Are fancy, adult, dinner party worthy non-alcoholic drinks a thing?
August 5, 2013 4:39 AM   Subscribe

I'm skipping booze for a month as part of a broader brain de-frag. My partner at work has invited my fiance and I over for dinner this week. I'm bringing wine, obviously, but I'd also like to bring something non-alcoholic that doesn't feel juvenile. Any ideas? I'm in the Netherlands, which restricts some choices, but between the Sterk and expat stores I could probably find most brands.

I'm open to making something and bringing it. I've been experimenting with making iced tea to drink with dinner at home and enjoying that, but I'd like something a bit nicer for dinner with friends.
posted by nerdfish to Food & Drink (29 answers total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
Homemade lemonade or sodas. Raspberry thyme soda, maybe. Yum.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 4:41 AM on August 5, 2013 [5 favorites]

posted by Ziggy500 at 4:44 AM on August 5, 2013

Best answer: I went to a party in amsterdam and was drinking non-alchohlic beer for an hour before i noticed. I think it was Bavaria. Silver with blue writing.
posted by Spumante at 4:46 AM on August 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Elderflower cordial (syrup?) with soda water. Or passionfruit.

Also...iced tea.
posted by taff at 4:53 AM on August 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you can find it, Crodino (a non-alcoholic, not-very-sweet Italian aperitif) is lovely, has a very grown-up taste, and comes in delightful little bottles. It tastes like non-alcoholic Campari, if you've ever had that.

Or you could get a cute glass bottle from Ikea with a swing top and fill it with fresh homemade lemonade. Float a few lemon slices in it to make it look fancy.

And this website has all kinds of ideas for non-alcoholic drinks, both pre-made and home-made.
posted by cilantro at 5:14 AM on August 5, 2013 [5 favorites]

Half the fun is the presentation. I recommend whatever you make (tea, agua fresca, homemade fizzy drinks) bottle it up in a nice bottle (or bigger) for the host to reuse later.
posted by xicana63 at 5:16 AM on August 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

I realize the cultures about this are a little different, but in the States a high quality, sparkling mineral water would be considered fairly fancy for a dinner with friends. Considering you can probably find this in Europe in the store for less than the cost of the bottle deposit, maybe make an infused syrup for fizzy drinks.
posted by backseatpilot at 5:19 AM on August 5, 2013 [4 favorites]

Best answer: My boyfriend sometimes crushes pomegranate and adds sparkling water and mint - it's so, so yum and looks very pretty too.
posted by Wantok at 5:25 AM on August 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Homemade iced tea always feels very fancy to me, or water (fizzy or still) with fruit or herbs - lemon + cucumber and strawberry + basil or mint are two of my favorite water 'recipes.' And a big ditto on presentation.
posted by heyforfour at 5:31 AM on August 5, 2013

I like Pelligrino water. I get the individual bottles and stick a straw in them.

Soda with a lime is good.

I'm pretty fond of a Lime Rickey too.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:45 AM on August 5, 2013

Best answer: If you'd like to bring something cold, you could make cold-brew coffee or chai. You could also try making southern US-style black tea sweetened with simple syrup; my Dutch relatives are used to iced green tea and consider iced black tea a novelty. You can even throw in some fresh mint leaves.

Or, if you know your hosts' coffee setup (grinder? French press?), you could bring some nice beans for post-dinner coffees; maybe something from Simon Levelt or Two For Joy.
posted by neushoorn at 5:52 AM on August 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Pear juice, sparkling water and a little fresh ginger (not too much or the heat will overpower some light foods) makes a lovely drink that's not too sweet and very grown-up.

Almost any juice and sparkling water, really, will work out not too badly.
posted by jacquilynne at 5:52 AM on August 5, 2013

i read about shrubs a couple months ago and i've been eager to try them. they're flavored drinking vinegar you use as a mixer. the blog post linked (which explains everything much better) seems to think that just shrub and sparkling water is tops.
posted by noloveforned at 6:02 AM on August 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Shrubs/drinking vinegars are trendy recently, you can make them at home or buy them online easily, and they don't need alcohol to shine.

On preview, noloveformed has it.
posted by Maecenas at 6:03 AM on August 5, 2013 [4 favorites]

Best answer: You have time to make ginger beer and it is delicious! We made this for my wedding and it was a big hit.
posted by emkelley at 6:09 AM on August 5, 2013 [7 favorites]

Response by poster: Fantastic answers, everyone! I'm totally making a few shrub syrups to keep in the fridge.

I think @emkelley is on to a winner - I have clean bottles, bread yeast and a few roots of ginger kicking around at home, so I think I'll combine them tonight to make ginger beer. Thanks everyone!
posted by nerdfish at 6:19 AM on August 5, 2013

I just saw iced mint tea on a friends instagram feed in Morocco. Looks well suited for a hot day.
posted by oceanjesse at 6:29 AM on August 5, 2013

My go-to in this situation is Sparkling Cider. It's delicious, a dry-sweet balance, and feels adult enough for adults though it's non-alcoholic, and terribly grown-up to kids who are offered it. As you can see, this company makes a lot of other sparkling juices.
posted by Miko at 6:45 AM on August 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

I make tons of ice-tea too, (every day!) and I find that presentation is what makes it shine. I usually combine a base (either black, white or green tea) then add two bags of herbal fruit tea, (lemon, orange, mango, strawberry, cherry, blueberry, pomegranate-- there are lots of varieties) then I add a something complimentary to it that makes it look 'pretty'-- orange peel or lemon peel, lemon wedges, fresh strawberry chunks, sprigs of mint-- depending on the herbal tea I've used as the secondary flavor. Then I usually add a dash of sweetener of my choice, (sugar, honey, stevia, maple syrup whatever) depending on what I feel like and what suits the tea. So for example, I made a citrus green tea this morning, and when it cooled, added lemon and lime peel and orange wedges. Packaged in a nice shaped bottle, it might make a great gift.

Also, lemon, lime and bitters is a pretty famous Australian drink, that generally has no alcohol. Recipe here. If you don't have cordial in the US, lime juice or squash would suffice.
posted by Dimes at 6:55 AM on August 5, 2013

Non-alcoholic beers are supposed to be pretty good nowadays. The Wieckse Rosé Bier and the Bavaria equivalent in their non-alcoholic variation can be a nice after dinner drink, especially with the weather being what it is in the Netherlands at the moment. I also like the home-made suggestions. I can't really think of any store bought soda varieties being fancy enough to bring to a dinner party without looking cheap/thoughtless.
posted by Marcc at 7:11 AM on August 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Chinotto is my favorite non-alcoholic drink that tastes like a cocktail. Complex, spicy, not too sweet, and comes in fantastic bottles.
posted by fiercecupcake at 8:58 AM on August 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

If you don't want to take the time to make fermented ginger beer (or if you're worried about exploding bottles), I make an easy ginger syrup by whizzing chopped fresh ginger root with sugar or honey and as much water as it takes to get the blender to handle it. Strain through cheesecloth and mix with seltzer or mineral water. Seriously gingery. Add lemon if you like.

It's also nice mixed with hot water, for hot ginger tea.
posted by Lexica at 9:10 AM on August 5, 2013

@fiercecupcake, where are you getting Chinotto from? (I bring it back from Italy whenever I drive but would love to get it locally.)
posted by Spumante at 9:28 AM on August 5, 2013

You might have already made a decision, but I particularly like dry soda for this. This circumstance is basically entirely why it was created as far as I can tell.

I have no idea what the availability of it is outside the northwestern United States(I didn't for instance, see it at all when I was in Canada recently) but its a good option for anyone else who runs across this thread. Several of the flavors are essentially premade versions of some of the drinks posted in this thread.
posted by emptythought at 9:55 AM on August 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

I don't usually like soda, but I've been enjoying some of the Fentimans sodas lately. Maybe you could find inspiration there. I think the trick to making it seem adult would be for it not to be too sweet.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:14 AM on August 5, 2013

Ooh, yes, the Fentimans shandy did it for me when I couldn't drink and missed beer. Spumante, I can find it at our liquor stores most of the time, the ones that also have deli goods and specialty foods (the chain here is Spec's). Occasionally I see it in specialty grocery stores.
posted by fiercecupcake at 10:24 AM on August 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

I really like Schwepps Raspberry Ginger Ale. It looks like pink champagne and has a nice sweet-tart thing going that makes it easy to sip all night. Use a champagne flute and everybody will want some.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 6:32 PM on August 5, 2013

Jason Scott posted a review of high end grape juice which he recommended.
posted by Sophont at 6:56 PM on August 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Elderflower spritzer.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 3:37 PM on August 6, 2013

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