Considering the prevalence of drinking in certain social spaces, there may come a time where you personally evaluate how alcohol functions in your life. When I found myself in this headspace early last year, I decided to explore the sober curious movement. I first stumbled upon this concept after listening to an audiobook by Ruby Warrington, author and founder of The Numinous. In addition to publishing books on the topic, Warrington previously held an event series titled Club SÖDA NYC that centered around alcohol-free living.
Following this discovery, I learned that there are myriad reasons why people opt out of drinking and that it’s easier to navigate when it happens within a supportive community. But most importantly, you shouldn’t have to justify your reasoning for limiting your interaction with a substance, as it’s your own body and health to maintain. Personally, my relationship to alcohol was renewed by an extended period of abstaining. I have become more mindful and curious with my consumption (or lack thereof).
Through my exploration of sober curiosity, I also became more experimental with my social drinking options. As of late, there are more non-alcoholic options on the market, so it’s possible to simply substitute your usual rum or tequila for an alcohol-free spirit by Seedlip or Ritual Zero Proof. There’s also Kin Euphorics and Curious Elixirs, companies that specialize in adaptogenic beverages that’ll give you an uplifting herbal buzz (but not the cannabis kind — though there are options for that too).
However, any blend of juices and ingredients can be a cocktail (or mocktail) with the right attitude, glass, and garnish — as long as it’s pleasing to your spirit. Here are six mocktail recipes for you to test out ahead of the warmer months.
Any measurements here are really suggestions; experiment with the ratios as they suit your taste buds and required serving size
Botanical Sweet Tea
- Earl Grey tea (prepared on the stove or with an electric kettle)
- Lavender syrup (to taste)
- Fresh chopped ginger (to taste)
- Fresh Mint (to taste)
This is a mixture that I tried over the summer and found that it resembles a sweet peach tea in flavor. Bring water to boil and add the Earl Grey tea bags with a small amount of chopped ginger. Let this steep to your desired strength, then remove the ginger and tea bags before pouring the beverage into a heat-resistant mug/pitcher. Refrigerate the drink until ready to serve. Once it has cooled down, add the lavender syrup to taste (a little goes a long way as too much makes it taste very medicinal). Pour over light ice and add fresh mint for garnish. You can also add the mint while the drink is hot to increase that flavor profile.
Ginger Beer & Lemonade
- 1 can of Q Mixers Hibiscus Ginger Beer or a bottle of Fevertree Smoky Ginger Ale
- Homemade or store bought lemonade
Even though it’s commonly marketed as a mixer, I absolutely love ginger beer and think it’s a rockstar drink on its own. Prior to lockdown, if I went out after work or to a show, I would opt for non-alcoholic ginger beer with citrus — draft sodas are really the best! You can also use ginger ale; just find one that has a spice level you prefer. It’s also helpful to determine the amount of lemonade you want first and slowly add in your ginger beer from there. Mix the two flavors, then enjoy.
- A splash of lavender syrup
- Homemade or store bought lemonade
- Ice (optional but recommended)
Though you’ll still want to go easy with how much syrup you use here, the tart lemonade really balances out the floral sweetness of lavender for a highly refreshing beverage. Stir the two flavors and enjoy!
Sparkling Water with Flavored Syrup
- A can/bottle of sparkling water — flavored or plain
- Flavored syrup
I really enjoy the versatility of lavender syrup, so personally I’d also experiment with that flavor in this space. But if botanical/floral flavors on their own are not pleasing to your palette, I suggest the combination of grapefruit and lemon or mango with lime. Pour your sparkling water over ice, then gently stir in your favorite flavored syrup to your heart’s content and enjoy.
Nectar w/ sparkling water or ginger beer
- Guava nectar with grapefruit sparkling water
- Mango nectar with ginger beer, served with a lime on the rim
Add a little fizz to the consistency of nectar with a splash of sparkling water or ginger beer. Pour over ice.
Kombucha & Juice
- Flavored kombucha (I like GT’s Trilogy, as well as Love by Brew Dr.)
- A complementary juice flavor such as cranberry
Stir the two flavors and enjoy. Kombucha and rum is also a familiar cocktail option, so if you are sampling a non-alcoholic rum alternative, you can definitely mix that with the kombucha instead of using juice.
*Note: as a fermented tea drink, kombucha commonly has a minor amount of naturally occurring alcohol (less than 1%), so people with a sensitivity may want to approach cautiously. There are also kombucha beers, so use your discretion when shopping around.
- About 8-9 apple cores (a mix of Fiji, Pink Lady, and Granny Smith apples is recommended)
- 2 large cinnamon sticks
- Star anise to taste
- Fresh ginger to taste
A tisane is an herbal decoction made with your preferred mix of herbs, spices, berries, and/or flowers. This specific recipe for an apple tisane is similar to mulled cider: full bodied with a warming spice sensation. Boil all ingredients, then reduce to a simmer for 20-25 minutes. Let cool or enjoy warm.