The countdown begins. A chorus of revelers shouts, “five, four, three, two, one, HAPPY NEW YEAR!” Hugs all around. A few smooches. Lots and lots of alcohol after that, up until the first dawn of a new year. It’s all really fun … until the next morning.“Why wait until the groggy fog of a hangover on January first to start your New Year’s resolutions? New Year’s Eve mocktails provide the opportunity to slide into 2019 a step ahead of the game,” says Natalie “The Liquid Muse” Bovis, a renown mixologist and author of Preggatinis™: Mixology For The Mom-To-Be and Edible Cocktails: From Garden to Glass – Seasonal Cocktails with a Fresh Twist.
Cocktails generally contain at least one type of hard liquor (or sometimes wine), something sweet (simple syrup or fruit juice), bitters and a splash of soda or water, often served chilled or over ice. Mocktails are exactly that—sophisticated, delicious beverages—but made without alcohol. When you’re planning your holiday beverage menu, always include something festive for nondrinkers, because you’re not going to score too many hosting points if your only other options are water and sparkling water.
“Using color and flavor to punctuate a holiday is easy with both cocktails and mocktails. Think about ingredients used in your meal or flavors that will complement your party’s menu to point you in the right direction—seasonal favorites such as cranberry, pomegranate, orange, clove, cinnamon, pumpkin, nuts and cream,” Bovis says.
Some other basic ingredients to have on hand include:
● Fruit for garnish and muddling, especially citrus and berries
● Fruit juices
● Sparkling and flat water
● Soda and tonic water
● Nonalcoholic wines
● Herbs and spices: Try rosemary, sage, mint, basil, cardamom, cayenne, nutmeg and star anise for some unexpected flavor enhancements
● Simple syrup, grenadine and coffee syrup
● Bitters: These botanical add-ins usually contain a trace amount of flavorless alcohol used in the preparation, but to go technically, truly booze-free, you can use bitters from Only Bitters.
You’ll also want to take a tool inventory, and make sure to have the following on hand:
● A cocktail shaker
● A fruit press for juicing citrus and a zester for using the outer layer of the peels
● A strainer that fits snugly over the shaker or another glass to separate liquids from ice or other solids
● A zester (you already mentioned zester above)
● A muddler to pulverize fruit, herbs and other ingredients at the bottom of a glass
● Funnels and pour spouts
It’s tempting to go all-out on the sweetness because you’re not using a spirit such as gin or whisky to cut the sugary stuff, but restrain yourself. “Another important tip is keeping drinks balanced. Extra sweetness can be added, but if a drink is too sweet from the get-go, it’s pretty much ruined. Think fresh juices and good quality, complementary ingredients, and it’s hard to go wrong,” Bovis says.
Making Your Mocktails
While it’s fun to create your own, here’s a couple mocktails for inspiration that Bovis shares from her book Preggatinis, to help ring in the New Year:
The Sparkling Pomegranate
2 ounces pomegranate juice
½ ounce fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon simple syrup
Combine ingredients. Top with a splash of nonalcoholic sparkling wine (Bovis uses Fre), but club soda or ginger ale can work too. Gently pour into a sugar-rimmed champagne flute.
Pumpkin Pie Preggatini
2 graham crackers
1 ounce Fee Brothers Spiced Cordial Syrup (or 1 ounce maple syrup)
2 ounces milk (or coconut milk)
¾ ounce sweetened condensed milk
1 heaping tablespoon canned pumpkin
Dollop of whipped cream for garnish
Step 1, Rim the Glass: Finely grind graham crackers in a food processor. Pour onto a small plate. On a separate plate, pour a small amount of spiced syrup. Dip the rim of a martini glass into the syrup and then into the graham crackers, and set aside.
Step 2, Make the Drink: Vigorously shake the milk, sweetened condensed milk, remaining syrup and pumpkin in a mixing glass with ice. Slowly strain into the rimmed glass. Top with dollop of whipped cream.