January 17, 2018

What is a Mocktail?

A mocktail is a cocktail without the liquor.  Instead, juices, sodas, infused waters and many other non-alcoholic ingredients, mixed in just the right ratios, provide flavor.

Made at the restaurant’s bar, modern mocktails tend to have a sense of sophistication that’s shared with their alcoholic counterparts, using a variety of ingredients that cover a spectrum of flavors. Often, those flavors can mimic bourbon, gin, vermouth, bitters, and other staples in the bartender’s kit.

The drinks that accompany a dish influence the overall flavor and experience of a meal. The atmosphere of the restaurant, the appetizers and desserts that come before and after, and the drinks that accompany the dish all converge to craft an engaging dining experience.

Drinks are an especially important topic to consider. While beer, wine and cocktails can all complement a meal, non-alcoholic drinks are sometimes overlooked.

Read on to learn more about famous mocktails from the 20th Century, the modern mocktails movement, and how they impact the experience of a meal.

A mocktail on a restaurant tabl.There are many mocktail options for a perfect meal pairing.

Famous Mocktails

Some of the most well-known and longest-lasting mocktails, all named for celebrities from the early and middle 20th century, are:

  • Shirley Temple: A ginger ale, lemon-lime soda, lemonade or other non-alcoholic base mixed with grenadine syrup and frequently garnished with a maraschino cherry. Named after the famous child actress.
  • Roy Rogers: A cola base, similarly mixed with grenadine syrup and garnished with a maraschino cherry. Named after the famous Western film actor and entertainer.
  • Arnold Palmer: A mix of iced tea and lemonade. The exact ratio and type of tea, whether sweet, unsweetened or something else entirely, is open to interpretation and local tastes. Unlike the other two drinks, which simply bear the name of a popular celebrity, champion golfer Arnold Palmer was known to make this drink at home and order it at country clubs after finishing a round.

Although simple in construction and strongly sweet, these three drinks can be seen as the forebears of the modern mocktail. They were developed to provide a sophisticated cocktail experience to those who can’t or choose not to drink, offering them similar service and presentation without the alcohol.

Modern Mocktails

Current mocktails go beyond the syrup and sugar of classic recipes to offer a wide range of flavors. These innovative recipes can be the perfect accompaniment for a dinner commonly served with an alcoholic beverage or simply enjoyed by themselves.

Chili-lime-pineapple soda

The chili-lime-pineapple soda recipe, shared with Bon Appetit and originally developed by the Seattle Seltzer Co., marries heat, sweet and citrus sour. It’s a relatively simple affair to make the infused juice and blend it with club soda – an important consideration for the many restaurants that don’t have a full soda fountain and all its accouterments on hand.

Mango mule

Some mocktails draw close inspiration from existing alcoholic versions. The mango mule swaps the vodka of the Moscow mule for honey syrup and mango puree, nectar or juice. It’s an excellent substitute for the established drink and stands well on its own, too. Food & Wine offered a reliable recipe.

Lemon-lavender mocktail

Although it lacks a catchy name, the lemon-lavender mocktail draws on lavender-infused simple syrup, fresh lemon juice and a touch of grenadine to create a nuanced flavor. The Merrythought has a quick recipe for both the drink and the syrup.

Virgin Mary

A Bloody Mary without the vodka, the Virgin Mary is full of sweet and savory flavors that offer a robust experience for everyone who drinks it. The Spruce suggested you simply use your existing Bloody Mary recipe and just leave out the booze.

Create Engaging Experiences with Food and Drink

How to pair mocktails (and cocktails!) with meals, build engaging menus, and design the a creative restaurant experience are what students study at our Colorado culinary schools, both at our Boulder Campus and Online.

Learn more about financing options and scholarships for those who qualify.

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