hotspot Alice, known for its coastal Italian seafood fare, routinely captivates customers with its delicious drink menu and booze-free options.
Wael Deek, beverage director and partner at Alice, shared with “GMA” six of his tricks of the trade when it comes to shaking up NA drinks at home.
1. Don’t try to replicate cocktail recipes and simply remove the booze. The key is to curate an individual drink that’s zero-proof without losing the integrity of the beverage.
Off of this point, Deek emphasized that “a good mocktail combines sophisticated ingredients that are delicious and will make it easier for you to ‘lose the booze’ for Dry January or any other goals for cutting alcohol from your routine.”
2. Invest in zero-proof alternatives. It’s a great supplement to the real thing with added flavors and notes that mimic spirits. Some examples include Seedlip, Prima Pavé (nonalcoholic premium sparkling wine) or Pathfinder.
3. Use other natural ingredients as a base. If you can’t purchase a nonalcoholic base, Deek suggests trying purees and citrus (lemon or lime) for guaranteed richness and flavor.
4. Sweeteners are key. Include sweet syrups like maple syrup or agave to sweeten the mocktail.
5. Add some effervescence. Sodas or ginger beer can be used for extra fizz and a nice kick at the end of your recipe.
6. Create your own ingredients. Deek suggested making a homemade brew with your favorite herbs, roots or leaves. “It will balance your NA cocktail and will add flavor and texture for your signature concoction,” he said.
Nonalcoholic drink recipes
Below, find three nonalcoholic cocktail recipes you can serve up at your next get-together or simply try at home for yourself.
One of Deek’s concoctions uses a fermented hemp-based liquid for a complex and earthy NA cocktail.
1 ounce The Pathfinder (0% abv)
0.25 ounce grape must syrup
0.5 ounce fresh lemon juice
Method: Mix all ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake until chilled. Pour over ice in rocks glass and garnish with a lemon wheel. Finish with a rose water sptiz.
Wallach said this drink is typically made with Empress 1908 gin and pisco, plus lavender syrup, concord grape jam, lemon and egg white for a frothy effect.
“To make this zero proof and Dry January friendly, we swapped the alcoholic ingredients with distilled nonalcoholic spirit Seedlip, replacing the gin with Seedlip Garden [for] that nice juniper taste, and pisco with Seedlip Grove [for] a bright, sweet and floral taste with a dry finish,” he said.
Bar spoon of concord grape jam
0.75 ounce lavender syrup
0.75 ounce Seedlip Garden
1 ounce club soda, poured freely
Garnish: Lavender flowers floating on top of the foam
Method: Measure the egg white in your jigger and add to the large tin. Build all other ingredients in the small tin. Combine with egg white and dry shake for 10 to 15 seconds. Crack open the tin, add ice. Shake again for 10 to 15 seconds. Strain into glass. Add half the amount of club soda needed, let set for 10 to 20 seconds. Add the last of the club soda to lift the foam above the rim of the rocks glass. Garnish.
This mocktail version replaces Malfy Gin with Seedlip Grove to add in the necessary juniper flavors.
0.75 ounce chamomile tea syrup
Garnish: Chamomile flowers laid on top of a cucumber wheel.
Method: Add all ingredients to a small tin. Fill the tin full of cubed ice and shake vigorously. Double strain with an open gate into the coupe glass and garnish.