We’ve developed these soft cocktails for those who prefer to reduce or avoid alcohol for whatever reason. Drinking or not, we have tried to include something for everyone. So often, a request for a mocktail is met with a blank face and an offer of the last bottle of NA beer in the building. Sometimes, you’ll get an offer of a “vodka-cran, substitute soda water for the vodka.” Boring. All of these beverages use some craft, some unique flavor combinations, and some clever mixology. Even if you’re simply trying to cut down your alcohol consumption, see what catches your eye and maybe give one a shot! We hope you’ll find something intriguing!
We’re always updating the assortment, so be sure to check back once in a while for additional options. Also, be sure to leave a comment in the section below–tell us what you liked, what didn’t work, or how you “massaged” the recipe.
Note: Although alcohol-based, dashes of bitters contain only trace amounts of alcohol meaning most of these beverages are still generally considered non-alcoholic.
Our thoughts on the classic brunch cocktail. Three variations.
Bubbles Laying in the Grass
Relaxing in the grass on a summer day.
Chocolate Almond Cold Brew Martini
Creamy, bold coffee. Not crazy sweet.
Based on a classic mule, this one uses tangy cranberries.
el Plátano Rabioso
Tropical and creamy. Refreshing and earthy. Two variations.
We were trying tons of ideas. This one is incredible.
Our NA version of a premium espresso martini.
Espresso makes this one bitter, unique, and balanced.
Gold Rush Manhattan
A remarkable adaptation of the classic. Ornate and delicious.
Inspired by the classic Gin & Tonic.
Green Tea Maple Flip
Rich and smooth. Jasmine tea-based.
Just Call Me Ecstasy
Exotic and refreshing. You’ve never had anything like this!
la Manzana Astuta
Apple based. Deep and complex.
Grapefruit based. Refreshing, tangy and herbal.
Long Island Iced Tea
Our NA recipe for the classic cocktail.
An NA version of the classic cocktail.
Inspired by a craft manhattan.
Fresh, crisp, citrus in three variations.
Minty Agua Fresca
Watermelon and mint. Refreshing…perfect for hot weather.
Our NA take on the classic.
A new twist on the old favorite.
Tomato and lemon-lime results in sweet and savory delight.
A riff on a classic Moscow Mule.
Complex and sophisticated, fresh and tangy.
the Audacious Bunny
Based on our Peter Piper. Complex and bold, yet cozy.
the Cheeky Deacons
Shots. Tropical and smooth.
the Electric Arándano
The Electric Blueberry. Fresh and herbal.
the Frat Brother’s Kitten
Shots. Sweet, fruity, and fun!
the Freaky Beach Belle
Fresh, tropical, and indulgent.
the Kisses of Gnomes
Shots. Spicy, tart, and nutty.
the Noble Hyena
Bold espresso and fruits. Extraordinary.
Shots. Tropical, exotic, and “passionate.”
the Penthouse Maverick
Shots. Bold and unique. Not too fruity or too sweet.
the Peter Piper
Unique and interesting mix of flavors. Bold and refreshing.
the Prancing Wizard
Exotic, bold, and refreshing.
the Precious Mobster
Inspired by a smoked manhattan.
the Reckless Accountant
Apples and black tea. Earthy and balanced.
the Smirking Betty
Shots. Sweet, with a rich coffee base.
the Wicked Librarian
Gorgeous and unexpected. Blackberries and espresso.
Tropical and floral.
Tips, Tricks, Simple Syrups
A Quick Note on Ice
These soft cocktails don’t have alcohol in them, which means they will freeze quicker, because alcohol lowers the freezing temperature of regular cocktails. The result is that you may find that when you shake your drink, some of the ingredients freeze to the ice cubes, leaving you a short pour. We struggled with this. A lot.
One way to reduce the issue is to use large ice cubes or ice spheres. The larger the ice, the less surface area there is for the drink to freeze to, and the slower it will melt. This can result in a more consistent drink.
Another option is to use crushed ice instead of regular cubes. Crushed ice has more surface area than larger cubes, so it will freeze to the drink less easily. This can help prevent the drink from sticking to the ice in the shaker. Both regular ice cubes and crushed ice can cause the issue of the drink freezing to the ice in a shaker. The key here is to use less crushed ice (to keep dilution in check), and shake for a shorter period of time.
Finally, we’ve found this to be extremely effective: when using ice fresh out of the freezer, rinse it with fresh water before you use it. Do this by filling a cup with ice, pouring a few ounces of filtered water over it and then simply pouring out the water, ensuring all the ice gets rinsed wet. This brings the surface temperature of the ice up enough that the cocktail shouldn’t freeze while you’re shaking.
There are lots of alcohol-free alternatives that can be used to create mocktails that mimic the flavors and textures of popular spirits. These are some alcohol-free substitutes for basic spirits:
- Vodka: Club soda, tonic water, or coconut water can be used to mimic the crisp, neutral flavor of vodka.
- Tequila: Grapefruit juice or a combination of lemon and lime juices can be used to mimic the citrusy, slightly sweet flavor of tequila.
- Rum: Coconut water, pineapple juice, or almond milk can be used to mimic the sweet, tropical flavor of rum.
- Gin: A combination of cucumber, lemon, and lime juices can be used to mimic the botanical, slightly bitter flavor of gin. A splash of tonic can also add a touch of bitterness.
- Whiskey: Chai tea, coffee, or a combination of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg can be used to mimic the warm, slightly spicy flavor of whiskey.
- Brandy: A mixture of apple cider or apple juice with a touch of cinnamon and nutmeg can be used to mimic the sweet, warm flavor of brandy.
- Scotch: A combination of lapsang souchong tea, orange juice, and a pinch of smoky tea can be used to mimic the peaty, smoky flavor of scotch.
- Bourbon: A mixture of maple syrup, vanilla extract, and cinnamon can be used to mimic the sweet, oaky flavor of bourbon.
- Cognac: A mixture of pear juice, ginger syrup, and nutmeg can be used to mimic the rich, fruity flavor of cognac.
- Campari: A combination of pomegranate juice, grapefruit juice, and a touch of bitters can be used to mimic the bitter, slightly sweet flavor of Campari.
To keep your mocktails feeling premium, be sure to use high-quality ingredients, such as freshly squeezed juices, raw sugar, and real spices and herbs. You can add a touch of carbonation to create a bubbly texture, or serve your mocktails in a fancy glass, such as a martini glass or a hurricane glass, to create an elegant presentation.
Remember, the key to creating premium mocktails is to experiment with different ingredients and techniques, and to find the flavors and textures that you love. With a little creativity, you’ll be creating delicious and sophisticated non-alcoholic drinks that are every bit as good as their boozy counterparts.
Balancing Flavors in Your Soft Cocktails
Balancing flavors in mocktails can be a bit tricky, but here are a few suggestions that can help you create a well-balanced drink:
- Start with a base flavor: Choose a primary flavor or ingredient that will serve as the base of your mocktail. This could be a fruit juice, a syrup, or a tea. Once you have your base, you can build other flavors around it.
- Think about sweetness: Consider the level of sweetness in your mocktail and adjust it as needed. You can add sweetness with simple syrup, honey, or fruit juice, and you can balance it with sour flavors such as lemon or lime juice.
- Add acid: Acidic flavors can help balance sweetness and add a bright, tangy note to your mocktail. You can use citrus juices like lemon or lime, or vinegars like apple cider or balsamic.
- Incorporate herbs and spices: Adding fresh herbs or spices can add depth and complexity to your mocktail. Think about complementary flavors, such as basil and strawberry, or cinnamon and apple.
- Use bitters: Bitters are a great way to add complexity and depth to a mocktail, and they can help balance out sweetness. Just a few drops can make a big difference.
- Taste and adjust: As you create your mocktail, taste it frequently and adjust the flavors as needed. Be patient and take your time to find the right balance of flavors.
Remember, balance is key! Try to create a harmonious blend of flavors that work together rather than overpowering one another. With some experimentation and practice, you can create delicious, well-balanced mocktails that are sure to impress.
Ideas on Complementary Flavors
These are just a few examples to help you fire up your cognitive engine when creating your own mocktail–there are countless other flavor combinations to explore. Experimenting with different ingredients and flavors can lead to some surprisingly delicious and unique mocktails. If you develop something amazing, be sure to share it in the comments below!
Ginger and lime: The spicy heat of ginger pairs well with the tangy acidity of lime.
Pineapple and coconut: The tropical sweetness of pineapple and creamy coconut work together to create a refreshing, beachy flavor.
Rosemary and grapefruit: The aromatic, slightly piney flavor of rosemary complements the bitter, slightly tart taste of grapefruit.
Mint and watermelon: The cooling, refreshing flavor of mint pairs well with the sweet juiciness of watermelon.
Lavender and lemon: The floral, slightly sweet flavor of lavender pairs well with the tart, zesty flavor of lemon.
Cucumber and mint: The refreshing, crisp flavor of cucumber pairs well with the cooling, herbal taste of mint.
Blackberry and sage: The juicy, slightly tart flavor of blackberry pairs well with the earthy, slightly savory flavor of sage.
Cilantro and lime: The citrusy, slightly sour taste of lime pairs well with the fresh, herbaceous flavor of cilantro.
Honey and thyme: The sweet, floral taste of honey is a great match for the earthy, slightly spicy flavor of thyme.
Beetroot and ginger: The sweet, earthy flavor of beetroot pairs well with the spicy, slightly sweet taste of ginger.
Matcha and coconut: The slightly bitter, grassy flavor of matcha green tea is complemented by the creamy, tropical taste of coconut.
Cardamom and orange: The warm, spicy taste of cardamom is a great match for the sweet, slightly tangy flavor of orange.
Basil and grapefruit: The fresh, slightly peppery flavor of basil is a great match for the tangy, slightly bitter taste of grapefruit.
Pear and rosemary: The sweet, juicy flavor of pear is complemented by the fragrant, slightly piney taste of rosemary.
Sage and grape: The earthy, slightly savory flavor of sage pairs well with the juicy, sweet taste of grapes.
Carrot and ginger: The sweet, earthy flavor of carrot is complemented by the spicy, slightly sweet taste of ginger.
Pomegranate and rose: The tangy, slightly sweet flavor of pomegranate works well with the floral, slightly perfumy taste of rose.
Fig and thyme: The sweet, slightly nutty flavor of fig is complemented by the earthy, slightly spicy flavor of thyme.
Hibiscus and lemon: The tart, slightly floral flavor of hibiscus is a great match for the zesty, slightly sour taste of lemon.
Mango and chili: The sweet, juicy flavor of mango pairs well with the spicy, slightly smoky taste of chili.
Raspberry and basil: The juicy, slightly tart flavor of raspberry is complemented by the fresh, slightly peppery taste of basil.
Ideas to Create the “Burn” of Alcohol in Your Cocktail
While it’s not possible to recreate the exact “burn” of alcohol in non-alcoholic drinks, because the sensation is largely due to the alcohol itself; you can add ingredients that add a similar warmth or heat. Here are a few options to consider:
- Bitters: Bitters are aromatic ingredients that are typically used in small quantities to add depth and complexity to cocktails. Some popular types of bitters include orange, grapefruit, cherry, walnut, and aromatic bitters. By adding a few dashes of bitters to a mocktail, you can achieve a similar effect to the bitter flavors found in alcohol.
- Citrus Juices: Citrus juices such as lemon, lime, and grapefruit can provide a tart and tangy flavor that can help simulate the taste of alcohol. The acidity in these juices can also create a similar mouthfeel to the burn of alcohol.
- Herbs and Spices: Certain herbs and spices, such as mint, basil, and ginger, can add depth and complexity to a mocktail. The natural oils and flavors of these ingredients can help create a similar taste and mouthfeel to alcohol.
- Fresh ginger specifically, has a naturally warming quality and a slight heat, which can mimic the burn of alcohol. Try muddling fresh ginger in the bottom of a shaker before mixing the rest of your drink, or add a splash of ginger syrup or ginger beer to the finished drink.
- Cracked black or pink peppercorns can also give a drink some heat. You can add a few cracked peppercorns to the bottom of a shaker before mixing, or rim your glass with a mixture of sugar and peppercorns.
- A small pinch of chili flakes added to a drink can mimic the heat of alcohol. Add the chili flakes to the bottom of your shaker, or rim your glass with a mixture of salt and chili flakes.
- Sweeteners: Sweeteners like sugar, agave nectar, and honey can be used to create a balance of sweetness and bitterness, similar to the taste of certain alcoholic beverages.
By using a combination of these ingredients, you can create mocktails that have a similar taste and mouthfeel to alcoholic drinks, without the alcohol. Keep in mind that the taste and intensity of these ingredients can vary, so it’s important to experiment and adjust the proportions as needed (the heat from some of these ingredients can be overpowering). Also, while these ingredients are meant to add a similar heat as alcohol, they will not taste exactly the same.
Mix 1 cup pure light blue agave nectar with 1/2 hot water until it’s fully dissolved. Let the syrup cool and store in an airtight container. It’ll keep for about a month if it’s refrigerated.
Black Tea Syrup
In a saucepan, heat 3/4 cup water and 3/4 cup sugar over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved, and the liquid is simmering. Remove from heat. Add two or three black tea bags and let steep for 5-10 minutes. Remove the bags, let cool, and transfer the syrup to a clean bottle. Stored tightly sealed in the fridge, it should be good for about a month.
In a saucepan, heat 3/4 cup water and 3/4 cup white sugar over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved. Add about 1/2-1/3 cup cardamom pods and simmer for about 10 more minutes so the cardamom flavor can infuse into the syrup. Remove from heat and let cool. Strain the syrup through a mesh sieve into a clean bottle. Sealed tightly in the refrigerator, this should keep for about a month.
In a saucepan, heat 3/4 cup water and 3/4 sugar over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add 1/2-3/4 cup freshly grated ginger. Increase the heat, bringing the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and let slowly simmer for about five minutes. Let syrup cool. Strain the syrup into a clean bottle and seal tightly in the fridge for up to a month or so.
In a small saucepan, heat 1/2 cup honey and 1/2 cup filtered water over medium heat. Stir until the honey is dissolved. Allow to cool and transfer to an airtight container. The syrup ought to keep for about a month if refrigerated.
Keep in mind that different varieties of honey will have different flavor nuances. You might try different types of honey according to the type of cocktail you’ll be making. Milder honeys, such as clover and alfalfa, lend themselves well to brighter cocktails, while richer and earthier varieties, like buckwheat, perform best in dark-spirit drinks.
Mint Simple Syrup
Combine 3/4 cup filtered water, 3/4 cup white sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add 1 cup fresh mint leaves and simmer for about a minute. Remove from heat, and let syrup steep for about 30 minutes. Once cool, strain syrup into a glass jar to remove mint leaves. Seal tightly and store in the fridge for up to a month or so.
In a small saucepan, heat 3/4 cup granulated sugar and 3/4 cup filtered water over medium heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved. All the mixture to cool, then pour into a glass jar and seal tightly. It ought to keep, refrigerated, for about a month.
Tellicherry Black Pepper Syrup
In a small sauce pan, bring 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat. Add 3 ounces (about 1/4-1/3 of a cup) of freshly coarse-cracked black pepper and let steep for 5-10 minutes. Let cool, and strain the mixture into a bottle. It should keep for about a month.
In a saucepan over medium heat, bring 3/4 cup water, 3/4 cup sugar, and 2 tablespoons turmeric powder to a simmer stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved. Reduce heat and let simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Strain the syrup into a clean bottle (removing any solids). Seal it tightly and store it in the fridge for up to a month.
Vanilla Simple Syrup
Add 3/4 cup filtered water and 3/4 cup granulated sugar into a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and add one or two vanilla beans, split lengthwise. Let steep for several hours. Strain into a bottle and seal tightly. This, like our other recipes, should keep in the refrigerator for about a month.