Booze-Free Cocktails That Are Worth the Hype

Hibiscus Holiday mocktail by Bobby Heugel of Anvil Bar & Refuge

Article by Stephen Hosey, blending application manager, Vitamix®

They’re coming to a bar or restaurant near you: adult beverages rivaling your favorite cocktails for entertainment value. And – surprise – they contain little to no alcohol. 

Drinks like these are on the rise as more consumers seek to reduce or remove alcohol from their diets, while still having an intoxicating good time at happy hour. For many restaurants and bars, now is the time to up their game in this growing category. Today’s mocktails aren’t just slightly modified versions of the old standbys. They’re complex sippers in their own right, thoughtfully made with premium ingredients and designed for an extraordinary experience.  

In the hands of a careful bartender, mocktails do not need alcohol to yield a delectable outcome. A sophisticated balance of flavors, aromas, and textures can be achieved with specialized blending equipment, such as The Quiet One® paired with the Aerating Container by Vitamix® Commercial. 

For best results when creating your own mocktail, we suggest that you appeal to a range of senses, with different layers of flavor to entertain the palate. Here, to get you started, are some techniques and approaches that will lead to your own stellar mocktail.

A delicious, refreshing foundation. 

The base for your mocktail might be a ready-made product, such as sparkling water, soda, fruit juice, tea, or kombucha.

Vitamix Quiet One Booze Free Cocktails

Or, you might prefer to create your own base from scratch by muddling fresh or frozen fruit with ice and your liquid of choice. You can do this in a shaker, or greatly speed up the process using a blender such as The Quiet One® paired with the Aerating Container. 

This specialized blender container features a flat, disc-like blade, enabling it to gently muddle fruits without pulverizing them. You can also use it when making multiple drinks at once. Try this: Load the container with lemon or lime slices, mint leaves, water, ice, and sugar, and blend using program 7 on The Quiet One®. Then, strain the blend to remove rinds, solids, and ice. You’re left with a refreshing limeade that’s a wonderful starting point.

Sweeten and flavor with syrups and purées. 

Without the benefit of alcohol, mocktails require layers of flavor. Both simple and flavored syrups are a good place to start.

While prepared syrups are convenient, blending your own lets you customize beverages with sweet, tart, spicy, and savory flavors. You can make these syrups right at the bar in minutes. And if you blend them up ahead of time, they’ll be ready to go during peak business hours. 

While the traditional simple syrup is made over a stove, you can replicate the process using The Quiet One or a Vita-Prep® 3. As you’re not using a heat source, there’s no risk of overcooking. To make a flavored syrup, just add equal parts granulated sugar and water, along with a flavoring element, to the Aerating Container. Then process in The Quiet One by increasing the speed to 100% and blending for two minutes. The cycle will create just enough heat to fully dissolve the sugar and infuse flavors. 

The flavoring options are endless: Use herbs, spices, fruits, nuts, and more to create an assortment of syrups that are sweet, spicy, fruity, or tart. For example, create a ginger-flavored syrup by using thin slices of fresh ginger. Or, create a fruit-forward blend using whole strawberries. After blending, simply strain and store in a sealed container.

Another option: Purée ingredients without sugar to create potent shots of flavor. For example, make a fresh, spicy splash for drinks by blending jalapeño peppers and a small amount of water in The Quiet One®. Strain the purée before using. 

Balance with bitters.

If using simple or flavored syrups, you may want to balance the sweetness with a few drops of bitters. 

A trusted cocktail ingredient for decades, flavor- and aroma-laden bitters are especially effective in nonalcoholic concoctions where they can add signature notes of spice, herbs, licorice, mint, and more. They may also contribute an aromatic element, adding a quaint and unexpected dimension to the cocktail. 

Traditionally made by infusing a neutral spirit with herbs, roots, spices, and citrus, bitters may contain alcohol. However, this potent ingredient is used so sparingly that the amount of alcohol will likely be negligible.

When you add bitters to nonalcoholic beverages, they’ll gain the sophisticated headiness of traditional cocktails, such as bitterness, spice, citrus, and herbal notes, without the boozy effects.

As with beverages and syrups, you can purchase bitters premade, or you can make them yourself by blending bourbon in a Vitamix® Commercial blender with aromatic ingredients, such as dried fruit, chopped citrus peel, tree bark, or herbs. You will also need to let the mixture steep over several days and strain in a chinois. 

Amplify with texture. 

At this point, you may have achieved a balance of flavor and, if you want, you could stop there. But our suggestion: Adorn your adult beverage with “flavor pearls,” small, brightly colored beads containing concentrated bursts of flavor from fruit, spices, or vinegar. You can purchase pearls in a variety of flavors from specialty retailers. Or, if you’re ambitious, try your hand at making them in house. 

To make pearls, begin with a highly concentrated syrup that’s processed with thickening agents; then use a syringe to extrude the mixture, creating soft-shelled beads and dropping them in a calcium chloride bath. Stir these pearls into a nonalcoholic cocktail, and you have a beautiful beverage amplified with fun bursts of color and flavor. 

Fun in a glass. 

Pouring up a delightful beverage base that is enhanced with a flavored syrup, the lively notes of spices or herbs, and juicy textural elements creates an experience that will not want for spirits. 

Try it yourself by mixing a harmonious brew of flavor and refreshment. For instance, serve a housemade limeade on the rocks, laced with a ginger syrup, spicy bitters, and tart, fruity pearls. The result could be bold, surprising, and utterly enjoyable. 

Stephen Hosey is blending application manager and culinary team member at Vitamix, where he assists commercial customers with kitchen and bar efficiency, recipe creation and menu development. Contact him at [email protected].

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