Alcohol free mocktails do not need to be hard to prepare at home or when you are out at the homes of friends and relatives. Once you have got the ingredients you need and mastered a few recipes, you will be whipping up these delicious sober cocktails in two shakes of a lamb’s tail.
Check out these seven recipes to get you started. You can find more of my favourite alcohol free drinks and mocktails here.
The Alcohol Free Dark & Spicy
This is an alcohol-free version of a rum cocktail called the Dark ‘n’ Stormy which, to be authentic, must have Goslings Black Seal Rum as the base. This rum was brewed in Bermuda and when mixed with brewed ginger beer made a drink the colour of the clouds that make the Bermuda Triangle so infamous.
This mocktail version is not terribly dark in colour at all, surprisingly since it is made with a dark rum equivalent.
This is a tangy cocktail with a kick. Do add a little more of the alcohol-free rum if you are looking for a drink with extra bite and tang.
80ml alcohol-free rum (I used Lyre’s Spiced Cane Spirit)
20ml lime juice
100ml ginger beer
Stir ingredients together in glass.
Add ice and stir again.
Garnish with a slice of lime.
Lyre’s Spiced Cane Spirit is a really appealing rum-equivalent which is sweet and spicy at the same time. There are notes of caramel, molasses and toasted nuts. Very good!
Other alcohol-free rum-equivalents are Ronsin, made in Spain; and Stryk Not Rum from the UK.
The Dry Dry Martini
I’m sure that James Bond would appreciate the joys of a ‘dry dry’ martini cocktail, and let’s be honest, he’d be able to shoot straighter and drive a lot faster with this alcohol-free version. In his honour, we could make it ‘shaken not stirred’.
A traditional dry martini cocktail is made from gin and dry vermouth, shaken or stirred with ice to chill the liquid which is then strained into a small glass and served ice-free with an olive or a lemon slice.
This version is made from Lyre’s spirits, and there’s no need to just have a small glass as it won’t make you fall over.
This is a strong-flavoured drink to be sipped slowly and savoured. Enjoy the mouth-feel and the aftertaste. No sloshing it down.
80ml Lyre’s Dry London Spirit
20ml Lyre’s Apéritif Dry (chilled)
Stir or shake the two drinks together briefly with ice.
Strain the drink into a glass, ideally a chilled glass.
Garnish with an olive or a lemon twist. I also like a lime twist.
I actually prefer to keep the ice with the drink rather than strain it. No need to be a martini purist.
Lyre’s London Dry Spirit is a gin equivalent with strong juniper and citrus notes. The Apéritif Dry is a dry vermouth equivalent with citrus, anise and herb flavours. I find that both spirits are not as strong in flavour as their originals, but they do have a similar throat-burn, which is a surprise in an alcohol-free drink.
Vermouth, by the way, is actually a fortified wine, with spirit and botanicals added for extra flavour and punch. Vermouths were first produced in the 19th century in Italy. The best-known brands are Cinzano and Martini (confusingly). The Martini brand is now owned by the American Bacardi company, and has started producing two alcohol-free versions of vermouth, Martini Vibrante and Martini Floreale.
Kombucha Orange Fizz Mocktail
Kombucha is the new kid on the block when it comes to tipples that don’t make you tipsy. Mind you, kombucha has sprinted off the starting blocks and is now a runaway success worldwide.
This is no surprise as kombucha is very low-calorie and has health benefits from its probiotics – what’s not to love? Kombucha has quickly become a major competitor to sugary soft drinks as it’s so much better for you.
Nowadays, kombucha is seen as a great alternative to alcoholic drinks too, as with the right flavours it can be a very sophisticated, adult drink that feels like a treat, especially when you turn it into a clever cocktail.
20ml fresh lime juice
60ml orange cup
200ml kombucha, ideally a ginger-based one
Mix ingredients together in a large glass.
Add as much ice as you like.
Garnish with slices of orange.
Sit and sup, feeling smug.
Kombucha is fermented tea, usually with fruit added to flavour the drink after fermentation. Green or black tea is mixed with sugar then fermented using a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). Kombucha is a Japanese word, meaning red tea mushroom, however it is thought that kombucha was first produced in Manchuria. The history of kombucha appears as murky and impenetrable as the SCOBY itself.
Kombucha started to pop up on shelves in the 2000s and by now is universally available in many different forms. You will find all sorts of varieties in supermarkets and even in cafés, restaurants and bars.
And yes, you can make your own kombucha. I tried it when a friend gave me some of her SCOBY, and whilst the kombucha I made was quite enjoyable, and certainly cheap, I found that SCOBY was far too needy and so gave it away. Who needs another demanding child in the house?
The health benefits that are claimed for kombucha, like antioxidants and probiotics for healthy gut bacteria, may be true or mainly hot air. Those are not really what appeal to me, but the sweet and sour taste, the slight fizz and the lack of sugar all work for me. And I love how many flavour varieties you can now find.
In Australia Nexba has Cinnamon & Lime, Elderflower & Lemon, Apple and Pear & Ginger. Remedy Kombucha is also widely available in Australia – I am a slave to their Ginger Lemon and Raspberry Lemonade.
Our family came to kombucha when looking for a less sugary drink that the kids would like. Kombucha became their Friday night treat for years, whilst yours truly had a glass of wine, sometimes four or five. Nowadays there’s usually a bottle of kombucha in our fridge. It is an easy and enjoyable drink to keep on hand at home.
The Gunner: A Hong Kong Mocktail
This is the Gunner, an alcohol-free cocktail that originated in Hong Kong in colonial times.
There’s ginger beer and ginger ale, lime juice or cordial and a dash of Angostura bitters in the Gunner. The Gunner is zing-tastic and totally apt for scorching hot days.
The Gunner Ingredients
175ml ginger ale
175ml ginger beer
30ml lime juice (or lime cordial)
A dash of Angostura Bitters
Mix all ingredients together in a large glass with plenty of ice.
Garnish with slices of lemon or lime.
Angostura Bitters are 50% alcohol but this recipe includes just a dash so that’s all good with me.
Other recipes use a bit of tonic in the Gunner too, which is quite tasty. I believe that some pubs sell it on tap in the UK – how good would that be?
Note: what is the difference between ginger beer and ginger ale? Well, in short, ginger beers are generally fermented using yeast; they tend to be stronger in taste and less fizzy than ginger ale, which is a non-fermented ginger-flavoured soft drink and is usually fizzier than ginger beer.
A low-calorie or no-sugar ginger ale or ginger beer can be a fabulous drink on its own.
Seedlip Espresso Martini
If a short but sophisticated cocktail with a major kick is what you are after then try an alcohol-free Espresso Martini. And since it will not make you drunk, feel free to knock back a couple of these in the morning to get your workday going!
This cocktail used Seedlip Aromatic Spice 95, a sparky alcohol-free spirit which has plenty kick but zero calories. Winner.
I first tried this at a restaurant outside the Central West town of Orange. It felt like such a treat. I tend to drink fast so had to learn to slow down and sip with this one.
50ml Seedlip Spice 94
50ml cold brew coffee
15ml sugar syrup
Shake and double strain.
Serve in a coupe glass garnished with coffee beans.
This recipe is from the Seedlip website where you’ll find many more alcohol-free cocktail recipes. I have bought a bottle of Seedlip Spice 94 and enjoyed it with plain Indian tonic water, also with tonic and a bit of lime.
Seedlip Spice 94 is distilled from the Jamaican allspice berry, cardamom and citrus fruits; and also oak and cascarilla bark, both used in traditional medicines – who knew?
Lemon Myrtle Iced Tea
Iced teas make terrific refreshments for the sober-curious. Served over ice with a lemon twist or a fresh herb garnish, iced teas are a pretty and delicious alternative to alcohol, especially on a warm summer’s day.
Of course, you can make iced tea with any old tea, but I have really loved some of the more interesting options.
This is a lemon myrtle iced tea, with mint and raspberries added though they are not really needed. The simpler version is just as good, isn’t that just like life?
I buy lemon myrtle tea leaves at Scoop Wholefoods. Two teaspoons go into my glass pot with boiling water and a teaspoon of honey. Let the tea infuse for five minutes then pour off and cool.
Next pour the tea over ice and top with soda water. I find two thirds tea to one third soda is good. There’s no need to add the raspberries and mint, unless you are in search of prettiness to match the taste.
Lemon myrtle (backhousia citriodora) is a native Australian shrub, from the family Myrtaceae, which grows in the subtropical rainforests of central and south-eastern Queensland. It’s one of the best known Australian native herbs, and the tastiest.
Also check out the interesting teas you can find in the supermarket to serve chilled over ice with a citrus or herb garnish.
Angostura Bitters & Friends
The friends of Angostura Bitters are, of course, lemon and lime. Did you know that more than 100 million lemon, lime and bitters drinks are served in Australia each year, according to the ABC?
Angostura is the grandparent of all the different bitters that have become staples in cocktails all over the world. Bitters started off as medical tinctures, a concentrated form of a plant, dissolved in alcohol.
250ml lemonade (I use a low-sugar version)
30ml fresh lime juice
4-5 dashes Angostura Bitters
Mix all ingredients in a tall glass with ice.
Garnish with lemon and lime slices.
Sit back and relax.
The Angostura Story
A German gentleman, Dr Siegert, had moved to the town of Angostura in Venezuela to be Surgeon General of the army. In 1824, he created a medical tincture which he used to treat soldiers’ ailments. Over the next decades, he began manufacturing and exporting his Angostura Bitters.
Dr Siegert’s sons moved the business to Trinidad in the Caribbean where it thrived, with Angostura Bitters becoming central in the Golden Age of the Cocktail in the late 19th century. Angostura Bitters are used in two of the oldest and most classic cocktails, the Manhattan and the Old Fashioned.
Carlos Siegert, one of the sons, came to Australia in 1879 to promote the family’s Angostura Bitters. Well, that was a promo tour that worked really well!
The Angostura company now continues with their original bitters recipe and has added an Orange Bitters to the range.
The ingredients of and recipes for all these bitters are secret. All that we know for sure is that Angostura has gentian flowers in it, and other herbs, plants and spices.
These bitters are highly concentrated and have a very high alcohol content. However, since I only use a few dashes, I am happy to use them in non-alcoholic cocktails and mixed drinks.
Here in Australia, we also have the Australian Bitters company making Orange Bitters, Grapefruit Bitters,
Making AF Drinks Special
How good is it to dress up our drinks, just a little? I really never enjoyed the scent of wine when I was drinking alcohol, too busy chugging it down.
These more mindful days see me aiming to enjoy all the elements of a drink: taste, sight, smell, feel and even the sounds of bubbles or liquid pouring. Slowing down helps.
So does a sprig of rosemary from the garden, in a glass of @etchsparkling ZST. The scent as I sip is just divine.
Are you freeing up all your senses too, slowing down to taste the drinks, and then to taste the freedom of life hangover-free!
Try the Alcohol-Free Angry Mule for another colourful and pretty drink with a gingery kick.