Good mocktail recipes are hard to find. If you’re forgoing all booze for the first month of the year – or skipping alcohol for other reasons (be it temporary or permanent), that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a great cocktail. There are more than enough mocktail recipes out there to see you through any period of sobriety.
To get you started, we scoured the web for non-alcoholic versions of six classic cocktails. So grab a mixer and get ready to sip.
One of the Best Mocktail Recipes: The Old Fashioned
Pairs well with: a leather chair and a good book.
Credit for the invention of the Old Fashioned Cocktail is generally given to a 19th-century Kentucky bartender. Now a staple at most bars, the drink features an aromatic mixture of bourbon and Angostura bitters, topped off with an orange peel.
One of our favorite mocktail recipes, The Old Fashioned Mocktail starts with a slow-brewed pot of barley tea, which replaces the bourbon in a recipe that’s otherwise the same.
Prepare the tea in advance by placing a barley tea bag into four cups of cold water. Let it brew in the refrigerator for two hours.
When the tea is ready, muddle the sugar and bitters together in the bottom of a rocks glass. Stir in two ounces of the brewed tea, and add ice and an orange slice to finish it off.
Pairs well with: A rewatch of The Great Gatsby.
First appearing in Europe at the end of World War I, the Sidecar was iconic to the Roaring Twenties, a decade somehow known for both strict prohibition and excessive consumption of alcohol. While the specifics vary, the standard recipe calls for cognac, triple sec, and lemon juice.
Like the Old Fashioned, a Sober Sidecar starts with tea, blended together with the traditional lemon juice as well as marmalade and honey, and it’s one of our most highly recommended mocktail recipes.
Prepare the tea according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If prepared hot, allow it to cool and then chill in the refrigerator. A standard black tea can be substituted for the lapsang souchong.
Pour a small amount of sugar onto a plate and wet the rim of a coupe or martini glass with a lemon wedge. Turn the glass upside down into the sugar to coat. Set it in the freezer to chill.
Combine the two ounces of the tea with the juice and marmalade in a cocktail shaker, stirring them together. Add the honey and fill the shaker halfway with ice. Shake until the ingredients are fully mixed, and strain into the chilled glass. Garnish with an orange slice.
Pairs well with: Binge-watching Sex and the City with your (socially distanced) best friend.
Easily recognizable by its vibrant rosy color, the Cosmo emerged out of the 1970s or 80s. It burst into widespread appeal when it was scripted as the drink of choice for the characters of TV’s Sex and the City.
Cosmopolitans are typically made with vodka, but the spirit’s barely-there flavor makes the drink easy to replicate for the booze-free crowd. Of all the mocktail recipes out there, this one tastes the closest to the original.
Combine cranberry juice and lime juice in a cocktail shaker and shake until combined well. Stir in the sparkling water and pour into a chilled martini glass. Add the orange juice.
Pairs well with: Listening to vinyl records on a turntable.
Hailing from Italy, the Negroni is another product of the late 1910s. Incidentally, this is also when the Spanish Flu gripped the world; it would seem that drinking our way through a pandemic isn’t a new idea.
While the full-strength version features gin, vermouth, Campari, and an orange peel, its sober cousin relies on white grape juice and a DIY syrup of citrus and aromatic spices.
Pomegranate or beet juice (optional, for coloring)
1 ounce spiced grapefruit syrup
1 oz white grape juice
a splash cold water (roughly 1 oz)
A single orange slice (for garnish)
Gently crush the coriander pods, then roughly chop the grapefruit. Add both to a saucepan with the orange, sugar, water, and coriander. Bring to a simmer and allow the mixture to cook for about five minutes, breaking up the fruit with the back of a spoon as they begin to soften.
When the fruit is soft, remove the syrup from the heat and allow it to cool. Strain the syrup and discard the solid pieces. If using pomegranate or beet juice for coloring, add a few drops to the remaining liquid.
Pour equal parts syrup, grape juice, and water over ice in a rocks glass or tumbler. Stir to combine and garnish with an orange slice.
Gin and Tonic
Pairs well with: Planning a post-pandemic trip overseas.
A Gin and Tonic is the simplest drink on the list, with just two ingredients, but that makes it all the more challenging to recreate. How do you replicate the distinct floral notes of gin? The answer is an infusion of juniper, coriander, and anise.
Warm a small pan over medium heat and add the juniper, coriander, anise, and cardamom. Toast for a few minutes until fragrant, stirring occasionally. Remove the spices from the pan and place in a medium bowl. Add the lemon zest and wine and cover with plastic wrap. Place the bowl in the refrigerator for a day to let the flavors mingle. Then strain and discard the solid pieces. Note: Juniper berries are not safe for women who are pregnant or breast-feeding.
Add ice to a chilled rocks glass or tumbler. Use the lemon wedge to lightly wet the rim, then squeeze a little juice into the glass and follow it with the wedge. Pour two ounces of the white wine infusion and the tonic water over the ice and stir gently. Top with the rosemary.
Keep the wine infusion in the refrigerator for up to one month. You can even use it to expand your mocktail repertoire with other gin-based cocktails, such as a Tom Collins.
Pairs well with: Taco Tuesday
A staple of Cinco de Mayo festivities (in the United States, at least), the Margarita dates back to the 1930s or so. The drink is something like a larger, mixed-up version of a tequila shot, with lime, salt, and, of course, tequila. This Mindful Margarita features all of the refreshing citrus flavors of the drink without the booze.
Pour a small amount of salt on a plate. Wet the rim of a margarita glass with a lime wedge and turn upside down into the salt to coat. Save the lime wedge for a garnish.
For a frozen margarita, combine the juices, agave syrup, and seltzer in a blender with half a cup of ice cubes. Blend until smooth and pour into the glass. To make a margarita on the rocks, add the juices and syrup to a cocktail mixer with ice and shake until combined. Pour into the glass and add the seltzer along with a lime wedge.
You can feel good about waking up without a hangover when you try these mocktail recipes!