When you’re catering to a larger group of people or welcoming guests into your bar or restaurant, it’s almost guaranteed that at least a handful of those people won’t want to drink alcohol.
Whether they’re the designated driver, pregnant, living a sober life, or abstaining for a number of other reasons, these customers still want to feel included– even if they don’t partake in drinking liquor.
Creating a Mocktail Menu
That’s why it’s so important to include spirit-free cocktails in your service options. When adults aren’t drinking alcohol at an event or during a night out at your establishment, their choices are usually limited to water, coffee/iced tea, and maybe punch or soda. Boring. These guests don’t want to be bored; they want to be catered to.
If you overlook “mocktails,” as they’re often called, you’re leaving out an entire subsection of guests at your event or bar. Isn’t the point of your service to give your guests the best experience possible? Well, that also includes not overlooking a whole group of them. No matter why someone avoids alcohol, they still deserve a great drink.
And if that isn’t enough to convince you to add mocktails to your service menu, here’s the bottom line: By not doing so, you’re leaving a lot of potential revenue on the table. Guests who don’t drink liquor can still be paying guests.
You can even meet a similar price point for a mocktail using “spirit-free spirits” (crafted alcohol alternatives) as you would an alcoholic beverage. It’s a win-win for everyone involved– your customers get something truly special, and you still bring in the profits.
Offer Elevated Non-Alcoholic Cocktail Options
So how do you get started? Alcohol-free cocktails do not have to be overly simple or super sweet. Gone are the days when only Shirley Temples were your best option, as the craft cocktail world has been making strides in zero-proof alternatives and mocktail choices.
Here are a few ways to get started with adding non-alcoholic cocktails to your beverage program’s menu:
- Use non-alcoholic spirits already on the market– such as Seedlip, ArKay, Ritual, or MONDAY– to recreate classic cocktails. Practice to make sure the flavor is still balanced, though, because extracting the alcohol can often remove the “bite” from a cocktail, or the alternative might be a little sweeter. Adjust the recipe as needed, but you can essentially make a regular cocktail just as you would, only with a zero-proof spirit and possibly a few measurement adjustments.
- Eliminate the liquor entirely: Make custom craft cocktails without any liquor replacement, simply using mixers like soda water, fresh fruits & herbs, and possibly non-alcoholic bitters like All the Bitter.
- Create your own spirit base replacement using glycerine. A Bar Above has created an entire course showing you how to make your own zero-proof base, which you can batch beforehand and use during service– whether at a brick-and-mortar establishment or at an offsite event.
Tips for Creating Beautiful Mocktails
Just as you would with alcoholic cocktails, make sure your zero-proof cocktails are delicious and made with care. Here are a few things to take into consideration:
- Test your mocktails to make sure they’re balanced so that no one flavor profile (sweet, salty, sour, bitter, or umami) stands out too much.
- Create flavorful and complex drinks, not just watered-down versions of alcoholic beverages. Remember to adjust the recipe if needed and add a little spice or dash of non-alcoholic bitters to replace the missing “bite” of alcohol.
- Use fresh ingredients like fruit and herbs. This should go without saying, but take pride in your zero-proof cocktails just as you would your drinks with liquor.
- Create your own fresh syrups and juices to add flavor and complexity. Play with your syrups to add depth. For example, if you’re making a zero-proof Manhattan, add a savory simple syrup such as rosemary to offset the inherent sweetness of a spirit-free spirit.
- Make your spirit-free cocktails beautiful and appealing with fresh, aromatic garnishes. Telling a visual story will make the drink taste much better for the brain!
Here are two delicious, non-alcoholic recipes that are sure to please your non-drinking crowd.
Non-Alcoholic Strawberry Daiquiri
A flavorful, non-frozen daiquiri that feels sophisticated without the booze:
● 2 oz Non-Alcoholic Rum
● 0.75 oz Lime Juice
● 0.5 oz Simple Syrup
● 2 Strawberries, cut into quarters
- Add strawberry chunks to a small shaker tin, muddle them into a pulp, and then add all remaining ingredients.
- Add ice and shake until chilled, about 10 seconds, and then double strain into a coupe glass.
- Garnish with a lime wheel.
A refreshing take on the classic cocktail, using a tequila alternative– Note that there is no additional sweetener because the base is already sweeter than traditional tequila:
● 2 oz Non-Alcoholic Tequila Base
● 0.75 oz Non-Alcoholic Triple Sec Base
● 1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
- Combine all ingredients into a shaker tin, add ice, and shake until chilled.
- Rim rocks glass with coarse salt, and add fresh ice. Strain the cocktail into your glass.
- Garnish with a lime wheel.
And there you have it! Not as difficult as it sounds, right? With a little planning & practice and a fair bit of thought toward your customers, you can provide a stunning, non-alcoholic cocktail menu for your guests. Don’t let them be an afterthought; give them something that wows, and they’ll keep coming back.