Spirit-free drinking doesn’t have to be spiritless. No matter why you aren’t imbibing, you can still sip a zero-proof drink with loads of flavor. We asked four local bartenders to share their must-have ingredients and recipes for creating complex nonalcoholic drinks at home.
Must-haves for your nonalcoholic bar
1. Fever-Tree Spiced Orange Ginger Ale
David Mor, beverage director of Robert et Fils, uses this soda to lengthen beverages and pack in flavor. “It adds elements of spice and fruit and creates a warming drink,” he says. For a highball, mix 3½ ounces of it over ice with 1 ounce of nonalcoholic Lyre’s American Malt, 1 ounce of Seedlip Spice 94, ¼ ounce of lemon juice, and ¼ ounce of simple syrup. Finish with a lemon peel. Available at Binny’s locations
Ben Fasman of the pop-up Sao Song makes mint, Thai basil, cilantro, lime leaves, and lemongrass into syrups by blending the blanched herbs with sugar and water. He also adds herbs to the shaker tin. “I like the intense freshness of shaking with herbs.”
3. Seedlip NonAlcoholic Spirits
Kumiko creative director Julia Momosé uses Spice 94, which has baking spice notes, and Garden 108, which reminds her of an orange tree grove. She likes them because they’re aromatic and restrained: “They make it easy to craft delicious drinks by providing inspiration through their flavor.” Mor uses Spice 94 in his highball. Available at Binny’s locations
This nutty syrup gives body and sweetness to tropical drinks. “Lime juice, coconut milk, pineapple juice, and an almond orgeat would be delicious,” Fasman says. He adds a dash of orange flower water or rosewater to his orgeat to brighten it. Available at Binny’s locations
5. Topo Chico and Lime
Courtland Green of Dove’s Luncheonette taps these grocery store staples for a variety of spirit-free beverages, including a refreshing, savory michelada: Rim a glass with Tajín Clásico seasoning, add ice to the glass along with 5 dashes of Cholula hot sauce, 2 dashes of Maggi seasoning, 2 ounces of Clamato juice, and 1 ounce of lime juice, then stir and top with Topo Chico.
6. Lapsang Souchong
Teas are a versatile component, and Rare Tea Cellar’s lapsang souchong lends a smokiness reminiscent of mezcal. Fasman turns it into syrup, and he loves making tea ice cubes — as the cubes melt, they add complexity in the form of tannins and smoke to whatever drink they’re in. rareteacellar.com
Julia Momosé’s Golden One
|2 oz.||Chilled green tea|
|1 oz.||Kinmokusei syrup|
|¼ oz.||Lemon juice|
|1 oz.||Yuzu juice|
|Tonic water to top|
|Thyme sprig to garnish|
1. To make the kinmokusei syrup, combine 1 tablespoon dried kinmokusei (gold osmanthus) flowers with 1 cup boiled water, and steep for 6 minutes. Strain. Weigh and add an equal amount of sugar by weight. Store refrigerated for up to a week. Makes 10 ounces.
2. In a shaker tin, combine the chilled green tea, kinmokusei syrup, lemon juice, and yuzu juice with ice. Shake, then strain into a chilled highball glass over ice, top with tonic water, and garnish with thyme.
Note: Osmanthus and yuzu juice are available at Rare Tea Cellar and Amazon.