Non-alcoholic cocktails are trending. Find tasty mocktail ideas (Pina Colada mocktail, anyone?) and expert tips on making the best mocktails in our handy guide.
Once a mere afterthought, the non-alcoholic cocktail has grown up and is finally getting the attention it deserves. Sophisticated, complex and flavourful, modern mocktails replicate the pleasure of a premium drinking experience. And with the moderation trend showing no signs of abating (low and no alcohol drinks are expected to grow 31 per cent in volume by 2024, according to the IWSR), now is a good time to elevate your mocktail drinks.
So, if you’re looking for the best non-alcoholic drink for an alcohol party, or simply aiming to drink more mindfully, take your cues from an expert for making the best mocktails.
We asked Astro, Experience Director and mixologist from Melbourne’s Brunswick Aces Bar – Australia’s first non-alcoholic bar – for his top tricks and hacks to help take your mocktail recipes to the next level.
The answer to the question, what is the difference between a cocktail and a mocktail, is easy. A mocktail has no alcohol. Apart from that the two drinks should be treated with the same respect, so approach your mocktails like a mixologist would.
“Just throwing something into a glass and hoping for the best isn’t going to work out,” says Astro. “A mocktail, just like a cocktail, needs to appeal to all the senses.”
Forget the overly sweet, fluoro-coloured juicy concoctions of before; good taste is imperative, but so too is appearance, aroma, the feel of the glass and the sound of tinkling ice cubes.
The best mocktails call for fresh, good quality ingredients and can be easily spiced up with a dash of cinnamon, star anise or Australian Bitters for an intense flavour burst. Looking for delicious, simple mocktail ideas? Try freshly blended pineapple juice and chia seeds for a next level Pina Colada Mocktail, make your own zesty homemade ginger ale for a healthy riff on a Shirley Temple (the most obvious answer to the question of what is the world’s number one mocktail drink), and brew premium organic coffee with fresh vanilla to elevate your Cold Brew Julep.
With sophisticated alcohol-free spirits and delicious botanical blends hitting the shelves, making easy mocktail recipes has never been, well, easier. Seedlip Grove and Lyre’s Italian Spritz will add depth and complexity to your drinks and can be used instead of traditional spirits.
To obtain the right balance of flavour when using replacements in mocktails, Astro advises to “always measure, and use the ratio rule – three parts spirit/non-alcoholic spirit, to two parts sour, to one part sweet. As taste is subjective, use a recipe as a base and experiment to perfect the flavour to your palate. And when you get it right, write it down.”
“Using the right glass, garnish and presentation can help elevate your experience before you even take a sip,” says Astro.
He advises always using fresh and creative garnishes, for both aroma and visual appeal. “A slice of lime floating listlessly in your glass isn’t going to cut it!” he says.
When using a non-alcoholic spirit as a base, look to see what is recommended as a garnish or what works with the flavour profile, and don’t be afraid to change things up a little. For example, you can swap out regular limes with gourmet finger limes to garnish your Virgin Rickey or Mojito Mocktail.
If you are wondering which is the best mocktail garnish combination, look to classic food pairings for inspiration – think blueberry and mint, strawberry and basil, apple and cinnamon.
And of course, in the warmer months, the best summer mocktails are served chilled. “Don’t use small pieces of ice,” warns Astro, “they will melt and dilute the drink you have so carefully created.” His tip: Use large cubes, spheres and icicle-style poles which are slower to melt.
Glassware is also key. “If the mocktail recipe calls for a long glass, make sure to use a long glass to achieve the right balance of flavours, but also for the experience,” says Astro.
Just because you are abstaining doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a pleasurable drinking experience, so do your non alcoholic mocktails justice. “From the slow-melting ice cubes chinking in the glass, to the fragrant aroma of your garnish, to the atmosphere you create with music, everything helps elevate your experience,” says Astro.