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Our 10 Favorite Holiday Mocktails

Sober party drinks don't have to be boring, as The Fix staff recently discovered. From the sweet mock cosmo to the complex New England buck, find out which we liked best—and how to make them.

  • Fix staffers and writers got together on Monday afternoon to taste-test a batch—10 batches, to be accurate—of inventive non-alcoholic holiday beverages, from drinkable desserts like the "hot apple pie" to zingy bolts of refreshment like the ginger-jalapeno mocktail. As they say, there is no accounting for taste—so we had each Fixie score each drink, and provide a few "tasting notes" as well. Click through the following slides to see which we liked best, and which—not so much.

  • Mock cosmo

    Ingredients:
    Lemon juice
    Grenadine
    Mint
    Sprite

    Combine lemon juice, grenadine, torn-up mint leaves and ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake until well-mixed, and strain into a martini glass. Add a splash of Sprite and stir.

    Tasting notes:
    “Leaves a syrupy aftertaste.”
    “A bit like a Shirley Temple.”

    Score: 4.8 (out of 10)

  • Sage presse

    Ingredients:
    1/2 Meyer lemon
    Sugar
    Sage leaves
    Salt
    Seltzer

    Cut the half-lemon into quarters and muddle with a pinch of salt and one tablespoon of sugar in the bottom of a glass. Add four sage leaves to the mixture, and muddle again to release the sage’s aroma. Divide into four glasses, add ice, top with seltzer and stir.

    Tasting notes:
    “Nice but a little salty; tastes like the forest.”
    “Bleakly medicinal—surely the kiss of death for any sober holiday party.”

    Score: 4.8

  • Winter pear delight

    Ingredients:
    Pear nectar
    Maple syrup
    Hot water
    Cocoa powder

    Heat pear nectar in the microwave or on the stove. Moisten hot mug rims, and dip in cocoa powder. Divide pear nectar into mugs, and add a small shot of maple syrup to each. Dilute the remaining mixture with hot water, to taste.

    Tasting notes:
    “Real good. Yum city. Too sweet as-is, but would be nice with hot water and a fireplace.”
    “A caramel hit, but not a stayer.”

    Score: 4.9

  • Juniper & tonic

    Ingredients:
    Juniper syrup (see below)
    4 oz. fresh lime juice
    8 oz. tonic water
    Thinly sliced lime rounds

    Juniper syrup
    1 cup sugar
    2 oz. juniper berries, lightly crushed

    To make the syrup: Combine sugar, one cup water and juniper berries in a saucepan. Simmer for 20 minutes. Let stand for four hours, then strain into a glass container.

    To make the drinks: Pour one part lime juice and two parts juniper syrup into a cocktail shaker, and shake. Pour the mixture into ice-filled glasses, top with tonic water and garnish with lime slices.

    Tasting notes:
    “Love it. A little too sweet, maybe, but has a sort of nice empty dry flavor because of the juniper.”
    “Holy crap this tastes like gin & tonic. Yuck!"

    Score: 5.4

  • Tuscan fresco

    Ingredients:
    2 rosemary springs
    1 oz. peach nectar
    1 oz. white cranberry juice
    1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice
    1/2 oz. simple syrup
    1 oz. chilled club soda

    Combine one rosemary sprig, peach nectar, white cranberry juice, lemon juice, simple syrup and ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake well and strain into ice-filled glasses. Stir in the club soda and garnish with a rosemary sprig.

    Tasting notes:
    “Tastes sherbert-y, like Champagne punch.”
    “Sweet, syrupy and pleasurable—in small doses.”

    Score: 5.9

  • Fauxhito

    Ingredients:
    Limes
    Fresh mint
    Sugar
    Seltzer

    Muddle together freshly cut limes, mint leaves and 3 tbsp. sugar. Divide into glasses, add ice, top with seltzer and stir. Garnish with fresh lime wedges.

    Tasting notes:
    “Crisp and refreshing.”
    “Fuzzy and minty, but too bitter for sweeties like me.”

    Score: 6

  • Dreamsicle

    Ingredients:
    Fresh orange juice
    Cream soda
    Vanilla syrup (like the kind you get at Starbucks)
    Vanilla ice cream

    Add a shot of vanilla syrup and a splash of OJ to glasses containing the cream soda; stir. Finish with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream in each.

    Tasting notes:
    “Liquid dessert—nuclear option.”
    “So good! It’s a little bit like a milkshake, but I love the carbonation.”

    Score: 7.4

  • Ginger-jalapeno mocktail

    Ingredients:
    Fresh ginger
    Jalapenos
    Morris Kitchen ginger syrup
    Seltzer
    Limes

    Muddle together one sliver each of jalapeno and fresh ginger (or more, for an even spicier drink). Divide into glasses and add ice and a shot of ginger syrup to each. Top with seltzer, stir, and garnish with lime and the butt-end of a jalapeno.

    Tasting notes:
    “A satisfying kick to the back of the tongue.”
    “I could drink this all night long. My mouth is on fire, but I like that.”

    Score: 8.2

  • Hot apple pie

    Ingredients:
    Apple cider
    Caramel syrup (like the kind you get at Starbucks)
    Whipped cream
    Cinnamon

    Heat the apple cider, divide into mugs and pour a shot of caramel syrup into each. Top with whipped cream and a sprinkling of cinnamon.

    Tasting notes:
    “DELICIOUS. I could drink 100 of these.”
    “Tastes like candy in a cup.”

    Score: 8.5

  • New England buck

    Ingredients:
    4 oz. apple cider
    1 oz. sage and juniper syrup (see below)
    1 oz. fresh lemon juice
    Ginger beer

    Sage and juniper syrup
    1 cup sugar
    1 cup water
    5 fresh sage leaves
    10 juniper berries

    To make the syrup: Combine the sugar, water, sage and juniper berries in a saucepan. Heat until the sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally, and let sit 10 minutes before straining into a glass container. Keep refrigerated for up to a month.

    To make the drinks: In a cocktail shaker, combine the cider, syrup, lemon juice and ice, and shake briefly. Strain into four ice-filled glasses and top with ginger beer; stir.

    Tasting notes:
    “Da bomb! Manifold and manly—like its name.”
    “At last—a mocktail for adults: subtle, questioning and complex.”

    Score: 8.6

    Many thanks to sober bartender Janelle Best for mixing the drinks, and to her boss Felice Kirby, owner of Teddy's Bar and Grill in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, who helped Janelle brainstorm a few of these recipes. And thanks to writer Sue Smith for the billboard photo for this story.

    Hunter R. Slaton is the Rehab Review editor for The Fix.

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By Hunter R. Slaton 12/12/12

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