Just because you’re sober curious doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy a refreshing beverage. Alcohol-free alternatives to cocktails, or mocktails, are a serious upgrade to your sober evenings.
Mocktails emerged as a sober-friendly option for a night out, or in, that was a little more interesting than a glass of soda. These elevated drink recipes look and taste similar to a cocktail but without the booze.
We’ve rounded up the most essential tips for making your own sophisticated mocktails, as well as the 8 mocktail recipes you have to try. Your new obsession is here: craft mocktails.
- What is the difference between a cocktail and a mocktail? While they may have similar recipes, a mocktail has no alcohol, and a cocktail does.
- Why are they called mocktails? Mocktails derive their name from the words “mock cocktails.” They evoke a similar feeling to alcoholic beverages, but contain no alcohol. There are even sober bars dedicated to crafting the best mock cocktails around.
- What if I want a simpler non-alcoholic option? You can try a great non-alcoholic beer, like Athletic Brewing, Surreal Brewing, or Bravus Brewing. We know your new non-alcoholic favorite for wine lovers: Surely Sparkling Rose (which also goes well in mocktails).
- Which is the best mocktail? The best mocktails include virgin mojitos, bellinis, margaritas, and sangrias, as well as delicious original recipes.
- How many types of mocktails are there? There are countless mocktails — your imagination is the only limit. The varieties range from virgin versions of classics to innovative options like the Lady Lavender Mocktail or Caramel Apple Pie Mocktail.
Tip 1: Start with Quality
Here’s the problem with some mocktails: they rely heavily on mediocre ingredients, coming out syrupy, sugary, or feeling like a kids-only substitute. No one wants to drink a syrupy Shirley Temple all night.
Low-quality mocktails can kill your vibe. That’s why you should change out your options.
- Bubbles. Instead of an off-brand soft drink, try Spindrift, Q Mixers, or one of your local craft soda brands.
- Produce. Instead of bottled lime juice, dried herbs, or pre-cut/frozen fruits, opt for fresher alternatives.
- Syrups. We recommend making them at home, from scratch, for the absolute best flavor. If not, choose a well-crafted option.
- Glassware. Don’t put your mocktail into a mug — what would your grandmother say? Putting your non-alcoholic beverage into a beautiful piece of barware increases the enjoyment. (We promise.)
Once you’ve committed to quality, it’s time to find your faves.
Tip 2: Choose Your Base
You’ll need to know what you enjoy to find your favorite mocktails.
- Maybe you love fruit juice or a fizzy main ingredient like a craft soda.
- Perhaps you like a non-alcoholic beer paired with grapefruit juice (called a Radler) or Bloody Mary mix (called a Michelada).
- You may love the taste of spirits without their effects. Try a zero-proof spirit like Lyre or Ritual if your mocktail follows a traditional recipe, the NA way.
Once you know your favorite mocktail base, you can find recipes you know you’re sure to enjoy. Personally, we love recipes with a bit of non-alcoholic rose.
Tip 3: Garnish Well
Garnishes aren’t just the finishing touch; they can often be the star of the show. It’s one of a bartender’s best-kept secrets: The garnish on a drink can elevate the whole experience. The same can be said for your at-home mocktails.
It’s worth taking the time to buy and use beautiful garnishes to take your drinks from tasty to tasteful.
Recipe 1: Lady Lavender Mocktail
This is the perfect springtime beverage, blending a fresh pastel purple color with a seasonal floral twist. This recipe from The Merry Thought is a great choice to sip while picnicking.
- 1/4 cup Fresh Lemon Juice
- 1 1/2 tbsp Lavender Simple Syrup (See below)
- 1/4 tsp Grenadine
- 3 dashes Bitters
- Combine all ingredients with ice in a shaker.
- After shaking, strain into a glass — coupe is preferable.
- Top off with soda water to taste.
- Garnish with a sprig of fresh lavender.
Recipe 2: Sparkling Peach Sunrise
If you’re looking for a new brunch beverage with just a few ingredients, this concoction is your new go-to. Thanks to The Spruce Eats for the simple, apricot-colored recipe.
- 1/3 cup fresh peach juice
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup lemon-lime soda, to taste
- 1 1/2 tablespoons grenadine
- Gather the ingredients.
- Pour the peach juice over ice.
- Fill with soda.
- Slowly pour the grenadine into the drink — it will sink to the bottom and gradually rise, integrating into the drink.
- Serve and enjoy.
Recipe 3: Caramel Apple Pie Mocktail
This Merry About Town creation is a fall favorite, with a beautiful rosemary sprig for an aromatic topping. Enjoy over a fire, and don’t skip the sugar rim for one of our favorite dessert mocktails.
- 6 cups apple cider
- ½ cup caramel syrup
- 3 cups sparkling water
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 apples
- Around 6 rosemary sprigs
- Golden brown sugar for rimming
- In a pitcher, mix the apple cider with the caramel syrup and add the cinnamon.
- Cut the apples into thin slices and add them to the pitcher.
- Add the rosemary sprigs and let them sit for 20 minutes.
- After letting the flavor marry, pour the sparkling water into the pitcher. Mix.
- Rim glasses with golden brown sugar.
- Pour the mocktail into the glasses.
Recipe 4: Non-Alcoholic Sangria
Nothing says a summer drink like a sangria. One of the best parts of the fruity mix is that it can be made with non-alcoholic rose, white, or red wine. Whatever you prefer, it’s the perfect pick for the refreshing drink.
- 4 cups white grape juice, or the same amount of non-alcoholic wine
- ¼ cup blueberries
- ¾ cup blueberries
- 1 cup orange juice
- Juice of 1 lime
- 2 limes
- 2 whole oranges
- 2 bananas
- 2 peaches
- Blend the white grape juice with ¼ cup blueberries (40 g).
- Pour this liquid mixture into a jar or bowl.
- Add the orange and the lime juice.
- Stir until it is well mixed.
- Place ice in a jar, add the liquid mixture, the chopped fruits (2 oranges, 2 bananas, 2 limes, and 2 peaches), and ¾ cup of blueberries.
- Let stand the sangria in the fridge for about 2 hours.
Variations: You could try many different types of juice that complement one another, including watermelon, cranberry, passion fruit, or apple juice. Depending on the season and your personal tastes, it’s possible to customize this non-alcoholic sangria to taste.
Recipe 5: Rose Lemon Spritzer Mocktail
Half Baked Harvest has the perfect fizzy recipe for a girl’s night or baby shower — with its pink flavor and a girly garnish, it’s got all of the fun and none of the alcohol content.
- 2 tablespoons rose water
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1-2 tablespoon honey or to taste
- A few drops of pomegranate juice for color (optional)
- ¾ cup sparkling water or club soda to taste
- Fresh roses for garnish (optional)
- Combine all the rose water, fresh lemon juice, vodka, honey, and pomegranate juice (if using) in a cocktail shaker.
- Fill with ice.
- Shake until combined and then strain into a glass.
- Pour in the sparkling water.
- Garnish with fresh roses.
Pro tip: this could be delicious with a non-alcoholic sparkling rose</a rel="spon nofollow noreferrer" target="blank"> instead of the seltzer water if you want a more flavorful variation.
Recipe 6: Mango Mule
This tropical twist on a classic Moscow mule comes from Danielle Walker. If you love a fruity island feel, this is the mocktail for you.
- 4 to 5 slices of cucumber
- 1 ounce honey syrup*
- 1 1⁄2 ounce mango puree (blended fresh or frozen mango)
- 1 1⁄2 ounce fresh lime juice
- 1 1⁄2 ounce ginger beer
- Muddle cucumber and honey syrup in the bottom of a cocktail shaker.
- Add the mango purée and lime juice.
- Shake with ice, covered, vigorously for 10 seconds.
- Strain into a tall glass of fresh ice.
- Top with ginger beer and stir to incorporate.
Recipe 7: French 75 Mocktail
- 2 cups ice
- 3 ounces fresh lemon juice
- 4 dashes lemon or orange bitters
- 2 (6-8 oz.) bottles premium tonic water
- 2 rock candy swizzle sticks
- Add fresh lemon juice and bitters to a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
- Shake until frosty.
- Divide into two champagne flutes or coupe glasses.
- Top off with tonic water until it reaches about ¾ of the way up the glass.
- Garnish with the swizzle sticks and serve immediately.
Recipe 8: Whiskey Smash
- 2 oz. Ritual Whiskey Alternative
- ¾ oz. simple syrup
- Half of one lemon, cut into wedges
- 8 mint leaves
- Mint sprig for garnish
- Place mint leaves, lemon, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker.
- Smash those ingredients (otherwise called muddling).
- Add the Whiskey Alternative and ice.
- Shake for 30 seconds.
- Strain into an Old Fashioned glass with ice.
- Slap the mint sprig to express its oils and garnish.
Mix It Up
As you can see, reducing the amount of alcohol you consume does not mean cutting back on taste.
Unleash your creativity with these sober-friendly drinks, and don’t forget to grab some sparkling non-alcoholic rose for the days you just want something a no-fuss NA beverage.