Want to have new options for great summer mocktails? Me too. I like to focus on flavor - bitter mixed with sweet, saline mixed with fruity, refreshing vs. cloying. I'll always prefer a mocktail that is just as good being "its own thing" rather than a sad sidekick to the boozy "real thing". So here are a few of my current favorites: no sugar, just fruit or maple-sweetened and good balance of sweet, bitter, saline, and herbaceous.
Want to make your own? Combine flavors like complimentary colors, not quite opposites but side-by-sides. You'll get a nice balance and easy-drinking. Take bitters out of the liquor cabinet and use them for extra depth and complexity without extra sugar. And I'll always recommend a plain mineral water over flavored, so that you get a nice clean palette for building your drinks. Have fun!
4 ounces unsweetened pineapple juice
4 ounces unsweetened coconut water
sprig of mint
Pour over ice in a glass, garnish with mint and finish with a squeeze of lime. Quadruple the recipe in a pitcher and chill with several mint sprigs, then pour over ice to serve and garnish with mint.
4 ounces apple juice sweetened lemonade (no sugar)
Plain mineral water or seltzer
Basil or spearmint leaves
Muddle a few basil or spearmint leaves in the bottom of two glasses. Add ice, two ounces of lemonade and fill the glass with bubbly water to serve.
Hibiscus-Berry Iced Tea
2 tablespoons dried hibiscus petals
1/4 cup fresh raspberries
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons maple syrup
2 lemon slices
Boil 2 cups water and pour over dried hibiscus petals in a quart jar. Let steep for one hour. Strain, discard petals and let cool to room temperature or chill.
To serve, divide the raspberries between two tall glasses and smash with a muddler or the back of a spoon. Add 1 teaspoon vinegar and 1 teaspoon maple syrup to each glass and stir to combine. Add ice to the glass and then fill to the top with hibiscus tea. Stir to combine and serve with a lemon slice garnish. Double or quadruple the hibiscus tea for making more in a flash.
8 ounces brewed black tea (I especially love a lavender Earl Grey for this), chilled
2 ounces raw apple cider vinegar
1/2 ounce maple syrup (less than 1 tablespoon, but adjust to your taste. Can omit or use stevia instead.)
Stir and pour over ice.
Plain mineral water
About 1/2 teaspoon Angostura bitters
1 teaspoon maple syrup
Fill a 12 ounce glass with ice, then add the mineral water, bitters and maple syrup. Carefully stir and sip away...ahhhhh. Make this into a cherry cola by smashing a few bing or sour cherries in the bottom of the glass before pouring and stirring.