Mocktails for a “dry” January

Marcel Proust once wrote “It is always during a passing state of mind that we make lasting resolutions.” Or was it the other way around? Well, we are only one week into 2022, so those resolutions should still be in high gear, either way. And one resolution many make, is to have an alcohol free January.

But just because you are alcohol free doesn’t mean you cannot participate in fancy drinks. One of the difficult things about making nonalcoholic cocktails is that alcohol packs not only a big flavor punch (just ask many American winemakers) but also adds a heaviness, or weight, to any drink. Put some alcohol in your mouth and immediately you know its alcohol. Add into the equation that the ritual of making drinks, or pouring wine, or even opening a beer, is part of the process and suddenly a cranberry and soda water doesn’t really cut it anymore.

The trick is to add ingredients that add pizzaz. Hot peppers, spices, sweet or sour syrups all help replace both the feel of liquor, and in some cases the burn. And who doesn’t like a great presentation? After all a martini in a paper cup without an olive is still the same drink, only we all know that it really isn’t.

On that note we have assembled a few teetotaler specials to help get you through January (or whenever) in fancy style, all localized, of course, for your consumption. 

Virgin Mary

5 ounces organic tomato juice

¼ ounce Hoisin (scant teaspoon)

½ teaspoon garlic chili paste (sambal oelek, siracha, Calabrian, gochujang) *

1 dash fish sauce

½ teaspoon lemon pepper

1 pinch wasabi salt

1 pinch celery seed

1 pickled jalapeno

1 frilly celery stick

Combine all liquid ingredients in a mixing glass and stir. Add lemon pepper, wasabi salt and celery seed, and stir again. Pour into an ice filled pint glass and garnish with the jalapeno and celery stick.

The original Bloody Mary (with alcohol) was designed as a so-called hangover “cure.” Redoing a toxin to avoid the health letdown from that toxin is not really a cure, but that is a discussion for another time. In a “dry” environment, eliminating the toxin totally is the goal, and this drink does so with an abundance of flavor. Some believe the Bloody Mary was named for Queen Mary I of England, which makes naming a drink a Virgin Mary somewhat ironic, since her sister and successor, Queen Elizabeth I never married, and was known as the “virgin” queen. Mary herself married the King of Spain, and was pregnant twice, making her both Queen of England in her own right, and the Queen Consort of Spain. Elizabeth only had two of the four.

*Note: Not all garlic chili pastes are the same. Sambal has a bright hot flavor, siracha is milder, Calabrian is hotter still, and gochujang has a touch of umami thanks to fermentation.

Mock Mai Tai

2 ounces fresh squeezed orange juice

1 ounce good quality canned pineapple juice

½ ounce Sonoma Syrup Co. Grenadine*

½ ounce Sonoma Syrup Co. Orgeat*

1 paper thin pineapple slice

1 Merry Maraschino all natural cherry with stem

Place pineapple slice inside a 10 to 12 ounce stemmed fancy glass (hurricane, thistle etc.) sticking it to the inside of the glass. Fill the glass with ice. Build in order of liquid ingredients. The specific gravities of each liquid will cause the orange juice and pineapple to layer, and the grenadine and Orgeat to sink, creating a rainbow effect. Place cherry on top. Stir before drinking.

*Both grenadine and orgeat (pronounced or-zhat) are classic cocktail syrups that are non-alcoholic. Grenadine is made from pomegranates and orgeat is made from almonds. Great versions are both available from the Sonoma Syrup Co.

Yuzu Blackberry Daiquiri

3 ounces Perfect Puree blackberry*

2 ounces Perfect Puree Yuzu Luxe sour**

1 ounce agave syrup

1 lemon for grating

Fill a serving glass with ice, transfer ice to an electric blender cup. Add blackberry puree, yuzu, and agave syrup. Blend on low until roughly combined, increasing to high until smooth. Pour back into serving glass (heaping slightly over the top of the glass. Finely grate lemon peel on top making sure to only use the yellow part. Serve with two reusable metal/plastic/glass straws.

Fresh berries and citrus are hard to come by in the wintertime. The Perfect Puree of Napa Valley makes it easy by providing both frozen high quality fruit purees and frozen juices.

*You may substitute any fruit puree in this recipe.

** this is a combination of Yuzu (a Japanese citrus) lemongrass, and Kaffir lime. Meyer lemon works equally well but gives slightly orangey flavor. If using regular lemon juice, double the amount of agave.

Mock Mexican/Kentucky/British Mule

3 ounces Free Spirits “Spirit of Tequila”, or “Spirit of Bourbon” or “Spirit of Gin” *

4 ounces Revive Ginger Lime Kombucha**

1 lime wheel

1 mint plant top

1 copper mug

Fill copper mug with ice. Add “Spirit” of choice and kombucha. Stir and garnish with the lime wheel and mint sprig.

The copper mug is really all show. But what a great show! Without it mules are just highballs, and without the alcohol, a highball is just a soda.

For two fun versions, try blending the liquid ingredients in an electric blender with ice or, instead of using ice, substitute a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

*Founded by Marinite Milan Martin, Free Spirits “spirits” all use capsicum to help replicate the mouthfeel of liquor. It’s not an exact match but they do work well in cocktails.

**Launched at a Sonoma County farmer’s market Revive Kombucha makes several cocktail friendly kombuchas. revive tends to taste lest vinegary than many other kombuchas and the company utilizes flavor profiles many people are already familiar with: cola, root beer, etc.