Mocktails That Are Mostly Mock?
February 4, 2020 8:15 PM   Subscribe

I've been cutting back on my alcohol consumption in January and want to continue it. However, I'm hosting a party this weekend where there will be my big weakness - wine. Help me find some mocktails that still have a bit of alcohol so I don't have full FOMO and down some chardonnay.

Ideally, these would be low to no sugar, don't require exotic ingredients, and can be enjoyed slowly. Also not having wine at the party will be difficult as my attendees all have a much healthier relationship with wine and enjoy it very responsibly.

Plus, I need to get started with avoidance training and I really believe that some great alternative drinks can help me glide past the wine all together and still get that "I'm having a special drinky-drink" feeling without actually getting drunk, tipsy, or worse.
posted by tafetta, darling! to Food & Drink (22 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
I guess it depends on your definition of "a bit" of alcohol. Is it less than neat liquor but more than wine? Or is it less than wine but with more than one ingredient? If it's the former, I like Americanos, and "session cocktails" is a good search term. If you have time to get hold of and read a book, and then pick up the (admittedly sometimes rather exotic) ingredients, I recommend this book.
posted by caek at 8:30 PM on February 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

An easy one to make or order is the classic bitters and soda. Bitters can be middle proof but you use so little that it will have little to no intoxicating effect. You can scale up or down the soda to taste, and there are lots of interesting bitters... bitterses... out there in easy reach. Angostura and Peychaud's are the most common, but if ask around you'll find dozens of interesting ones that are more or less sweet, have different fruits or spices, etc. A Luxardo maraschino cherry (i.e. not the bright red ones) would probably set one of these off nicely.

Sweet vermouth and soda is another option - there are a handful of nice easy vermouths out there (any bar would happily let you try a few) that will mix well. Pop an orange peel in there or maybe even a little juice and you'll have a nice sipper. (And now I see that with Campari this has a name, the Americano, which caek suggests.)

Lillet is of course technically a apertif wine and I realize it's your weakness, but no one just drinks a big glass of Lillet. I have a couple ounces on ice with an orange peel, a little soda to top if you want, and it's wonderful.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 8:34 PM on February 4, 2020 [16 favorites]

Virgin Moscow mules (ginger beer, lime, soda water if you feel like it) are better than they should be. My go to, however, is just soda water, lime, and bitters. There’s all kinds of bitters out there, so you can dial in exactly what you want. Both drinks have the advantage of looking like alcoholic beverages so you won’t have to deal with jerks asking jerky questions.
posted by sacrifix at 8:36 PM on February 4, 2020 [4 favorites]

I like to make a very strong hibiscus tea and drink it chilled with aromatic and orange bitters and a splash of club soda. It's a beautiful ruby red color that looks great in a coupé glass with a citrus twist.
posted by mezzanayne at 8:56 PM on February 4, 2020 [3 favorites]

If you like ginger, there are some really fancy (and strong!) ginger ales/ beers (non/ minimally alcoholic) that are super good. I find that the bite of ginger simulates the bite of alcohol a little bit.

Cut it with a tiny bit of vodka and some club soda (to lower the caloric density).

A "low alcohol" drink that I used to buy friends when it called for alcohol but they weren't keen or were ultra low tolerance was a drink in a tall highball format (big margarita glass also works); rocks, club soda, shot of Bols melon (if you want to get fancy, definitely see if you can find Santori Midori - a Japanese liqueur, launched at Studio 54, and I find it crisper, far tastier, and less "saccharine" than Bols, but the bars we used to go to usually had Bols).

Depending on how much soda and rocks you throw in, it starts out about as alcoholic as a light beer and waters down as the ice melts.

Bonus: it's a bright happy green.

If you don't like melon flavour, Bols comes in Blue, Red, or Yellow flavour also.

I take mine with an additional shot or two of vodka, a paper umbrella, and a curly straw.

Midori is a little bit strong than Bols (20-22 vs 17-ish?) but the flavour goes further so you can dilute it down more.

Lots of other cocktail uses for Midori, too, this is the most straightforward and as soon as you start adding juices and whatnot, the calorie count goes up from club soda.
posted by porpoise at 10:24 PM on February 4, 2020

I made these pear rosemary mocktails recently and they were... fine, I guess. But we all agreed that what they needed was a little alcohol. We tried with a dash of limoncello, which was nice, and also with like half a shot of gin, which worked well too. In both cases the total alcohol content of the drink was much less than a standard drink, but it was really delicious.
posted by lollusc at 11:10 PM on February 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

I personally treasure sipping on a great quality kombucha. I find them so fizzy that it's impossible for me to gulp down quickly. While they have a minimal amount of alcohol, due to the fermentation, some also have caffeine - so that's something else to watch out for.
posted by spinifex23 at 11:44 PM on February 4, 2020 [3 favorites]

The last few times I hosted parties, I started the evening with white wine spritzers - 1/3 a glass of wine, ice, club soda and a slice of lemon. Light, tasty, you get to participate in the wine drinking, and keep your wits about you to be able to host properly.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 2:47 AM on February 5, 2020 [3 favorites]

Spritzers are great for this purpose - Aperol Spritz was having a moment last year and is a great place to start. I also recommend the book The Art Of The Shim for some low-proof cocktails.

And make sure you have a fancy glass to drink from! It definitely helps with the FOMO.
posted by harriet vane at 3:17 AM on February 5, 2020 [3 favorites]

I’m able to use a fraction of a shot of gin in most gin cocktail recipes and still feel satisfied. The flavor carries a long way.
posted by horizons at 3:42 AM on February 5, 2020

If you want wine but not a full glass, you could do a wine spritzer with some ice in it! Kind of like... club soda/sprite with a splash of wine.
posted by DoubleLune at 5:43 AM on February 5, 2020

I don't know if a fruit shrub is considered an exotic ingredient or not, but we've been doing mocktails with a fruit shrub, dash of bitters, and topped with club soda. We make our own shrubs but you can buy them as well.
posted by maurice at 7:32 AM on February 5, 2020 [2 favorites]

I make a home mocktail that's a mix of flavored seltzer (I like grapefruit best) and something sweet (usually lemonade, Fresca, or diet ginger ale) with a couple dashes of rhubarb bitters (liquor stores almost never have it, I have to order it, but orange bitters are a good second choice). I like a pinch of salt in it, I can't be bothered to salt a glass rim, but if you wanted to you could. It tastes grown up, and I find it has a bit of filling-ness to it that makes me feel like I am drinking something a bit substantial.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:41 AM on February 5, 2020

Tonic water, splash of cranberry juice, splash of white wine, sprig of rosemary.
posted by theora55 at 7:50 AM on February 5, 2020

Do you like Pernod or similar? You can add a lot of water to it and still get a drink with flavour.
posted by noxperpetua at 8:02 AM on February 5, 2020

Campari and soda or Aperol and soda? It's a pretty color and a sophisticated flavor, and you can make them as weak as you want.
posted by LizardBreath at 8:56 AM on February 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

Another vote for bitters and soda (with a citrus wedge/peel garnish). I live near a fancy store that stocks dozens of intriguing, complex types of bitters. I have a Soda Stream. I have a lemon tree. A hefty teaspoon of blood orange bitters + soda + rocks + lemon peel? Fantastic. I also occasionally do this with amari and other bitter liqueurs, like Aperol or Campari. I realize that I'm mostly after the sharp tang of carbonation (which can kinda feel like the boozy burn in your mouth) and a lot of fragrant notes, and bitters seem to magnify both of those needs. I carbonate the ever loving fuck out of my fizzy water, too. Extremely carbonated = better than a cocktail when I'm not drinking.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 9:48 AM on February 5, 2020 [4 favorites]

There’s a Spanish drink called Tinto de Verano which is wine mixed with some kind of soda. Red wine and coke or sprite typically, but I’ve made it with white. You can actually buy it in a plastic bottle in Spain and the lowbrow part of me finds that awesome.

I prefer my wines on the sweeter side so if it’s too dry for me or I just don’t like the wine, rather than wasting it I’ll just pour some Diet Coke in the glass. I like it. I have gotten some weird looks. It helps to not drink it out of a wine glass.

If you’d prefer to be drinking Chardonnay anyway, I think this definitely worth a try. Or DoubleLune’s suggestion to make a spritzer with club soda.
posted by cali59 at 10:12 AM on February 5, 2020

nthing bitters and soda. I ordered fun flavors like cardamom online.

Also not sure it's what you are looking for at this party, but if you are ever at a boozy brunch, replacing the shot of vodka in a bloody mary with a shot of pinapple juice- it's very delicious and tastes like an actual bloody mary instead of just mix.
posted by wowenthusiast at 10:57 AM on February 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

When I want a mocktail, my problem is that they are all SO sweet. I like my drinks more smoky, dry, etc. If you like vinegar-y flavors, you might like shrubs - they are not sweet at all. You could put in a little liqueur or something if you want it to have some alcohol? But it doesn't need it. They are great with fresh muddled fruit and/or herbs, and soda. You don't need to make your own shrub syrup, you can buy it. In my coastal city they sell bottles of it at gourmet groceries and upscale liquor stores, or you can also buy it only - just Google "bottled shrub syrup."
posted by amaire at 12:04 PM on February 6, 2020

During the summer, I do rickeys like this. Maybe a shot of gin in a half-gallon jar of soda and lime juice with just a touch of simple syrup. Just enough that I notice the taste without enough to get anywhere near a buzz.
posted by klangklangston at 5:31 PM on February 9, 2020

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