A Glug of Oil

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A Short Guide to Making Non-Alcoholic Cocktails

Since the dawn of civilization, certain rules of civility have persisted across cultures all around the world.

Be courteous. Hold the door. When you invite someone into your home, offer them something to drink.

Three cocktails in glasses

This last one stirs an interesting issue. What do you do if you’re having a gathering, small or large? Do you offer everyone one drink, the local favourite, or a variety?

A variety is best and accounts for different tastes and includes more participants, creating a more welcoming atmosphere. This is, after all, at the heart of all gatherings.

It is in the spirit of this welcoming atmosphere that we should turn our attention to the matter of alcohol.

To those of us who do partake, it might be something that doesn’t cross our minds, to have a non-alcoholic option at a gathering where drinking is taking place.

However, consider that there is no better way to make those who don’t drink to feel at home.

There may even be times where a host might choose to make all beverages non-alcoholic at a gathering, either to ensure safe drives home or to make all guests feel welcomed.

No matter your reason for learning the art of non-alcoholic cocktails, here are a few key features that will help you master a wide range of mixes.

Use Quality Bases

Most sodas have a very powerful flavour that guests will notice. If a drink calls for tonic water and grenadine (flavoured syrup) as a base, don’t get Cherry Sprite to save money. The taste will be dramatically affected, and guests will notice.

This is where you will find the most difference in your alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails. When the recipe inevitably calls for liquor, omit it! The basic flavour of the drink will remain.

Fresh Ingredients: Fantastic 

Part of what makes a drink a “cocktail” is the incorporation of fresh ingredients.

This could be a celery stalk in a Bloody Mary or a lime slice in a mojito. Don’t underestimate the impact that these fruits and vegetables can have on a drink.

A juicer can help you incorporate all kinds of different fruits into your non-alcoholic cocktails! Some cocktails even call for fresh juice as part of their base.

If you find yourself leaning towards one of these recipes, a juicer will take its flavour to the next level. Nothing beats mixing in an ingredient free of preservatives or additives. 

Follow Instructions

This is something unique to cocktails that shouldn’t be underestimated. Whereas other drinks amount essentially to “pour all of these in one container”, cocktails usually come with specific instructions on combining ingredients. This holds true for alcoholic and non-alcoholic renditions.

If a recipe tells you to mix lightly with a straw, mix lightly with a straw. If it says to pour the syrup in first, follow the procedure.

If your cocktail is to be poured over crushed ice, make sure the proper texture is there ready for it before you pour. 

It may sound silly, but each cocktail is designed to elicit a certain experience. Alter the preparation, and you alter the experience!

Don’t Skimp on the Garnish!

This might be the most tempting area to overlook in crafting a non-alcoholic cocktail.

Garnishes can be anything from mint leaves to citrus wedges to salt on the rim of a glass. They are sometimes the most expensive part of a cocktail, but adding them can make all the difference.

Garnishes are the key difference between a cocktail and a mixed drink. If you’re looking to impress guests and create a more upscale atmosphere, you simply cannot skip them.

The presentation of a few leaves suspended in a glass can help a drink send an entirely different message to your guests.

Keep it Classy, for everyone 

The next time you’re having people over, and you know one of them doesn’t drink alcohol, remember this article.

You might prepare several special drinks with or without alcohol for guests to choose at their own leisure. You might make all drinks non-alcoholic to create an inclusive atmosphere.

Whichever approach you take, remember to keep the essence of what makes something a cocktail intact! Use quality bases for the drink, add fresh ingredients, and don’t forget that garnish!

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