Non-Alcoholic Cocktail Recipes As Sophisticated as the Real Thing

I have a confession to make: sometimes, I don’t feel like drinking. When that happens, it’s usually because I want to wake up early the next day and be productive or tackle a daunting workout. In fact, I am most likely to curb my alcohol intake when I am training for a marathon. Other times, I simply want to moderate my drinking for general health reasons. No one really needs more than two servings in a single session, right…?

And then I have friends who avoid drinking entirely because of medical conditions like autoimmune disease. Others I know eschew drinking because they’ve realized that their relationship with alcohol is problematic. 

I know my network is not alone in our choices. The millennial-driven wellness trend means more and more people are taking stock of their lifestyle and limiting or avoiding alcohol as a result. But that doesn’t mean we don’t want to be social, and drinking is a big part of sociability. The ritual of sharing conversation over a cocktail, whether at a bar or in a home, is ingrained cultural behavior. 

Luckily, bars and restaurants across the country have begun to accommodate the needs of temperate and teetotaling guests with thoughtfully designed non-alcoholic drink menus that offer sophisticated alternatives to puerile, saccharine standbys like the Shirley Temple. In many of these instances, the “virgin” drinks are as good and interesting as their boozy counterparts.

Delivering that sort of quality and complexity without any alcohol to hide behind requires the right ingredients. Flavorful house made components like fruit shrubs, kombucha, tonic concentrates, and syrups are usually part of the equation. In some cases, so are alcohol-free distilled spirits. Yes, you read that correctly.

At such exalted places as Eleven Madison Park in New York City and The French Laundry in Yountville, California, bartenders concerned with providing abstinent guests the same elevated experience as cocktail drinkers have been known to reach for bottles of Seedlip–a line of  liquor alternatives made by first macerating herbs, vegetables, and other botanicals in neutral spirits and then boiling off all of the alcohol to produce a  “soft” distillation. The results of that six-week process–Seedlip Garden 108 and Seedlip Spice 94–are akin to gin, minus the alcohol.

Seedlip is made in the UK and only recently has it become widely available in the United States. Now, you can have it at home for those nights (and days) when you want to enjoy a sophisticated drink without any of the buzz. Below are a few recipes (courtesy of Seedlip) to get you started. 


seedlip cocktail

The Beatrix Potter / Courtesy of Seedlip

The Beatrix Potter

Yield: 1 cocktail

Ingredients
50 ml Seedlip Garden 108
20 ml sugar snap shrub (see note)
Club soda

Glassware
Highball

Tools
European cocktail jigger or digital scale with milliliter setting
Bar spoon

Directions

Add Seedlip Garden and sugar snap shrub to a highball glass over ice. Top with club soda to fill then give everything a light, quick stir. Garnish with a carrot ribbon. 

To make sugar snap shrub: Finely slice 250 grams (about 1 cup) of fresh sugar snap peas. Add all the bits and pieces to a large jar or container along with 1 cup of apple cider vinegar and 1 cup of white sugar. Muddle everything together and let them sit for 8 hours or overnight. When the proper time has lapsed, filter out the solids using a fine mesh strainer and/or cheesecloth. Store unused shrub in the refrigerator. 


seedlip gingerSpice & Ginger Ale

Yield: 1 cocktail

Ingredients
50 ml Seedlip Spice 94
125 ml Ginger Ale

Glassware
Rocks

Tools
European cocktail jigger or digital scale with milliliter setting
Bar spoon

Directions
Add Seedlip Spice and ginger ale to a rocks glass filled with ice. Give everything a light quick stir then garnish with an orange wheel.


seedlip sour cocktailGarden Sour

Yield: 1 cocktail

Ingredients
50ml Seedlip Garden 108
35 ml fresh, cloudy apple juice or good quality cider
15 ml lemon juice
5 ml apple cider vinegar
1 egg white
Sprig each of fresh rosemary and thyme

Glassware
Fizz, coupe, or martini

Tools
European cocktail jigger or digital scale with milliliter setting
Cocktail shaker
Strainer

Directions
Add all ingredients, including fresh herbs, to a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice and shake to chill and dilute until the outside of the shaker frosts. Strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with fresh rosemary needles.


seedlip spice cocktail recipePennsylvania Dutch

Yield: 1 cocktail

Ingredients
60 ml Seedlip Spice 94
20 ml raspberry shrub (see note)
Garnish: Lemon Twist

Glassware
Fizz, coupe, or martini

Tools
European cocktail jigger or digital scale with milliliter setting
Cocktail shaker
Strainer

Directions
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice and shake to chill and dilute until the outside of the shaker frosts. Strain into a chilled coupe, fizz, or martini glass (i.e., something with a stem).Garnish with a lemon twist.

To make raspberry shrub: Add 1 quart of fresh raspberries, 1 cup of apple cider vinegar, and 1 cup of white sugar to a jar or other large container. Muddle everything together and then let the ngredients sit for 8 hours or overnight. After the appropriate time has lapsed, filter out the solids using a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth. Store unused shrub in the refrigerator.


pea martiniPeaTini

Yield: 1 cocktail

Ingredients
60 ml Seedlip Garden 108
25 ml pea shrub (see recipe note below)
5 ml agave

Glassware
Fizz, coupe, or martini 

Tools
European cocktail jigger or digital scale with milliliter and grams setting

Directions
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice and shake to chill and dilute until the outside of the shaker frosts. Strain into a chilled coupe, fizz, or martini glass (i.e., something with a stem). Garnish with a single, twee fresh pea.

To make the pea shrub: Combine 200 grams of peas, 1 cup of apple cider vinegar, and 1 cup of white sugar in a large Mason jar or other container. Muddle the peas to mush them and leave everything to sit and infuse for 8 hours or overnight. When the proper time has lapsed, filter out the solids using a fine mesh strainer and/or cheesecloth. Store unused shrub in the refrigerator. 


switchelSeedlip Switchel

Yield: 1 cocktail

Ingredients
50 ml Seedlip Spice 94
25 ml pineapple & ginger shrub
Club soda to fill glass

Glassware
Highball

Tools
Bar spoon

Directions
Add Seedlip Spice, shrub, and soda to a highball glass filled with ice. Give everything a light quick stir then garnish with a grapefruit wedge.

To make pineapple & ginger shrub: Add the chopped fruit from a small pineapple to a large Mason jar or other container along with 1 ounce of ginger juice or 1 inch nub of finely sliced fresh ginger, 1 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup white sugar, and 1/2 cup molasses. Muddle everything together and leave the ingredients to sit and infuse for 8 hours or overnight. When the proper time has lapsed, filter out the solids using a fine mesh strainer and/or cheesecloth. Store unused shrub in the refrigerator. 

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