How to order a mocktail and sound classy

How to order a mocktail and sound super classy

Hi! Do you like to socially drink liquids but find yourself, for some reason, unable to consume alcohol? Are you temporarily pregnant (an accurate statement!), taking medicine that doesn’t play well with alcohol, or just engaging in a “dry” month? Do you still want to take part in the social activity of “going to a bar to hang out”?? WELL, I’VE GOT NEWS FOR YOU! You can still get tasty, thoughtful drinks crafted by your favorite mixologists! You just have to know when, where, and how to order a mocktail (your alcohol-free concoctions, for newbs). Fortunately, this pregnant liquor-aficionado has figured it out and is here to show you the way.

It’s not terribly difficult, but you may still run into some awkward moments or less-than-amazing results. That’s okay! You have to remember that you are now in the 1% of people who is going for something beyond a club soda + lime or cranberry + soda at a bar but still can’t have alcohol. It’s a rough business, but — if you’ll pardon the pun — the juice is worth the squeeze.

So never fear, and don’t feel self-conscious, just follow these tips and you’ll be ordering and sipping teetotaler-friendly drankz in no time!

When: Slow Times

empty bar
Cement this image in your mind. If a bar looks like this, they probably have time for your ~special request.

This one should seem relatively obvious, but a sports bar during playoffs is a TERRIBLE time to try and get the bartender to do you a solid. “But it’s their job to make me a drink!,” you may whine, to which I encourage you to remember their job is to show up and sling brews and make sure no one leaves in too bad of shape while being yelled at by mostly awful people, so remember to tip well.

AND THEN I encourage you to not try this at any busy bar, ever. If you have to wait more than about 30 seconds to get the bartender/mixologist’s attention, just ask for a Topo Chico or a soda water with lime and step away from the bar. Or give up and drink water if you’re really not feeling the herd of boozers crowding the good bartender.

TL;DR: Crowd at the bar? Teetotalers stay far. (Sure.)

Where: Spirit- and Craft-focused Bars

More accurately, this should read: Where? Not at the afore-mentioned, beer-slinging sports bars or rowdy college dives. Or any “dive”, come to think of it. They’re less likely to have both the means and the patience to thoughtfully concoct a charming little mocktail for you. (Not that they wouldn’t be into it — I don’t want to paint with too broad a brush! But let’s face it, that’s not what they’re expecting from clientele and it’s probably just not a good fit.)

That being said, you should go ahead and feel comfortable engaging with your bartender in a mocktail-curious conversation at a craft or spirit-focused cocktail establishment, or at a swankier restaurant (read: NOT CHAINS) bar during a slow time. These places are way more likely to have house-made mixers (think: sour, grenadine, orgeat) or bitters that could be blended together in interesting ways to tickle your alcohol-free palate. In fact, some of these places may even have a set of alcohol-free “cocktails” that they serve during lunches — never hurts to ask! (Well, except if you decide to ask during a super busy time or in wholly the wrong kind of establishment.)

TL;DR: If neon signs are blinking, it’s not a great place for mocktail-drinking.

How: Patience, kindness, and a little self-deprecation

This really should be the easiest and most obvious one of all: be the person you’d want to make a special drink for in your own home. Yes, the golden rule comes into play here, too! Remember that these good folks behind the bar probably make about the same 12 – 20 drinks all day, every day they’re on the clock, and you may be asking them to step outside of that routine and reflex and put on their thinking caps. It requires some patience and sweetness on your part, but if you’ve got the right place, time, and person, it should be well worth it.

There’s also a wrong and a better way (there’s no one single right way!) to start the conversation. Instead of saying, “Hi, I’m obviously pregnant and can’t drink. What can you make for me that doesn’t have alcohol in it but feels fancy?” maybe try, “Hey there. These are some really beautiful concoctions you’re putting together! Do you have a minute to put together something without alcohol in it for me? I like bright drinks with a lot of citrus flavors and I’m not afraid of a little spice.” Ya gotta give the dog a bone to work with here — start them out with a few directions that they could take the drink then be ready to answer a few questions. Here are some other flavor “starter” concepts that you could drop, depending on what you’re into:

  • I like lightly fruity flavors and herbal notes. (Ding ding! They know it’s cool to muddle some berries and mint/basil/tarragon/whatever they use in their other fancy drinks together in a glass for you and top with soda water.)
  • I like sweeter drinks with bubbles in them. (Rad — juices and grenadine and maybe their fancy infused house simple syrup plus sparkling water and you’re set.)
  • I typically like bitter flavors and neat drinks. (No ice! House bitters and a little simple and flat water and that’s a wrap.)
  • I typically like tiki drinks/sours but I’m avoiding alcohol/alcohol and raw egg. (This signals that they should use typical ingredients in each of these drink categories — orgeat, fruit juices, etc. and lemon juice and simple syrup, respectively — but just remove the spirits.)

Maybe you weren’t a seasoned pro at talking about what drinks you liked before you stopped imbibing the hard stuff, but I promise you this is a great way to start getting comfortable with it. Talking about cocktails shouldn’t be as intimidating as talking about beer or wine — really! It’s just like cooking, except without the stress of burning stuff! But it is still a flavors and ingredients game and everyone has their preferences and it’s a big wide continuum to work and play in.

And, of course, don’t be afraid, as you are chatting with your new friend bartender, to apologize and thank them for helping your special case. They will (hopefully) be gracious about it, and maybe even appreciate the challenge, but you are still being a snowflake and it’s good to call attention to that and own it and the inconvenience it creates like the un-entitled grown-up you are.

Now get out there and see what the folks behind the bar can scheme up for ya!

A delightful frothy, effervescently refreshing, and just a tad sweet cocktail featuring peaches & cream shrub and your favorite bourbon!

Peaches & Cream Bourbon Fizz Cocktail

S P R I N G T I M E! There are so many things to love about it. One of them, especially when you’re deep in the heart of Texas, is peaches. Fresh, beautiful, juicy Fredericksburg peaches are truly something to write home about. And knowing that peach season was approaching, I couldn’t help myself but jump the gun a little a make a peach shrub. But not just any peach shrub. No, I’m not ready to leave behind my brown liquor yet. Plus, there’s always the possibility of a late cold snap. So I leaned into creamy drinks and treats and landed on a peaches & cream shrub that pairs just beautifully with bourbon for a fizzed cocktail you won’t be able to get enough of.

A delightful frothy, effervescently refreshing, and just a tad sweet cocktail featuring peaches & cream shrub and your favorite bourbon!

Peaches & Cream Shrub

While OBVIOUSLY, I would have preferred to bring fresh, beautiful peaches into this first shrub of the season, they just aren’t ready yet. And when they are, I’ll make a bright and tangy shrub with them (maybe add tarragon?! or tamarind?? So many possibilities!). But until then, frozen will do nicely. That’s one of the terrific things about shrubs — frozen fruit really doesn’t make much material difference in the final result, so you can shortcut and get close to the flavors you want regardless of season.

For this guy, the recipe was pretty straight forward:

  • 3 cups frozen peaches
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Shake those two up in a big glass jar and let sit for a day. Mash with the back of a wooden spoon, then add:
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • Let sit another week in the fridge. Run everything through the blender, then strain using a cheesecloth or strainer or not at all, if you are into having some peach pulp in your shrub. Up to you, homes.

Boom! You’re done. And you have this delicious, tangy-sweet peachy syrup that you can add to anything from vodka to mezcal for a springtime mixer that’s above the ordinary.

peaches & cream shrub in process

However, for our ~Southern purposes, we will be adding it to whiskey and topping with club soda because 1) fizz is a great word to add to a cocktail name, and 2) whiskey and peaches are a match made in heaven.

Mix & Fizz

You know how I love a simple cocktail name, right? One that’s totally descriptive of what’s gonna be in your glass? Do you see where I’m going with this?

Now that you’ve got your peaches & cream shrub, the rest of this cocktail is easy-peasy. (Exactly as it should be for something you’re mixing up on a breezy spring day!) Just add your bourbon and shrub over ice, mix, and top with club soda! Perfectly uncomplicated for whether this is your first happy hour sip or the last drink of the night.

Peaches & Cream Bourbon Fizz
Ingredients
  1. 1.5 oz peaches & cream shrub (see recipe above)
  2. 1.5 oz bourbon of choice
  3. top with club soda
Instructions
  1. Fill an old fashioned glass (or similar) with ice.
  2. Pour in shrub and bourbon, then mix with a spoon to incorporate.
  3. Fill with another 2 - 4 oz of club soda, mix again and enjoy!
Notes
  1. Don't feel up to making the shrub? Just swap out for peach syrup or even peach preserves and a dash of vanilla extract to approximate the flavors!
Domestic AF http://domesticaf.com/
A delightful frothy, effervescently refreshing, and just a tad sweet cocktail featuring peaches & cream shrub and your favorite bourbon!
A delightful frothy, effervescently refreshing, and just a tad sweet cocktail featuring peaches & cream shrub and your favorite bourbon!

Go for a Peaches & Cream & Bourbon & Fizz when…

This is an easy one! These flavors are classic and homey, every bit as comforting and refreshing as pie and ice cream. In fact, this is basically peach pie a la mode in cocktail form! (With a little Southern kick — and no one’s complaining!) So mix one up next time:

  • You invite a few gals over for happy hour and it’s juuuuuuuust hot enough that you want to turn on the outside fans and really soak up your Southern belle-ness.
  • You’re hosting a baby shower and want to provide some nice “adult” beverages to take the edge off of all the squealing and “OH MY GAWWWW”ing and pastel-induced hysteria.
  • You want something quick, easy, and of variable proof (hey, you can always play with the ratio of bourbon to shrub and seltzer!) but if you drink any more beer you’re pretty sure you will wake up as a hop or grain. This baby balances the sweet and the tart better than any hefe I’ve ever had. <3
Sweet (red) vermouth, dark rum, and honey simple syrup make up this cocktail that's sweet, herbal, and perfect to end your day with.

Red, Rum, & Honey Cocktail

For reasons unknown, I’m having my vermouth moment. Vermouth intrigues me, partially because it’s an alcoholic mixer. Partially because I can keep it in the fridge and not stress about it going bad before I can use it. And, on top of that, I’m into it as a way to make other alcohol BETTER. So yeah, I guess vermouth and I are “talking.” Which is why I figured out how to use the sweet kind in this new, simple cocktail. Just red, rum, & honey. Hang tight, you’ll get it in a second. Continue reading “Red, Rum, & Honey Cocktail”

History & recipe for the Sazerac: rye whiskey, Peychaud's bitters, absinthe, sugar cube, and lemon peel. Learn to make it properly and thank me later!

Serious Cocktails: The Sazerac

There are a lot of different types of cocktails out there. Bubbly cocktails. Fruity cocktails. Cocktails that require straws. Cocktails that are best shared. Even some that are better made by the pitcher! (These are rare.) But I would remiss if I didn’t, from time to time, call out the serious cocktails. Cocktails that are about the booze, front and center. They deserve to be hailed in a class of their own, and I intend to do so, starting now. This is the first post in a series I’ll be working on about SERIOUS COCKTAILS. And, with Fat Tuesday just behind us, what better place to start than with the Sazerac? Continue reading “Serious Cocktails: The Sazerac”

Three great cocktail recipes featuring Dr Pepper as the main (or only!) mixer. Dr Pepper versions of a Cuba Libre (rum & coke), Jack & Coke (with whiskey!), and Kalimoxto -- an amazing wine cocktail.

Dr Pepper Cocktails

I often refer to myself as an “almost-native” Texan or Austinite. I love this distinction because we moved here when I was less than a year old, and I still live here. In fact, I’ve only spent a little over a year away from Austin. (Grad school in London, so sue me.) And as a good Texan, I have a certain affinity for Dr. Pepper. I never sported the “I’m a Pepper!” gear, but I always welcome a cold glass of the stuff on a steamy summer day. Now as a proud amateur mixologist, I’ve noticed a few great cocktails that feature Coke. Yes, Coca-Cola, the American classic. But I thought it was time to put DP to the test and see if there were some Dr Pepper cocktails worth their salt.  Continue reading “Dr Pepper Cocktails”

Rosemary-honey vodka, elderflower liqueur, dry vermouth, and lemon mix for a perfectly balanced floral cocktail.

All Swell Cocktail

You know the saying “all’s well that ends well”? That’s how I feel about this cocktail. All Swell (that ends well) since it took me forever to land on a *new* recipe that used some of my leftover wedding vodka infusion. Yep, this cocktail came about because even though my loved ones are excellent at drinking, I had three handles of my rosemary honey vodka to spare after marrying my beloved. Never being one to let good vodka go to waste, I set about finding a SECOND wonderful drink to enjoy my infusion with. Continue reading “All Swell Cocktail”

Raspberry, rye, and molasses dominate this slow-burning, tangy sweet cocktail that's perfect for fireside evenings spent pouring over a book.

Raspberry + Rye Cocktail

You know that feeling when you just need to be transported to a dusty, leather-filled library for a night? When the real world is just a bit too much (maybe since January 20th…) and you know the only respite you need is a reliable, beloved tome and a glass of something brown and smooth? It’s a very distinct calling, and I’ve felt it more than a few times this winter. Something about the world outside my home that makes me long for the comfort of a classic, indulgent night in. It’s what led me to come up with this cocktail, a raspberry rye concoction that lends itself to a quiet, cozy evening. Continue reading “Raspberry + Rye Cocktail”

Blueberry Elderflower Sparkler Cocktail Recipe - Elderflower liqueur + cava + blueberry shrub = Blueberry Elderflower Sparkler. A floral, tart beauty of a champagne cocktail that's perfect for girls night!

Blueberry Elderflower Sparkler

It’s February! Which means I can drink again! I’ll be honest, I kind of missed coming up with new cocktails and writing about them. But now that my January Whole30 is over, I am delighted to be back in the Drinks game. And for my first cocktail of the new year, what better place to start than a Blueberry Elderflower Sparkler?! This champagne cocktail has it all: glitz, glamor, and a home-made mixer! Continue reading “Blueberry Elderflower Sparkler”