Booze has been a regular attendee at celebrations, ceremonies, rituals, and plain old get-togethers worldwide for roughly 10,000 years. So it’s no small surprise that out of all of our vices and habits, alcohol seems to be one of the most normalized. Turning down a cigarette is health-forward; turning down a drink is uptight. There are plenty of reasons to turn down a drink, so why the stigma?
To say it’s “how it’s always been done” seems a bit rudimentary, but that’s the thick of it. Alcohol is highly accessible, widely accepted, and is even protected by the constitutional right of religious freedom. Paired with the alcohol industry’s major economic impact and one failed Prohibition under Uncle Sam’s belt, to imbibe is to be a fun-loving American citizen! Right?
Not quite. There are several reasons to avoid alcohol: liver disease, increased risk of cancer, fetal alcohol syndrome, weight gain, increased depression and anxiety, acceleration of the aging process, alcoholism, and on the list goes. If the bottomless buckets of mimosas are looking a bit murky to you now, fear not! Despite societal norms and popular opinion, sober soirees don’t have to be a boring affair of ice water, tea, and soda.
Non-alcoholic cocktails—or mocktails—have gained popularity as more folks turn to healthier, booze-free lifestyles. Whether you’re looking to ditch the drink for good or are taking it easy for the night, these 12 mocktails provide all of the tasty flavor and “grown-up” aesthetic of your favorite boozy concoctions without the blackouts, embarrassing late-night texts, and hangovers. Bottoms up!
Spiced Cider Punch
Apple cider, orange juice concentrate, and ginger ale are mixed with sugar, cinnamon, and allspice in this deliciously spiced cider punch from Taste and Tell. The warm blend of cozy spices cuts through the zesty tang of the apple cider, concentrate, and ginger ale for a crisp and refreshing drink that tastes like fall in a glass.
Moscow Mules are a cocktail staple. Known for their traditional copper mug that keeps the spicy ginger beer, lime, and booze icy cold until the very last drop, mules have grown past the classic Moscow Mule with vodka to a Kentucky Mule (with bourbon) or a Mexican Mule (with tequila). Although this recipe nixes the booze regardless of locale, the bright flavor of small-batch ginger beer packs more than enough punch on its own.
- In a large mug, combine one bottle of Fever-Tree Ginger Beer, 1 tbsp freshly-squeezed lime juice, and 4-5 mint leaves (or 1 tsp of mint syrup) over ice. Stir, sip, enjoy.
Pro tip: I find Fever-Tree to be the best brand of ginger beer for spicy and sweet ginger-lovers alike. If you’re like me and enjoy quite a bit of heat, try this bold, mouthwatering Red Hot Ginger Ale from Blenheim.
Pineapple Hibiscus Mocktail
This equally refreshing and gorgeous mocktail from Dessert for Two blends fresh ginger, dried hibiscus flowers, fresh pineapple, and cilantro for a bright, tangy, and sweet flavor. Ginger syrup and hibiscus tea is made from scratch and added to freshly squeezed pineapple juice. A few bruised sprigs of cilantro add a touch of flavor without having to buy an expensive vial of tinctures or bitters.
Let’s take it back to the basics. Shirley Temples were first made for the namesake herself in the late 1930s by a bartender at Chasen’s in Beverly Hills. The sweet drink features lemon-lime soda, ginger ale, and a dash of grenadine, garnished with a maraschino cherry. It’s pink, it’s delicious, and if we’re being honest, it’s been my go-to drink choice at restaurants and self-serve soda fountains ever since I was a kid.
- In a large glass, pour equal parts lemon-lime soda and ginger ale over ice. Add a dash of grenadine and stir. Place a maraschino cherry (or two) on top, and enjoy.
Swap booze for a boost with this caffinated lime mocktail from Delish. This drink features a limited edition lime Red Bull, white grape juice, and a colorful array of sliced cucumbers, limes, and strawberries. This lime zinger is tart, tangy, and has the perfect amount of caffeine to keep the party going late.
Virgin White Sangria
Ah, sangria—the classy version of hooch, if we’re all being totally honest. This delicious concoction of wine, something carbonated, schnapps, and fresh fruit is easy to make and even easier to change up. Modify your fruit recipe to cater to your specific tastes, a color theme, or what you need to use up in your fridge. Just pour, stir, sit, and serve.
- In a large pitcher, pour in one bottle of lemon-lime soda and one bottle of apple juice or white grape juice. Wash, thinly slice, and pop the seeds out of oranges, lemons, grapefruit, or limes, and add them to your pitcher. Add your favorite kinds of berries, peaches, grapes, pitted cherries, or sliced apples. For additional flavor, add a few sprigs of mint, rosemary, or basil.
- Refrigerate, covered, for at least three hours. Serve over ice.
Because sometimes, a celebration calls for a fluted glass of something bubbly and delicious (this is perfect for baby showers). Love Bakes Good Cakes created an easy-to-make, mouthwatering, and alcohol-free champagne dupe with ginger ale, pineapple juice, and grape juice. Yum.
Alcohol-Free French 75
French 75s are a lesser-known cocktail with a sophisticated palate: bright and bold lemon juice is mixed with bitter gin and sliced down the middle by bubbly champagne. You can recreate this interesting drink with four ingredients and a couple of minutes. (Be forewarned, however, that many brands of bitters contain trace amounts of alcohol.)
- Add ice, 4-5 tbsp of freshly-squeezed lemon juice, 1 tsp sugar, and 4 dashes of lemon or orange bitters to a cocktail shaker, and shake until frosty.
- Pour into a glass and top with cold tonic water. Serve immediately.
Caramel Apple Pie Mocktail
There’s something undeniably cozy about the flavor combo of crisp apples and warm caramel, whether it’s an actual apple dipped in caramel or baked into cakes, set into lollipops, and yes, even transformed into a sippable drink. This Caramel Apple Pie mocktail from Merry About Town uses apple cider, caramel syrup, sparkling water, warm spices, and fragrant rosemary to create an irresistible treat perfect for cool weather.
The long-loved cocktail of Mexico has shadowy origins, but regardless of who created this beloved beverage, they certainly made a drink that could stand the test of time. Palomas are the quintessential flavor experience: bitter grapefruit, tangy lime, sweet agave nectar, and a salted rim satisfy all your tastebuds. This easy recipe for a virgin Paloma does just that without any morning-after woes.
- Add equal parts lime juice, grapefruit juice, and agave syrup to a tall glass with ice. Add sea salt to your taste, stir, and enjoy.
Honey Berry Kombucha Smash
You had me at kombucha! This divisive fermented tea is the main star of this blueberry, honey, and raspberry-filled mocktail, so if you’re not a fan of kombucha, steer clear. (Or let us help you find the best kombucha brand for you to love!) Also, keep in mind that kombucha can contain trace amounts of alcohol (less than .5% ABV). This kombucha mocktail from How Sweet Eats takes all the best fruity, spicy, and tart flavors and muddles them up into one impressive beverage.
Seedlip Spice and Tonic
This unique and tasty mocktail is made with a distilled, non-alcoholic spirit called Seedlip Spice 94, an aromatic blend of Allspice berries, cardamom, grapefruit, lemon peels, oak, and cascarilla bark. It’s tasty enough to drink on its own, but we make it fancy with a few extra ingredients for the sake of mixology.
- Add 2 oz. Seedlip Spice 94 to a glass with ice. Add tonic syrup and tonic water to taste. Garnish with star anise and cinnamon stick.