Summer has arrived and that means cocktails by the pool and weekend barbecues. But just because you don’t drink — or choose to cut back on alcohol — it doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the festivities. There are definitely beverages you can enjoy, sans alcohol. The possibilities for delicious non-alcoholic drinks are endless and more bountiful than ever — and these alcohol-free cocktails, or mocktails, have been growing in popularity.
We talked to several bartenders, chefs, dietitians and restaurant managers to bring you 12 mocktail recipes to whip up when you’re looking for a night off from the booze:
This is a healthy mocktail from the team at Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo. The drink, says head barman, Mickael Bellec, “is the ideal brunch mocktail beverage and a healthier alternative to the traditional mimosa thanks to ingredients such as spinach and ginger.” He describes the concoction as “a mocktail you don’t have to feel guilty drinking before 5 p.m.”
- 10 spinach leaves
- 5 basil leaves
- 1/2 green apple, diced
- 2 slices fresh ginger
- 2/3 cup apple juice
- 3 ice cubes
Pulse all ingredients in a blender until smooth and enjoy!
CUCUMBER BASIL COOLER
“The refreshing cucumber basil cooler has detoxifying lemonade, hydrating cucumber and anti-inflammatory basil to help keep you cool and extra hydrated throughout the warm summer months, while still being a delicious drink with cocktail-like presentation,” says Berny Centeno, general manager of Ghost Ranch, a modern southwestern restaurant in Tempe, Arizona.
- 1 ounce lemon juice
- 3/4 ounce simple syrup or desired sweetener
- 4 cucumber slices
- 3 big basil leaves
- 8 ounces sparkling water
In a cup, muddle 3 cucumber slices with the basil.
Add lemon and simple syrup and slowly incorporate the sparkling water. Stir the ingredients, then add the desired amount of ice and garnish with a cucumber wheel and a small basil leaf for extra fragrance.
PEACHES + HONEY
Maggie Michalczyk, a registered dietitian in Chicago, says this is a great drink for the summer. “It’s refreshing and the perfect thing to enjoy during any socially distant get-together this summer or when you’re just looking to make date night at home a little extra special and fun,” she proclaims. Her peaches and honey mocktail is made with wholesome ingredients like a whole peach and a DIY honey-lime syrup, plus, essentials like sparkling water. “I like that this one is lightly sweetened and that honey is just honey, meaning, no chemical additives or ingredient manipulation is done to create honey,” says Michalczyk.
- 1 1/2 ounces honey-lime syrup (recipe below)
- 2–3 fresh basil leaves
- 4 ounces sparkling water
- 1 ripe peach, sliced
For honey-lime syrup
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
In a small saucepan combine honey, 1/2 cup warm water and lime juice. Heat on low and mix together, being careful not to let the water boil.
Remove from heat once combined. Muddle basil in a tall glass or cocktail shaker; add sparkling water, 1 1/2 ounces honey-lime syrup and a couple of peach slices. Shake to combine.
Pour over ice and garnish with additional lime and peach slices.
STRAWBERRY WATERMELON AGUA FRESCA
This mocktail, by Jenn Lavardera, a registered dietitian and Naturipe Farms nutrition expert in Southampton, New York, is packed with vitamin C and antioxidants. It’s sweetened with fresh fruit and just a hint of cane sugar. Lavardera says it’s something the entire family can enjoy together. “Kids will love the combination of watermelon and strawberry,” she adds. As watermelon contains lycopene and has been shown to help with recovery post exercise, Lavardera deems this “perfect for happy hour after getting in a run.” She also says to have fun by topping it off with fruity garnishes.
- 2 cups strawberries, hulled and quartered
- 3 cups watermelon cubes
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons cane sugar
- 4 strawberries, optional garnish
- 4 slices watermelon, optional garnish
Combine strawberries and 1/2 cup water in a blender, and process until fruit is pureed and liquid is smooth. Place a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl and pour in the strawberry puree. Gently help work the puree through the strainer to remove the seeds and excess pulp (there should be about 1–2 teaspoons seeds and pulp left behind). Rinse blender and discard pulp.
Add strained strawberry liquid back into the blender. Add watermelon and 2 1/2 cups water and blend until fruit is pureed and liquid is smooth. Repeat straining process (there should be about 1 tablespoon seeds and pulp remaining). Rinse out blender and discard pulp.
Add strained fruit liquid back into the blender. Add lime juice and sugar and blend to combine.
To serve, pour agua fresca into 4–6 glasses over ice. Garnish with a fresh strawberry and watermelon slice, if desired.
FROZEN PINEAPPLE DRAGON FRUIT MARGARITA
The mocktail of choice for Jessica Randhawa, head chef, recipe creator, photographer, and writer behind The Forked Spoon. “I love swapping the tequila/orange liqueur for pineapple juice to make a healthy, fruit-packed smoothie loved by both kids and adults,” she says. This ice-cold slushy is crisp and refreshing, and the dragon fruit is packed with healthy vitamins and minerals.
- 1 cup pineapple juice
- 2 cups ice
- 12 ounces frozen dragon fruit
- 6 ounces frozen pineapple
- 1/2 cup lime juice, freshly squeezed
Pineapple wedges, dragon fruit and lime, to garnish
Add the pineapple juice, ice, dragon fruit and frozen pineapple to a large high-speed blender. Pulse a few times to start the blending process.
Add fresh lime juice to the blender and process until smooth. If the mixture is too thick, add additional pineapple juice, as needed, to move things along.
Coat the rims of the glasses with sugar or salt and garnish with fresh pineapple, dragon fruit and lime wedges, if desired.
This, says Sarah Cook, founder of the lifestyle and food blog, Sustainable Cooks, is the most popular recipe on her blog. Instead of refined sugar, the drink is flavored with a homemade honey simple syrup. “It’s great for a barbecue, cooling down on a hot summer’s day,” Cook says.
- 10 large mint leaves or 15 small
- 2 tablespoons lime juice, freshly squeezed
- 2 tablespoons honey simple syrup
- Sparkling water
Lime slices, optional garnish
Place the mint leaves and lime juice in a glass and muddle them together for 1 minute. Add the honey simple syrup. Top with the sparkling water.
Chicago-based health coach and eating psychology expert, Karen Malkin, is a fan of this ginger mule. “Sometimes I want the feeling of having a cocktail in my hand but I don’t really want to drink alcohol or have it negatively impact my sleep,” she says.
- 1/4 cup organic lemon juice, freshly squeezed,
- 1 teaspoon zested ginger
- 1/4 organic cucumber, finely sliced
- 12 drops dark liquid stevia
- 18 ounces sparkling water
Combine lemon juice, ginger, cucumber and stevia in a pitcher or jar. Add sparkling water to the mixture and stir. Pour into two ice-filled cocktail glasses. Garnish with lemon wedges.
Lemonade gets a fancier twist with this festive mocktail by Paul Maloney, owner and master mixologist at Stockade Tavern in Kingston, New York.
- 3/4 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 3/4 ounce orgeat (almond syrup)
- Club soda
Pour lemon juice and orgeat into a cocktail shaker. Add 1–2 ice cubes and shake just 3–4 times to blend and chill the ingredients. Strain into a Collins glass and add ice. Top with club soda or seltzer, garnish with a slice of lemon.
T-BAR CHOPIN COSMO
“This is a powerhouse mocktail that is as wonderful for the body as it is delicious,” says Tony Fortuna, owner of TBar Steak & Lounge in New York City. “And each serving is less than 125 calories a glass (less than 100 without the brittle).”
- 2 ounces cranberry juice
- 1 ounce blood orange juice, freshly squeezed
- 1/2 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed
For the cranberry brittle
- 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup chopped dry cranberries
Cook the sugar and 1/4 cup water until it becomes light caramel. Remove from the heat and stir in the cranberries.
Spread the mixture on a flat pan in a thin layer. Let cool and break into small chunks.
Mix the juices together and serve on the rocks.
Dabney Poorter, cofounder and nutritionist at Restore + Revive Wellness Center in Fort Worth, Texas, recommends this drink.
- 2 ounces fresh lime juice
- 5 drops stevia
- 2 teaspoons elderberry syrup
- 6–8 ounces sparkling water
- Fresh raspberries and mint, optional garnish
Combine all ingredients and shake. Pour over ice and serve in a cocktail glass.
“Mangos are high in vitamins A and C, which helps your skin and hair maintain that healthy summer glow all year round,” says Dr. Sylvia Gonsahn-Bollie, an obesity specialist and internal medicine physician in Silver Spring, Maryland. She adds that the drink’s high vitamin C content can also help boost your immune system, plus mocktails are a healthier alternative to alcohol if they are low in sugar (skip the soda or large amounts of juice). “Mocktails can also help with managing your weight.”
- 1/4 cup mango nectar or mango puree
- 1/2 cup flavored sparkling water (orange, mango or lime)
- 1 teaspoon lime or lemon juice
Mix all ingredients together in a glass. Serve chilled.
This is a favorite of Jordan David Smith, head bartender for HALL by ODO, a Japanese bistro in New York City. “This zero-proof libation is light, floral, refreshing, and with any luck, is just complex and evocative enough to have you forgetting it’s not Friday yet,” he explains. Smith says this drink is “fairly good for you, from the antioxidant laden-honey to the digestively beneficial impacts of the tea and the turmeric.”
- 1 ounce chilled hibiscus tea
- 3/4 ounce pineapple juice
- 1/2 ounce agave syrup or honey syrup
- 1/4 ounce lime juice, from 1/2 a small lime
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 pinch turmeric
- 2 ounces club soda (can substitute tonic or ginger ale)
Add all ingredients except the soda to a shaker with ice. Shake firmly and briefly for approximately 3 seconds. If you don’t mind the drink having a less aerated texture, you can skip the shaker and stir the ingredients together. You won’t get the characteristic fluffiness, but the flavor doesn’t suffer.
Add soda and ice to a Collins glass, then strain the shaker into the glass (doing it in this order incorporates everything more evenly, thereby avoiding the dreaded “only soda” first sip).
Discover hundreds of healthy recipes — from high protein to low carb — via “Recipe Discovery” in the MyFitnessPal app.