It’s hard to believe, but the holidays are almost here. Somehow we skipped past spring, flew through summer, and here we are, debating if it’s time to decorate our Christmas trees (it’s not) and attempting to navigate the Halloween candy aisle with some restraint. And with the impending holiday season comes, of course, holiday parties. It’s good news for anyone who likes to indulge in comfort food and tasty cocktails, but even if alcoholic beverages aren’t your thing, you can still be satisfied sipping something festive and delicious this season.
Before we dive into some seriously good, must-try mocktails, you should know that if you’re not into consuming liquor, especially at parties or bars, you’re not alone. According to global market research firm Mintel, more than ever before people, especially young women, are drawn to booze-free bars and elevated mocktails. Bars are popping up around the country, and even restaurants that also serve liquor are offering specialized, craft cocktails that contain zero liquor, but are still fun to sip and still deliver on the flavor front. In fact, “alcohol-free mixed drinks grew 35 percent as a beverage type on the menus of bars and restaurants from 2016 to this year,” according to data from Mintel.
Perhaps it’s for health and wellness reasons, perhaps it’s to be safe and cautious and stay alert and in control in an era of #MeToo. Whatever the motivation, there has certainly been a shift in terms of less focus on booze and more focus on
According to Fred Beebe, a bartender at Sunday in Brooklyn, “Hospitality is making sure everybody has a good time. Alcohol, for me, is not the most important part of a cocktail anymore. The cool juices and syrups and tinctures and mixtures and all that stuff makes a lot of the fun.”
So let’s talk about the most delicious, interesting, balanced and easy to make mocktails you should be serving at your next holiday gathering. Forget the FOMO and forget the liquor and instead try these cool cocktails that will help holiday sobriety seem a lot more manageable.
9 Cranberry Pomegranate “Bellinis”
Typically a bellini involves a peach nectar or puree, but these “bellinis” have a fresh twist that involves season fruit and zero booze. This tasty mocktail uses sparkling water instead of Prosecco (of course you could choose to substitute champagne or Prosecco should anyone be interested in an alcoholic drink), and simple syrup created from a mix of cranberry juice, pomegranate juice and sugar. Fresh lime juice adds a little tart flavor to balance the drink, and the result is a bubbly treat that looks as festive as it tastes.
8 Cranberry Cider Punch
Perfectly packed with autumnal spiced syrup, this punch is non-alcoholic but not lacking in flavor. It’s bursting with cranberries, and the mix of cranberry juice and apple cider makes it juicy and tart but not too sweet. And don’t skip the crushed ice; it really makes the drink.
7 Rosemary Citrus Spritzer
You often think of spritzers as the perfect alcoholic beverages for daytime summer cocktails. But this non-alcoholic spritzer is perfect for the holidays and liquor-free. We love the combination of rosemary with fresh citrus and honey.
6 Holiday Mule
The colors of this mocktail just scream holidays — red and purple and green, all mixed together and served in a festive copper mug. This mule uses ginger ale instead of ginger beer, so the whole family, including kids, can enjoy this yummy beverage at your next holiday party.
5 Christmas Punch
For punch lovers who want to serve something a little more sophisticated this holiday season, this mocktail is a must-try. Orange juice, cranberry juice and pomegranate juice serve as the base, plus some Sprite for bubbly goodness. And the mix of fresh cranberries and orange slices with pomegranate seeds give texture and make the punch bowl look gorgeous.
4 Holiday Cranberry Pomegranate Mojito
Fresh lime juice and fresh mint are what make this mocktail so special; it’s so tasty you won’t even miss the alcohol. And instead of traditional simple syrup, with this drink you’ll infuse the syrup with a cranberry reduction, making it even more seasonal and festive.
3 Virgin Mary
If you’re hosting a holiday brunch then serving Blood Mary’s is pretty much a requirement. But that doesn’t mean you need to serve a boozy drink — instead mix up a Virgin Mary to spice up your holiday fiesta. This recipe has all of the same great flavors of a traditional bloody Mary, minus the vodka. And if you really want to make it fun, build a virgin Mary self-service bar, where guests can mix and match their own toppings and spices (think hot sauce, celery salt, ground pepper, old bay seasoning etc.)
2 El Submarino
Instead of hot cocoa, serve this Argentinian hot chocolate, which is a little more grown up and super sweet and comforting during the holidays. The ingredient list is short and simple: chocolate, almond milk and sugar. All you do is heat the milk slowly over low heat (don’t let it bowl) and add in the sugar, then pour the warmed mixture into mugs. Add in a square of chocolate and let it melt as you enjoy.
1 Sparkling Peach Sunrise
Fresh peaches may be out of season during the holiday season, but have no fear — peach nectar works really well for this drink. The combination of peach with citrus soda and grenadine (that red cocktail syrup made you loved as a kid) makes a refreshing mocktail that guests of all ages will love.