Bar Cart Essentials For Low Or Non-Alcoholic Cocktails, According To An Expert

You may have noticed an uptick in recent years in alcohol-free or low-alcohol drink options at your favorite watering hole. While a cocktail with a good kick is great, we think the concept of offering designated drivers, non-drinkers, or those who simply want to sample multiple drinks in one sitting is brilliant. As the bar manager and national beverage director for the North American sector of Diageo, a global company that produces and distributes liquor, wine, beer, and low/non-alcoholic spirits, and recently launched DrinkiQ, Fernando Sousa knows all about the increasing move to mocktails.

Sousa's experience has made him hyper-aware of the kinds of drinks people are ordering and the growing number of requests for something low or nonexistent on the booze scale has taught him what ingredients are best to keep on hand. Among these staples are lots of fresh fruit purees and, believe it or not, teas.

According to Sousa, texture is part of what makes a drink memorable. Without fizzy prosecco, syrupy vodka, or tannic bourbon whiskey, a low- or non-alcohol drink can fall flat. He adds texture to his booze-free creations by offering a variety of fresh fruit purees. Some ideas to keep behind your bar might be mango, strawberry, and passion fruit puree. He also doesn't shy away from keeping various herbal and caffeinated teas around, which are great for adding tannins to beverages.

Cut down on the booze or use a non-alcoholic substitute

Sousa is also a fan of having Seedlip, a premium non-alcoholic spirit, behind the bar. Or, as he continues, "If you don't have a non-alcoholic alternative version of the liquor in your pantry, you can just use a half pour and use the same ingredients that the original recipe calls for."

Cocktails without alcohol are an open field for creativity. You'll be mixing and shaking juices and tonics that are not only delicious but much better for your brain and body than booze. Some ideas might be strongly brewed spice tea (like cinnamon, turmeric, or cardamom) with a squeeze of lemon juice, ginger syrup, and a splash of sparkling apple cider; passion fruit puree combined with lime juice, pineapple juice, a dash of sweetener, some mint leaves, and sparkling water; and watermelon puree with lime juice, chili powder, and basil leaves with lime seltzer on top and a salt rim on the glass. Play around with different herbs, spices, egg whites for frothy tops, and gourmet sodas, too.

For many, going out with friends to enjoy an occasional drink is as much (if not more) about the social experience as it is about the alcohol. Alcohol-free drink options cater to an even larger clientele and are a great reminder that everyone can enjoy the culture of going out for drinks and having a wonderful time.