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a variety of glasses filled with colorful mocktails

Sitting back in the summer heat with a cold drink in hand can be one of the great pleasures in life. Many people opt for cocktails, but mocktails — drinks minus the alcohol — can be just as satisfying.

Here are several of my favorite recipes, all made with wholesome, nutritious ingredients and surprisingly simple to whip up. For those who want to spike the mix, I’ve included alcohol recommendations.

Just think of these concoctions as fancy alternatives to plain lemonade or iced tea. Then mix, pour, and raise a toast to summer!

Pink-Grapefruit Margarita

For a classic presentation, salt the edge of your glasses by running a lime wedge around the rim and rolling it in kosher salt.

a glass of pink grapefruit margarita

Makes 2 drinks | Serving glass Margarita

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh pink-grapefruit juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 cups ice
  • 1/4 cup Meyer lemon syrup or lime syrup
  • 2 grapefruit wedges for garnish

Directions

  1. Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend until the ice is crushed.
  2. Pour into glasses and garnish with a grapefruit wedge.

(Alcohol options: Tequila or Cointreau)

Ginger Green Tea-Ni

The elegance of a martini meets the energizing effect of green tea. Use a mandoline or vegetable peeler to thinly shave the gingerroot for garnish.

a glass of ginger green tea ni

Makes 2 drinks | Serving glass Martini

  • 3/4 cup brewed green tea, chilled
  • 2 tbs. ginger syrup, chilled (find recipe here)
  • 1/2 cup crushed ice
  • 2 thin shavings of gingerroot

Directions

  1. Shake the tea, syrup, and ice in a cocktail shaker, then strain into glasses.
  2. Garnish with a slice of ginger.

(Alcohol options: Vodka or gin)

Cucumber–Mint Infusion

This concoction is as refreshing as a spa drink and as fancy as a cocktail.

a glass of cucumber mint infusion

Makes 8 drink | Serving glass Highball

Supplies: 8 bamboo skewers

  • 1 English cucumber, shaved lengthwise into long strips (use a mandoline or a vegetable peeler)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tsp. sugar or a splash of fruit juice
  • 8 sprigs fresh mint (reserve tops for a garnish)
  • Crushed ice
  • 4 cups carbonated water

Directions

  1. Weave the cucumber strips onto bamboo skewers, and reserve as garnishes.
  2. Stir the water and sugar together in a pitcher, then add the remaining cucumber strips and the lower mint leaves.
  3. Allow the cucumber–mint water to infuse for at least an hour before serving.
  4. Strain the liquid and pour over crushed ice; fill halfway. Then top off with the carbonated water.
  5. Garnish with a cucumber skewer and a mint sprig.

(Alcohol options: Gin or vodka)

Coconut–Mango Crush

If you’re feeling especially celebratory, serve this tropical drink in a festive glass or with a paper-umbrella garnish.

a glass of coconut mango crush

Makes 2 drinks | Serving glass Highball or festive glassware

  • 1 cup crushed ice
  • 1 cup coconut water, chilled
  • 3/4 cup mango nectar
  • 1/2 cup tonic water or carbonated water
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 lime slices

Directions

  1. Fill two highball glasses with crushed ice, and divide the coconut water, mango nectar, tonic, and lime juice between glasses.
  2. Garnish with a slice of lime.

(Alcohol option: Rum)

Sober Sangria

Sangria is a colorful and festive punch that’s traditionally made with red wine and brandy. This alcohol-free version is just as flavorful, and it’s perfect for people of all ages. Blood oranges are a great substitute for regular oranges.

a glass of sober sangria

Makes 10 drinks | Serving glass Stemmed glass or lowball

  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup loose hibiscus tea or dried hibiscus flowers
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 cups 100 percent pomegranate juice
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1 lime, sliced
  • 1 green apple, cored and diced
  • 1 red apple, cored and diced
  • 1/2 cup red or green grapes, cut in half
  • 1 tsp. alcohol-free bitters (see recipe here or at the end of this article)
  • Crushed ice
  • 4 cups carbonated water

Directions

  1. Boil the water.
  2. Steep the hibiscus tea or flowers and honey for 10 minutes. Strain and chill the tea.
  3. Mix the chilled tea, juice, fruits, and bitters together in a large pitcher, and allow the flavors to blend for at least an hour before serving.
  4. Pour sangria into glasses with crushed ice, leaving room to top off with the carbonated water.

(Alcohol options: Wine and brandy)

Cranberry Blood-Orange Negroni

For variety, try adding a few crushed juniper berries.

a glass of cranberry blood orange negroni mocktail

Makes 2 drinks | Serving glass Lowball or stemmed glass

  • 1 cup crushed ice
  • 1/2 cup fresh blood-orange juice (about 2 blood oranges)
  • 1/4 cup Campari-esque Bitters Tea, chilled (see recipe here or at the end of this article)
  • 1 slice blood orange, cut in half, for garnish

Directions

  1. Divide the crushed ice between two glasses.
  2. Mix the juice and tea together, pour over the ice, and garnish each glass with a blood-orange slice.

(Alcohol options: Gin and Campari)

Thai Basil No-Jito

The traditional Cuban mojito is made with mint. Here, we add Thai basil to give it an herbaceous twist. (If you can’t find Thai basil, use regular basil; it’s a different flavor but still delicious.)

a glass of thai basil no jito

Makes 1 drink | Serving glass Highball

  • 8 leaves fresh Thai basil
  • 8 leaves fresh mint
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • Crushed ice
  • 1/2 lime, cut in half
  • 1 cup carbonated water
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, trimmed (optional)

Directions

  1. Muddle the basil, mint, and sugar in a glass until the herbs are fragrant and mashed together.
  2. Add crushed ice to the glass, squeeze in the lime juice, and top with the carbonated water.
  3. Garnish with the lemongrass, if desired.

(Alcohol option: White rum)

Baby Bellini

The sparkling water in this recipe allows you to adjust the sweetness to suit your preference.

a glass of baby bellini mocktail

Makes 2 drinks | Serving glass Champagne flute

  • 1/4 cup peach or apricot nectar, chilled
  • 1/2 to 1 cup sparkling apple or pear juice, chilled
  • Sparkling water, to taste

Directions

  1. Pour an ounce of peach or apricot nectar into each champagne flute, then top with sparkling juice and water, as desired.

(Alcohol options: Champagne, prosecco, or sparkling wine)

Ginger Pom Fizz

Like your drinks tart? Use 100 percent cranberry juice instead of the pomegranate juice.

a glass of ginger pom fizz

Makes 2 drinks | Serving glass Highball

  • 2 cups crushed ice
  • 1/2 cup 100 percent pomegranate juice
  • 1 12-oz. bottle ginger beer (or ginger ale)
  • Alcohol-free bitters (see recipe here or at the end of this article)
  • Lime wedges

Directions

  1. Divide the ice and pomegranate juice equally between two glasses.
  2. Top with ginger beer, a dash of bitters, and a lime-wedge garnish.

(Alcohol options: Gin or vodka)

Lemongrass Cooler

Lovely on its own, this drink can also be used to flavor other cocktails, sparkling juices, or even wine.

a glass of lemongrass cooler

Makes 4 drinks | Serving glass Highball

  • 1 stalk lemongrass, coarsely chopped (plus 1 stalk, cut lengthwise into quarters, for garnish)
  • 1 tbs. honey
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 cups sparkling water, chilled

Directions

  1. Blend the chopped lemongrass, honey, and water in a blender until smooth.
  2. Strain through a fine sieve.
  3. Add the sparkling water, divide among four glasses over ice, and garnish with the reserved lemongrass.

(Alcohol options: Gin or vodka)

Pomegranate Lime-Tini

Conventional martinis are elegant, but all alcohol. This booze-free version is refreshing and packed with plenty of antioxidants.

a glass of pomegranate limi tini

Makes 2 drinks | Serving glass Martini

  • 1 cup 100 percent pomegranate juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
  • 2 tbs. ginger syrup (see recipe here or at the end of this article)
  • 2 ice cubes
  • 2 lime twists
  • 1 tsp. pomegranate seeds (optional)

Directions

  1. Shake the first four ingredients in a cocktail shaker.
  2. Strain into glasses and garnish with the lime twists and
    pomegranate seeds.

(Alcohol option: Vodka)

WEBEXTRA

Bitters and Syrups

jars filled with colorful bitters and syrups

Campari-Esque Bitters Tea

Use as you would for Campari for mocktails. 

Makes 1 cup

  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 tbs. hibiscus tea
  • 1 tbs. honey
  • 1 tbs. dried horehound leaves
  • Zest of one blood orange

Directions

  1. Pour boiling water over the ingredients, and infuse for 20 minutes.
  2. Strain and chill. Store in the refrigerator. Use within one week. (You may also freeze in an ice-cube tray to use later as needed.)

Ginger Syrup

Makes 1/2 cup

  • 2 tbs. coarsely grated gingerroot
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup honey

Directions

  1. Simmer all the ingredients together for five minutes.
  2. Cool, and then strain out the gingerroot. Store in the refrigerator. Use within two weeks.

Simple Bitters

Bitters are traditionally made by infusing bitter herbs and other ingredients in alcohol, but you can make your own natural, nonalcoholic bitters in a pinch.

Makes 1 cup

  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 5 cloves
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • Zest of 1 orange or lemon
  • 1/2 tsp. fennel seed
  • 1 tsp. dried dandelion root or dandelion-root tea
  • 1 tbs. dried cherries or raisins

Directions

  1. Pour boiling water over the ingredients and infuse for about 30 minutes. Strain, and chill before using.
  2. Store in the refrigerator. Use within one week.

Raspberry Syrup

Makes about 1 cup

  • 1 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1/2 cup organic cane sugar or 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup water

Directions

  1. Simmer all the ingredients together for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the raspberries have released their juices.
  2. Cool, and then strain out the seeds. Store in the refrigerator. Use within two weeks.
Photography by: Andrea D’Agosto; Prop Styling: Alicia Buszczak; Food Stylist: Marian Cooper Cairns
Betsy
Betsy Nelson

Betsy Nelson (a.k.a. “That Food Girl”) is a Minneapolis-based recipe developer and food stylist.

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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Yes! Thank you soooooo much for these delicious-sounding recipes. I’m going on vacation with a sober friend and these will be perfectly refreshing for lazy afternoons on the lanai.

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