Perfecting the Mocktail

A common fear people might have when they become sober-curious is that they are stuck drinking sparkling water or sugary drinks for the rest of their sobriety. That is not true! 

Thankfully, due to the rise of the sober-curious movement, more and more non-alcoholic brands have popped up offering deliciously crafted zero-proof beers, wines, spirits, and spritzers. While we might be biased, our favorite drinks are DIY mocktails.  

Mocktails allow you to get creative with flavors, colors, and presentation. You can experiment with different ingredients, garnishes, and techniques to create unique and visually appealing drinks. Whether you like your drinks sweet, sour, fruity, smokey, or herbal, you have the flexibility to tailor the mocktail to your taste.

Building a mocktail can be a fun, creative activity (that can be turned into a hobby or even a full-time business, as we did!) when you want to spice up your evening. The act of crafting a mocktail, with its colors, aromas, and flavors, can be therapeutic. It gives you a chance to focus on making an experience out of a drink—it's not just a quick, easy pour. Making mocktails is also a fun way to connect with others. You can invite your friends and family over and make a night out of creating personalized drinks. 

Building the perfect mocktail

If it's your first time building a mocktail, you've come to the right place. And if you're already familiar with building cocktails, the good news is that it's the same process! Thanks to the abundance of non-alcoholic spirits on the market, you can now "mock up" your favorite drinks at home, just removing the self-induced buzz. 

Preparing the shopping list

Before you begin, take a moment to look at what you have in your fridge and cabinets. While you can always be adventurous and create a recipe from scratch, The Mocktail Club is an excellent place to start when you're not sure what drink you want to make. 

Our essentials for mocktails are nonalcoholic spirits, fruit juices, seltzer, club soda, bitters, herbs, spices, milk or cream, and syrups. You can also buy premade mixers or non-alcoholic spritzers. 

Selecting a spirit 

Before you begin adding ingredients to the spirit, we recommend taste-testing the non-alcoholic spirit on its own. Gently swirl the glass to release the aromas, and then take a moment to inhale. Note the fragrance and any distinct scents. Different spirits have different flavor profiles, influencing which ingredients pair better with some bases than others. 

Take a small sip and allow the liquid to coat your palate. Pay attention to the initial flavors, the development on your palate, and the lingering aftertaste. Is the drink light or heavy on the palate? Does it have a smooth or sharp texture? 

Taste is subjective, so pay attention to what you personally enjoy. For example, if you like herbal or citrusy flavors, you might prefer certain non-alcoholic spirits over others, such as alternatives to tequila or gin. 

We chose to pair a bourbon alternative base with an apple flavor profile for our most recently released kit, The Spiced Apple. The caramel, vanilla, and oak base notes seamlessly blend with the sparkling, sweet yet spicy apple spritzer.

If you're in recovery, it may be best to steer clear from spirits that are triggers. Even if they are the non-alcoholic versions, it could be triggering to have a drink that is too similar. Although you will always know your triggers best, smelling the drink before tasting it is a good preventative measure to have in place. 

Balancing body and acidity 

Once you've selected the spirit you want to use, it's time to balance acidity and body. Since a mocktail doesn't have alcohol, finding the right balance between having acidic ingredients and ingredients that give body, such as cream, is even more important. 

Citrus juices like lemon, lime, and orange can contribute acidity, while others, such as apple or pineapple, add body and sweetness. Incorporate citrus zest for a burst of citrus flavor without the added liquid. Herbs like mint, basil, or rosemary add complexity and depth while helping to balance acidity with aromatic and savory notes. 

Sweeteners, such as simple syrup, honey, agave nectar, or flavored syrups, can be used judiciously to balance the acidity. 

While premade mixes or sweeteners are great options when you don't have all the ingredients you want readily available, we prefer adding fresh ingredients. Using fresh ingredients in your mocktails adds a boost of freshness that even a well-made mix can't replicate. And while the difference is slight, muddling the fruits and veggies will create stronger flavors, too. 

Our next favorite step is incorporating non-alcohol bitters when possible, as they enhance the overall flavor balance. To add texture, consider adding ingredients with body, such as coconut water, fruit purees, or non-alcoholic ginger beer. 

Introduce carbonation with sparkling water for effervescence. Plus, it's always good to keep soda on hand if the drink gets too strong and you want to dilute the flavor a little. 

Keep in mind that achieving the perfect balance may require experimentation and adjustments based on personal preferences, so feel free to get creative until you find the ideal combination of acidity and body. 

Topping off the drink with garnishes

Our favorite step when crafting a mocktail is the final step. We love our garnishes! They add a splash of color and texture to a mocktail. 

Garnish with citrus slices, herbs, or a salted rim. The vibrant hues of fruits, herbs, or edible flowers can make the drink more visually appealing. A twist of citrus peel can add a burst of citrusy aroma and taste, while fresh herbs like mint or basil can infuse herbal notes into the drink. 

Garnishes can also elevate the mocktail's presentation, whether you need to impress someone with your creation or are just looking for a fun way to express yourself!

Creating a full experience

Have fun with the process! Enjoy the time you spend making your drink from start to finish. Dust off the beautiful, fancy bar tools you would typically reserve for display only and make an occasion out of creating a mocktail. Use fun and enjoyable glassware to drink out of and accessorize with straws, cocktail picks, umbrellas, edible flowers, personalized drink tags, and more. 

The more you experiment, the easier and more enjoyable the process becomes. Happy mixing! 

Written by: Elena Rogers

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