non-alcoholic cocktails with no soda
May 22, 2014 5:35 PM   Subscribe

I love cocktails, but because of a recent sleeve gastrectomy, I can't have alcohol or carbonation anymore. Still, I'm going to miss the ritual of chilled drinks in cocktail-friendly glassware with fruity garnishes on a summer day. Recommendations, please. Snowflake: I don't like tomato juice or clam juice.
posted by mirepoix to Food & Drink (25 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
While shrubs (fruit vinegars) are general mixed with soda water, there's no reason that you couldn't mix with still water instead.
posted by snarkout at 5:42 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

well, I don't know how you feel about artificial sweeteners, but I really like the Crystal Light mixes. You need to test them to find out your favorites, but for example I really like the pink lemonade one.

Of course you can always do spring water that you keep chilled in the refrigerator with slices of, for example, oranges.
posted by janey47 at 5:42 PM on May 22, 2014

I like margaritas, but in the summer to prevent myself from drinking too many of them, at some point I switch over to making limeades--simple syrup, lime juice, water over ice. They can be made more fancy by infusing the simple syrup with herbs like basil or thyme.
posted by Sequence at 5:43 PM on May 22, 2014 [4 favorites]

I suppose there's always the Arnold Palmer -- half lemonade, half sweet tea.

But, really, this is your time to experiment! Go to an ethnic food store (Eastern European, Asian, etc.) and buy up whatever juices or mystery liquids look good -- other cultures seem to have a greater variety of regularly consumed juices, I've found. Then see what mixes well with what, adding a dash of this and that to come up with fun and cocktail-level complicated flavours.

I usually end up using club soda to dilute flavour, but ice would do just as well, I bet. A dash of bitters, though technically alcoholic, can also do a lot to help a drink really shine.
posted by Pwoink at 5:43 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

well it's summer so you can juice and blenderize interesting stuff. I like all combinations of cucumber, lime and mint; preferably mixed with icy seltzer.
posted by fingersandtoes at 5:51 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

I got some D'Noir Prune Juice on a whim on sale at the grocery store. It's pretty good, if you like prune juice.

Kombucha from the store usually goes through a second fermentation so that it's fizzy (somewhere between a little and a lot) but if you make your own, and put it straight into the fridge without fermenting it at room temperature in a closed bottle, it is only very mildly effervescent.
posted by BrashTech at 5:54 PM on May 22, 2014

Explore the world of aguas frescas, which in a nutshell are a combination of a flavored simple syrup and blended, strained fruit.
posted by drlith at 5:56 PM on May 22, 2014 [3 favorites]

I posted a reply to a similar thread not too long ago here.

Maybe you would enjoy non alcoholic tiki cocktails? In that post, I listed a few recipes for drinks made at Trader Vic's (a couple use soda water, but are just as good without it and with some extra ice and a little water instead).

The key to a great non-alcoholic drink, for me, is good fruit juice, a good syrup (like these delicious non-HFCS syrups sold by Blair Reynolds), and a nice garnish of fresh fruit or mint. It's also all about balancing the sweet with a little sour, so don't forget the lime or lemon juice!

For those syrups, falernum has a delicious lime, clove, and allspice flavor. The cinnamon syrup is fantastic in fruit drinks, as is the orgeat (an almond syrup). Small Hand Foods also makes a tremendous orgeat.

Hope your recovery continues to go well... mahalo!
posted by Old Man McKay at 6:07 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

Juice of one lime.
1 tsp of sugar.
Add water and ice and stir thoroughly. (Or if you want the ritual, shake in a cocktail shaker.)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:11 PM on May 22, 2014

I just re-watched the first episode of Mad Men and got an unexplainable craving for iced tea on the rocks. (When actors shoot a hard-drinking scene, they're usually drinking iced tea, not real whiskey!)

Nthing aguas frescas.

What about "spa water", AKA cold water with cucumbers and/or citrus slices?
posted by Sara C. at 6:26 PM on May 22, 2014

A virgin coconut mojito. Muddle some mint leaves and a lime or two, add simple syrup if you like your drinks sweet, top it off with coconut water. SO GOOD.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 6:33 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

You can also play around with changing up the mixer. For example, instead of coconut water, try pomegranate juice and soda water.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 6:36 PM on May 22, 2014

I enjoy a non-alcoholic Sea Breeze from time to time, just cranberry and grapefruit juice.
posted by Ruki at 7:16 PM on May 22, 2014

Two years ago my daughter and I started making fruit syrups--muddled fruit + herbs + sugar, left to sit in the fridge for a few days, and then strained. When it was time for a drink, fruit syrup + water/soda water + ice + garnishes (sometimes) made things seem fancy and delicious.

Strawberry muddled with rosemary was very popular, as was cucumber, cantaloupe, and mint. We did all sorts of things--blackberry sage, strawberry grapefruit, etc, and they ranged from pretty tasty to super delicious. You can garnish them with sprigs of herbs, citrus wedges, fruit on skewers, fancy cocktail umbrellas...
posted by MeghanC at 7:29 PM on May 22, 2014 [3 favorites]

I'd do something different: Tea. It would be hard to find a beverage with more tradition, more glass/pottery-ware, more ritual. Plus, it is friendly to those wanting to stay slim.
posted by Houstonian at 7:30 PM on May 22, 2014

How about hibiscus teas or other hibiscus-based drinks? There are a lot of variations/recipes. It can have the same sort of sipping quality as a good cocktail or wine. Any citrus fruit or juice can be a welcome addition, too.

If you're still OK with white sugar, I recommend adding that. Otherwise, dilute with a sweet fruit juice (I like it on its own, but it's definitely tart and maybe an acquired taste).
posted by darksong at 7:30 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Invest in an apple syrup and a lychee syrup. Mix with ice cold water to your liking. Drink and relax.
posted by AlexiaSky at 8:34 PM on May 22, 2014

Seconding what Old Man McKay said, though you can make a lot of syrups yourself. Cinnamon syrup is just basically simple syrup with cinnamon. Orgeat is a little more work but still easy. And if you're not using alcohol, the preparation of the syrups could be a fun way to make drink-making more interesting. Though whatever you do, don't buy Fee Brothers syrups.

Also, always use fresh squeezed juice and fresh ingredients whenever you can. There really is a difference, and I say this as someone who does not have an especially discerning palate. And the good news is that the lime crisis appears to have abated.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 9:42 PM on May 22, 2014

For a more interesting experience?

See if you can get a young coconut. They're the ones with the husks cut off, and cut in some sort of geometric shape. Often found in Asian grocery stores. When you get it home, cut off the top of it. Insert straw, and drink out the fresh coconut juice. Some places will cut the top for you. It is very refreshing!

After you're done, you can probably use the coconut shell for a citrus drink afterwards; some of the coconut taste may filter through. But, do this quickly; I don't know how long a young coconut will last! Alternatively, cut it more open, and scoop out the coconut meat. Then, use that in the drink of your choice.

Bonus points if you get some paper umbrellas.
posted by spinifex23 at 10:05 PM on May 22, 2014

Herb-infused lemonades are really refreshing and can feel much more sophisticated than your average virgin drink. Mint is standard, but sage and rosemary are also excellent. It does require some prep, since you want to let the herbs and lemonade sit together for several hours, but if you use really fresh herbs and then strain it into a nice highball glass with a bit of garnish, you've got yourself one chic beverage.
posted by Diagonalize at 8:27 AM on May 23, 2014

It's froofy, but a Watermelon breeze is nice and easy:
* 3 cups cubed chilled watermelon
* 1 cup coconut water
* Fresh lime
* Ice
* Sprig of mint

posted by cnc at 11:05 AM on May 23, 2014

Do you need to avoid excess sugar as well? Or are you better off with something sugar as opposed to empty volume?
posted by maryr at 1:09 PM on May 23, 2014

It's not exactly fruity, though a lime wedge on the side would be nice.
A splash (or 4) of bitters, lime juice and water over ice is quite refreshing.
posted by sarajane at 1:24 PM on May 23, 2014

Are you able to have bitters? They contain alcohol but you use a few drops at a time so you don't need to consume much in order to add some interesting complexity to any of the drinks above. But a few different kinds and experiment with matching them to drinks.
posted by stp123 at 8:50 AM on May 24, 2014

If you like a sour, bold taste - try Pom juice with fresh lime, agave nectar, and maybe a little water to dilute it.
posted by Tess at 6:41 PM on May 26, 2014

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