Best mocktail ingredients to stock your home bar during Dry January

The Dry January phenomenon offers consumers the opportunity to take a break from booze and embrace mocktails as a way to enjoy the pleasures of drinking minus the buzz. Denver resident Elliott Clark, known as the Apartment Bartender, likes being more aware of his drinking habits this time of year, but contends non-alcoholic beverages shouldn’t be limited to a single month of healthy habits.

“There are times when people aren’t drinking and that doesn’t necessarily mean just January. When someone is pregnant or choosing to be sober, non-alcoholic cocktails are about inclusivity,” Clark said.

Bars are good about tapping into the Dry January movement. In Denver, for example, Señor Bear in the Highland neighborhood, Poka Lola Social Club near Union Station, and Nocturne Jazz and Supper Club in Five Points all have specialty mocktail menus available for a limited time. And they’re not too pricy: Señor Bear’s sober frozen libations cost $9, while Poka Lola’s N/A classic cocktails range from $10 to $12. At Nocturne, guests can add mocktail pairings to a fixed, three-course meal for $27.

Still, for the price of a few non-alcoholic beverages, locals can stock their home bars with ingredients that make for a great alcohol-free drink experience in the comfort of their own kitchens.

“The mindset behind non-alcoholic cocktails is really just, ‘Are you putting the same thought and intention into a drink as you would, say, an Old Fashioned or a negroni? Are you garnishing it? Are you using nice ice? Are you taking the time to shake it in a cocktail shaker?’ ” Clark said. “That makes it feel like part of the ritual, but without the booze.”

We recently connected with Clark to get his list of essentials as well as a mocktail recipe so tasty, you’ll forget there’s no alcohol in it.

Best N/A cocktail ingredients

When crafting a mocktail, Clark aims to mimic the complexity of a spirit with other components, and one of his go-tos is tea. It’s a versatile ingredient that comes in many different flavors, allowing for a variety of mocktail flavor profiles.

“A green tea, a chai tea, really any kind of tea like jasmine or honey-ginger,” Clark said. “For example, if you’re making a gimlet or daiquiri — where you have your gin, lime juice and simple syrup, or rum, lime juice and simple syrup — you can just sub out the spirit for the tea, and it’s a refreshing, citrusy cocktail with tea instead of a spirit.”

Green tea, black tea and chai spice tea lend themselves particularly well to cocktails typically paired with cold weather, while honey, ginger and lavender teas work well with warm-weather drinks, Clark said. But it’s really up to the drinker’s preference and what they’re craving.

Other essential ingredients include coconut water, which offers more flavor than distilled water, and soda or any other carbonated beverage that can add a sensory “pop,” Clark said. There are also numerous alcohol-free spirits that drinkers can buy that are flavored to resemble liquor profiles. Some of Clark’s favorite brands include Seedlip and Ritual Zero-Proof.

And just because that drink is a mocktail doesn’t mean it should go ungarnished. Herbs such as rosemary, sage, mint and thyme will add both aromatic and aesthetic qualities that elevate any beverage.

“I always say a drink is never done until it’s garnished,” Clark said. “Take that extra time to throw razzle dazzle on it.”

Sparkling Honey Grapefruit N/A Cocktail

Start your N/A cocktail journey with one of the Apartment Bartender’s original recipes, featuring many of the essential ingredients that will stock your bar for the mocktails to come.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces green tea
  • 1 ounce fresh grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 3/4 ounce homemade honey syrup or store-bought agave nectar or simple syrup
  • 2 ounces sparkling water
  • Rosemary sprig for garnish

Directions

In a Collins glass, combine all ingredients over ice and lightly stir to combine. Garnish with a grapefruit wedge and a sprig of rosemary.

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