Mocktails get a bad wrap — for good reason.
If you order a mocktail at your average pub, you might get something sickly sweet — and expensive too.
But it’s possible to create something “a little bit more sophisticated,” says Nat Battaglia, who runs a site dedicated to mocktail recipes.
She recommends using fresh ingredients and says it can help if you’re not trying to replicate existing cocktails.
Bonus: You won’t have to shell out for non-alcoholic spirits, which can be pricey and limit you to a particular type of drink.
What ingredients work best?
Nat recommends using whatever fresh fruit is in season — or on special at the supermarket.
She tends to avoid blenders in her recipes unless absolutely necessary, as it adds an extra step in mixing a drink and washing up.
Instead, she says you can just muddle your fruit in a cocktail shaker, or even in the glass itself.
Mixers other than soft drink and juice
Adding something sparkling can make a non-alcoholic drink feel a bit more special.
Nat suggests soda or tonic water, or non-alcoholic sparkling wine sold at the supermarket.
Another favourite base is kombucha, or if you don’t like fizz, coconut water is another great option.
Tea can also be an inexpensive mocktail addition.
Nat uses peppermint tea for a “fresh minty hit” or berry tea for something sweeter.
You can just brew a cup to packet instructions, chill it in the fridge, and then combine it with your other ingredients.
Something with zing
If you want your mocktail to have a bit more depth than your average fruit punch, Nat says you’ll need to get creative.
Some of her go-tos include bitters, and vinegars such as apple cider or even balsamic.
“It just replaces that zing you would normally get from the alcohol … it offers that little bit of balance and extra flavour,” Nat says.
To find the heat you’d normally get from alcohol, she says adding grated ginger works well, especially in a virgin mojito.
Adding extra sweetness
Ripe fruit will be naturally sweet and, if you’re topping up your drink with something like coconut water, you might not need to add any extra.
But if your drink needs a bit of sweetness, Nat often uses monk-fruit sweetener, which derives from the South Asian monk fruit. It’s a natural “intense sweetener”, meaning it’s much sweeter than sugar, and can be used in smaller amounts.
Maple syrup and honey are other options.
Time to get mixing – equipment and presentation
You don’t need a fancy cocktail set to make drinks at home.
Nat says you can use a jar or anything with a tight lid in lieu of a shaker.
If you don’t have a muddler, the end of a wooden spoon or similar will work a treat.
Nat’s a “huge garnish person,” and says a lime round can go a long way.
You can also have fun with salt and sugar rims or adding a few sprigs of mint or basil leaves which look and smell great.
She says investing in some nice glasses will also go a long way.
“Some of us just love throwing everything in a plastic tumbler and hoping for the best,” Nat says.
“But I just love fancy glassware – I swear it makes the drink taste better.”
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