If you’ve been keeping up with the cocktail boom that hit our city in the early 2010s, you’d know that it’s not hard to track down a hand-crafted libation that’ll satisfy the most particular of palates. From folks that crave the light, sweet and bubbly to those who need a good robust and viscous concoction, plenty of bars in the 2-1-0 have you covered.
But what happens when you’re looking for something that looks and tastes delicious but requires the bartender to remove a key ingredient – alcohol – from the whole equation? “Why in the hell would you want to take the alcohol out?,” “Who would do that?,” “Blasphemer!” But taking the fire out of the water isn’t as uncommon as it seems, because there are plenty of folks who need to avoid alcohol for a number of reasons: be it pregnancy, recovery from alcohol, or just trying not to get too sloshed in front of a coworker during happy hour. Whatever the case, alcohol-free cocktails, better known as mocktails, exist and they’re tasty as hell, so we wanted to bring a few to your attention you could order at almost any cocktail bar, or make at home for yourself.
The consensus from the dozen-or-so bartenders we hit up for this article is that the mocktails they make for their patrons are generally concocted on a case-by-case basis, which, is actually awesome because you can just throw some adjectives like sweet and fruity, or herbaceous and bright at your drink-makers and they’ll be able to build you something that’s perfect for you.
However, here are a few recipes these local keepers of the bar shared with us.
Probably the simplest go-to mocktail you could make at home or order out (especially brunching with your besties) is a michelada, but instead of beer, ask your bartender to use Topo-Chico. Denise Hernández, who bartends at La Botanica, shared that the vegan, LBGTQ-friendly joint does a michelada with Topo-Chico instead of beer.
1 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh black pepper
1 ounce of La Botanica’s escabeche
1 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
15 dashes Tabasco
1 ounce lime juice
1/2 ounce pickle juice
3 ounce tomato/vegetable blend
Topo-Chico, for topping
Mix all ingredients and top with Topo-Chico
Kris Torres from Blue Box shared a recipe with us that may require a little preparation, since one of the ingredients is cinnamon syrup, but if you happen to be at the Pearl’s first official watering hole, you’ll definitely be able to order this concoction named “Nice Girls Can Have Fun Too” (lol, what) that’s great for the holiday season.
1/2 ounce apple juice
1/2 ounce orange juice
1/2 ounce lemon juice
1/2 ounce cinnamon syrup
1 ounce water
Shake, strain, top with Topo Chico
Andy Luna, who’s bartended at a few joints around the Alamo City, hit us up with this drink that includes Angostura bitters, which contains alcohol, but a few drops (literally, a few dashes) really isn’t going to affect you – if you’re not willing to chance it this drink will be tasty without it.
2-3 sprigs mint
3/4 ounce lime
3/4 ounce simple syrup
Build in a Collins glass. Top with ginger beer and Angostura bitters.