your fanciest non-boozes
November 29, 2017 7:52 AM   Subscribe

As a notable non-drinker at work, I've been asked for input on what the non-alcoholic fancy drink should be for our Christmas party and I need some ideas.

We've done well as a company this year, so the drinkers are getting high-end champagne for the reception at the beginning of the party. It's a black tie affair.

Non-alcoholic hot punch and Fentimans lemonade are also going to be served over the course of the party (plus there'll be an open bar later with the usual range of soft drinks), so this isn't the only game in town, but I've been asked by the team who plan the party to think of something non-alcoholic that's fancy enough to serve alongside the nice champagne during the champagne reception bit.

So, what's fancy? I've been not-drinking for a long time now but haven't really found many truly interesting/unusual soft drinks, and most of the standard softs rely either on way too much sugar or caffeine for my personal tastes.

I'm open to any kind of drink ideas, from "here's this pre-made bottled product that's delicious" to "this is the most amazing mocktail" - either of those options would be in scope. The only caveat is that the product/ingredients need to be available in the UK.

posted by terretu to Food & Drink (24 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
Seedlip is marketed as a non-alchoholic gin replacement, so is not exactly a champagne equivalent but goes well with things like Fever Tree flavoured tonic waters and could be served in an interesting, fancy way.
posted by jontyjago at 8:00 AM on November 29, 2017 [6 favorites]

Elderflower Cordial and other Presses

I also don't drink and this is my go to when people ask what they should purchase to available for me to drink at an event.

They also have alcohol free "wines!"
posted by Karaage at 8:03 AM on November 29, 2017 [2 favorites]

Cascara is the name for the dried husks of coffee cherries. It tastes really fantastic hot, and even better cold, with some honey and carbonation. It's really delicate and sweet. There are several recipes online about how to make it, but any riff of this cascara soda will be pretty great.

It does have an amount of caffeine in it, but there's discussion as to how much. I wouldn't crush a ton of it before bed, but I don't find it as highly caffeinated as coffee or tea.

Can be a touch difficult to find in the UK/EU, because of some weird customs/tariff stuff, but it appears available in a few spots.
posted by furnace.heart at 8:03 AM on November 29, 2017 [2 favorites]

You might get some ideas from this shop. (Mr. gudrun prefers non-alcoholic sparkling/fizzy cider of some kind.)
posted by gudrun at 8:08 AM on November 29, 2017

Navarro Vineyards makes very delicious and fancily packaged non-alcoholic grape juices from wine grapes. The gewurtz is really something special.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:17 AM on November 29, 2017 [2 favorites]

Sparkling cider might not be fancy enough but I really enjoy it and it works well as a non-alcoholic champagne substitute (it's what I had at Christmas and similar when I was pregnant).
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:18 AM on November 29, 2017 [2 favorites]

We've been drinking Seedlip with just straight seltzer and it's a really satisfying evening drink (I do drink upon occasion, but I actually quite like the spicy Seedlip). If you serve it in champagne flutes with seltzer and maybe a splash of cranberry juice you get a great looking mocktail.

(fancier ginger beer does overwhelm it a bit, but it's fine with regular gingerale; it's definitely not as strong a flavor as most spirits)
posted by larthegreat at 8:19 AM on November 29, 2017

I'm also on board with sparkling cider. I don’t really drink and I’d love to have this option, and I’m not even that wild about apples. These look good: The 17 Sparkling Cider Mocktails You Need for the Holiday Season. In fact, I think I’m going to buy some sparkling cider myself.
posted by Room 641-A at 8:43 AM on November 29, 2017

The best unsweetened "sodas" I've had were just "make cucumber water and then run it through a sodastream." Or lemon instead of cucumber, or mint, or rhubarb, or a chunk of fresh gingerroot, or some combination of those, or etc. It doesn't have the same cultural connotations as expensive champagne, doesn't scream "luxury" or "excess" in the same way, but it's tasty and festive and goes well with nice food.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:44 AM on November 29, 2017

My family uses a punch. It doesn't sound fancy but it tastes fancy!

Two part Hawaiian Punch
One part pineapple juice
One part orange juice
One part sprite/sevenup/etc

one of the juices we usually freeze as ice cubes.

It's amazing and everyone requests it all the time
posted by dpx.mfx at 9:01 AM on November 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

I pretty much love all the Dry Brand soda flavors, especially since they are not overly sweet.

I am also a big fan of adding a shrub (drinking vinegar) to plain seltzer for a fancy treat. Here's one brand you could try. Have a selection on hand so the bartender can mix up flavors. Along that line you could do a fancy Italian Soda bar.
posted by brookeb at 9:14 AM on November 29, 2017 [2 favorites]

Just to reiterate, suggestions must be available in the UK (Dry brand isn't, unfortunately, as that sounds delicious; cider always means alcohol in England; Hawaiian punch is sadly not a thing here).
posted by terretu at 9:18 AM on November 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

San Pellegrino has a variety of fruit sodas you should be able to get there; the Chinotto is a wonderful, very grown-up flavor that's bitter and sweet and spicy.

I'm sad you can't get Dry soda there!

I wonder what a splash of Ribena in sparkling water is like.
posted by fiercecupcake at 9:31 AM on November 29, 2017

For me, mocktails containing ginger beer always come closest to a fancy champagne-ish feel. Example of a Moscow Mule here.
posted by threetwentytwo at 9:39 AM on November 29, 2017

terretu: cider always means alcohol in England;

Right, so what you'd want then is sparkling apple juice. Easily found in the UK.
posted by Grither at 9:49 AM on November 29, 2017 [3 favorites]

You might look into kombucha. In the US there are some fantastic and complex dry kombuchas. I don't think it's as popular in the UK yet, but Jarr Kombucha might be an option. Important to note: some kombuchas can contain trace levels of alcohol, so may not be suitable for those who absolutely can consume no alcohol for medical or religious reasons. In the US, there's labeling about this; not sure whether Jarr is totally alcohol-free but I'm sure you could confirm with them. You can sample it in person (in mocktails or on draft!) at their bar in London, but it's also available in shops or you can order it by the case.
posted by halation at 9:56 AM on November 29, 2017 [5 favorites]

+1 see if Navarro Vineyards will ship its grape juice
posted by salvia at 9:56 AM on November 29, 2017

I think a nice shrub would be good. There are lots of artisanal shrub makers around, but here's UK company that seems to have wider distribution - Shrb Drinks.
posted by kendrak at 10:31 AM on November 29, 2017 [2 favorites]

Elderflower soda is wonderful, and if you can't find that, Ikea Elderfower syrup is excellent with soda water- add quite a lot for best results.
(Also great with vodka, or gin, or punch, or lemonade... it's just excellent).
posted by pseudostrabismus at 11:18 AM on November 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

Shloer sparkling grape juice comes in red, white and rose
posted by KateViolet at 1:51 PM on November 29, 2017

This might be what you meant by hot punch, but maybe alcohol-free wassail?
posted by Boxenmacher at 2:47 PM on November 29, 2017

My go-to non-alcoholic beverage lately has been a UK-made ginger beer, Belvoir. It's got the perfect balance of ginger and lemon for my taste buds. How about a virgin Moscow Mule? Ginger beer, lime juice and maybe some mint or basil for garnish.
posted by emelenjr at 6:07 PM on November 29, 2017

The best mocktail I've ever had is the Green Nile at Hakkasan. The Indian Express has a recipe but unfortunately no ingredient quantities so you'd have to have a bartender you can trust make some sense of it. Also lots of people hate cilantro so maybe a cilantro based drink isn't the best one to pick, but whatever. This is an amazing drink. Or maybe try something else from their mocktail list (page 5 here), some of them look pretty good.
posted by phoenixy at 11:07 PM on November 29, 2017

I don't drink and hate the super sweet non-alcoholic lemonadey type things (or just crummy OJ) you get as a non-drinker at UK fancy events. The last one I went to that actually had something nice made lavender lemonade (bonus points: it's something all the Cool Kids are talking about) and I just made lavender sugar syrup (dried lavender, sugar, water, simmer) you add lemon juice and water/soda/etc to.

I also like fake Pimms which is angostura bitters and cucumber cubes topped up with water/etc. Finally, I just had the most delicious and not-at-all sweet Huascaran non-alcoholic cocktail and it looks like fennel-basil sugar syrup is easy too.
posted by london explorer girl at 5:24 AM on November 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

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