What Is a Mocktail?

Mocktails are non-alcoholic mixed drinks meant to replicate the presentation and complexity of craft cocktails, just without the alcohol. To make mocktails, bartenders mix combinations of sodas, juices, herbs, and syrups to create unique flavors. They also use the same mixology methods and tools they would use with regular mixed drinks. The final product is a non-alcoholic beverage that should be enjoyed and savored, just like a well-mixed cocktail. If you haven't jumped on this new bar trend yet, consider adding mocktails to your beverage menu.

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Mocktail Drinks

Mocktail Drink

Virgin cocktails aren't a new invention. Drinks like the Shirley Temple, a blend of ginger ale and grenadine, have been around for a long time. While this well-known drink is delicious in its own right, the new mocktail is an elevated version of the standard non-alcoholic drink. A good mocktail not only tastes great, but it's also crafted with as much care as a standard cocktail. These are some attributes of a modern mocktail:

  • Presented in a cocktail glass that complements the drink.
  • Contains garnishes, rimming salt, or rimming sugar
  • Blends multiple unique ingredients to create complex flavors
  • Uses mixology methods for entertaining preparation

Mocktail Recipe: Lemongrass-Basil Buss

Check out our take on the modern virgin cocktail with a refreshing lemongrass mocktail recipe. When preparing the lemongrass, be sure to peel away the tough outer layers and use the tender heart of the stalk. You’ll need at least 6 stalks to get 1 cup. You can buy lemongrass at Asian markets and sometimes in your local supermarket. If you can’t find lemongrass, you can substitute 1 tablespoon of lemon zest.

How to Make a Mocktail Video

Use the following video to learn how to make the lemongrass-basil buss mocktail:

Ingredients

Mocktail Ingredients
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups fresh Thai or Genovese basil leaves; more for muddling and garnish
  • 1 cup lemongrass, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup sanding sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 2 ounces fresh orange juice
  • 4 ounces double strength brewed white tea
  • 4 ounces fresh lime juice
  • Orange twists, for garnish

Directions

Mocktail Process
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the water, sugar, basil, and lemongrass or lemon zest and bring to a boil. Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the mixture to steep for two hours. Strain and chill. This simple syrup can be made ahead of time and kept chilled under your bar until you need it.
  2. Combine the sanding sugar, salt, and orange zest in a shallow bowl or plate. Lightly moisten the rims of two large rocks glasses with a wedge of lemon, lime, or orange. Press each glass rim into the sugar mixture.
  3. Add four basil leaves, white tea, 3 ounces of the simple syrup, lime juice, and orange juice to a cocktail shaker and muddle them together. Fill with ice and shake.
  4. Fill the prepared glasses with one large ice cube or regular ice. Divide the mixture between the glasses and garnish each with a basil sprig and orange twist.

Mocktail FAQ

Below we cover some of the most common questions asked about mocktails:

Mocktail vs Cocktail

The biggest difference between a mocktail and a cocktail is the presence of alcohol. However, there are differences between the two that exist outside of this. Since mocktails contain no alcohol at all, a key part of the mixture is missing, forcing bartenders and mixologists to get creative with their ingredients. Many mixologists utilize a combination of unique herbs and spices in their mocktails to provide a similar sensation to drinking a cocktail.

What Is a Virgin Cocktail?

Mocktail

You’ll often hear mocktails referred to as a “virgin cocktail” because the two names are used interchangeably. Any type of virgin drink is a drink that has an ABV level between 0 and 0.05%. These types of drinks are becoming increasingly more common, as some customers are looking to cut alcohol out of their life for health reasons.

What Is a Mocktail Bar?

As mocktails have grown in popularity, specific locations dedicated to virgin cocktails have popped up. These locations are known as mocktail bars and typically have an extensive menu of mocktails to choose from. In a mocktail bar, you can have a great alternative bar experience that allows you to easily order non-alcoholic drinks.


Consider creating a mocktail menu to accompany your cocktail list. More consumers are choosing to limit their alcohol consumption or abstain completely, making mocktail recipes more prevalent in the bar scene. An exciting list of craft mocktails ensures that everyone can enjoy a flavorful, refreshing beverage when they visit your bar or restaurant.

By Michale LeRoy
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