The mocktail. It’s a thing. A very popular adult thing, as evidenced by the proliferation of non-alcoholic products available in the marketplace. Of course, it’s nice to pop some champagne, make a toast to the season, and share conviviality with friends, coworkers and family at this time of year, but we’ve noticed a definite trend toward choosing adult drinks that are delicious, yet which can be enjoyed without any of the (potentially negative) effects of alcohol. There’s non-alcoholic beer, wine, and even spirits. Of course, bars have been coming up with non-alcoholic cocktail options ("Shirley Temple," anyone?) for decades. You can do it at home, too.
To make a sophisticated mocktail at home, look to companies like Seedlip, which claims to be making the "world’s first distilled non-alcoholic spirit." Their sugar- and sweetener-free, zero-calorie products are based on distilled non-alcoholic remedies from the classic Art of Distillation, written by Dr. John French in 1651. Seedlip is based in England, and their products are available at some stores in the US or online.
They offer various concoctions with a variety of flavor profiles, and you can even download their free recipe booklet to get some ideas for yourself [seedlipdrinks.com]. Their Garden 108 blends herbal and floral notes—it’s made with peas and hay, fused with distillates from traditional English countryside plants. Spice 94 is distilled from allspice, berry, cardamom, bark and citrus, resulting in an aromatic and complex profile. Lastly, their Grove 42 combines oranges, lemon peel, ginger and lemongrass distillates with a bit of Japanese Sansho peppercorn. According to the Seedlip website, all of these work well simply mixed with tonic, garnished with a sprig or twist of something.
In addition, their recipe booklet offers suggestions from the simple ("Garden Booch," two ounces of their Garden 108 topped with passion fruit kombucha, on the rocks with a mint leaf garnish) to the Espresso Martino (Two ounces of Spice 94, shaken and double strained with two ounces of cold brew concentrate, and half an ounce of simple syrup. Garnish with three coffee beans and a mint leaf and serve in a coupe.) Refreshing and delicious, and no headache in the morning.
Of course, almost any drink can be made without alcohol—look for recipes from trusted sources like Food and Wine magazine or the everything-drinks site, Imbibe.
Here’s one we found from The Spruce Eats (thespruceeats.com) that works well for kids and grownups alike. (It’s by writer Colleen Graham, a mixologist with a passion for creating and sharing great cocktails and mixed drinks that enrich everyday life.)
Graham gives the proportions for making one serving, but this can easily be multiplied, and even made into a punch that everyone can enjoy. Making some of the elements at home can add to the festive feeling and pride in serving a "craft" mocktail. If you prepare the simple syrup, pomegranate juice, and lemonade ahead of time, assembling the mocktail at party-time will be easier and quicker.
Holiday Pomegranate "Mojito"
1/2 ounce mint simple syrup (see below for ingredients and directions)
2 lime wedges
2 ounces pomegranate juice (fresh is best—and easy; store-bought works too)
2 ounces lemonade (see note on pomegranate juice)
2 ounces club soda (alternatively, use a light citrus soda, like San Pellegrino Orange, Q Lemon or Orange)
Pomegranate seeds and sprigs of mint for garnish
For the mint syrup:
1 cup sugar
2 cups water
2 sprigs of mint (rinsed)
Make the mint simple syrup
Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly to dissolve the sugar.
Add the whole mint sprigs.
Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes.
Remove from heat and allow to cool. Steep for 2 to 3 hours to get a more intense mint flavor. Taste to test.
Remove the mint, using a fine mesh strainer if needed.
Transfer to an air-tight container and label with the flavor and date.
Juice the pomegranate
Check online for various methods—some place the seeds in a plastic bag and gently crush them to release the juice, then cut a corner off and drain out the juice. It can also be done in a blender or food processor, with a few quick pulses.
Make the lemonade
Most simple recipes involves juicing 3-5 pounds of lemons to get 1 1/2 to 2 cups of lemon juice. Combine with simple syrup made with white sugar, or use the sweetener of your choice to taste—some like honey, or maple syrup. Then mix with water to taste (around 8–10 cups).
Make the mojito
Muddle the syrup and lime in a highball glass.
Fill the glass with ice.
Add the pomegranate juice and lemonade. Stir well.
Top with soda of your choice.
Garnish with pomegranate seeds and fresh mint.
Make a toast and enjoy!