15 Summer Mocktails To Elevate Your BBQ

With the days getting longer and the weather getting hotter, it's time for al fresco cooking! In the past, summer BBQs have meant frosty bottles of beer, chilled hard seltzers, or fruity boozy cocktails. However, the trend of dry January is starting to spread into dry June (and July, and August ... ). Whether you're cutting alcohol out of your social diet for health reasons or because you want to make a change, your backyard BBQs don't have to miss a beat just because it's missing booze! The mocktail revolution is in full swing now more than ever. There are so many different options that you can serve at your summertime cookout, your guests won't even notice the absence of alcohol.

Let's face it, cookouts can start early in the afternoon and stretch into the evening with burgers and hot dogs giving way to s'mores and ice cream. Don't let a mid-day hangover spoil the flow. By including these mocktails in your BBQ menu, you'll keep yourself and your guests hydrated and feeling fabulous until it's time to wrap up in blankets and count the shooting stars.

1. Botanical lemonades

Lemonade is the classic summer picnic beverage. The zingy tang of the lemon, perfectly sweetened, truly encapsulates the bright joy of summer. When it comes to constructing a brilliant mocktail, lemonade is a perfect base to build on. You can use many different ingredients to elevate lemonade, from fresh berries to herbal syrups.

Botanical flavors are incredibly popular, from the savory herbaceousness of rosemary to the floral perfume of lavender. Lemon is one of those flavors that pair nicely with lots of different flavors, so when you're experimenting with your lemonade, you really have your whole kitchen AND garden to play with. Marrying your lemonade mocktail to the meal that you're making on the grill is a great way to stretch your flavor wings. A few muddled sage leaves and a fresh sprig of thyme in your lemonade compliments anything from steak tips to burgers. Similarly, a splash of elderflower syrup brings out the summery floral notes that you find in many high-end cocktails.

2. Watermelon-chamomile mocktail

Speaking of botanical, chamomile is a flavor you often find in calming teas. It has a sweet, mild flavor that has fruity notes of apple and honey. You can find dried chamomile at most health stores and it can be made into a gorgeous herbal simple syrup that can be blended into summery mocktails as a lifting flavor. Pairing chamomile syrup with refreshing watermelon juice is an instant win for a hot day drink. Splash some soda water on top and garnish with a fresh strawberry, and you have a drink that will win over every guest at your picnic.

Watermelon juice, with its gentle flavor (worlds apart from the artificial melon flavors you find in sports drinks and pucker mixes) and playful pink color, is a beautiful, light base for a mocktail. Adding some carbonation and a twist of citrus brings that fizzy, tangy elevation that makes a regular juice drink into a true mocktail.

3. Tea spritzers

Like lemonade, iced tea is another summertime staple, often seen in big pitchers with slices of lemon floating on top. But iced tea goes beyond the amber-hued beverage we all know and love. Surprisingly, tea is an excellent non-alcoholic substitute in a wine spritzer. The earthy flavor of tea shares characteristics with wine, meaning that you can brew a pitcher of tea and use it as a base for gorgeous mocktails. The tannins in the tea will tickle all the same taste sensations that wine usually brings to the table.

Different varieties of tea can yield a delightful variety of spritzer flavors, all you need to do is brew your iced tea, then mix it with soda water, fruit, and a splash of simple syrup and you'll be sipping pretty. Herbal and botanical teas, like spearmint and hibiscus, pair nicely with fresh summer fruits like blueberries, watermelon, and cherries. You can muddle a blend of fresh fruits and freshly picked herbs (basil, rosemary, mint) in the bottom of your glass, top it with tea and sparkling water, and suddenly you're experiencing iced tea on a whole new level.

4. Turmeric mocktails

Well known for its anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric is an ingredient that people tend to include in a lot of their winter teas and smoothies. But summer colds (possibly the worst type of cold) can sneak up on you, so why not keep your health ahead of the game by making a variety of turmeric mocktails? Sunny in color and a touch bitter in flavor, turmeric is a great component in your zero-proof mixology line-up. Whether you opt to use fresh turmeric or a spoonful of powder, you can expect vibrant hues and earthy flavors which pair nicely with an array of other juices and teas to be served on ice in a tall glass!

Try a ginger and turmeric mocktail with a slight kick of powdered cayenne as a garnish. It's got the same energy as a spicy margarita without the tequila crash. You can also go more tropical, adding turmeric, coconut milk, lime, and ice to a blender to make a frozen daiquiri-style drink that is totally tiny-umbrella-worthy.

5. Classic Shirley Temple

How long has it been since you last had a Shirley Temple? With its bobbing candy-red maraschino cherry and a wheel of orange hugging the rim, the drink was the ultimate in making your eight-year-old self feel like a sophisticated grown-up. Why not bring that nostalgia back? You probably have all the ingredients you need already in your bar: grenadine, ginger ale, cherries. It's that easy! And now, with your grown-up pallet, you actually can let Shirley Temple breathe a little and let her curls down. Why not add a few dashes of bitters to give your mocktail that adult edge without the booze?

You can also experiment with making your own homemade grenadine with fresh pomegranate to really bring the experience of a true craft mocktail to your next BBQ. Or you could get extra fancy and use blood oranges and Luxardo cherries as your garnishes for a total Shirley Temple glow-up. Sipping out of a tall glass on a hot day, you'll feel just as grown up as you did the first time you had one.

6. Zero-proof Campari

Campari is an instantly-recognizable liquor with its deep red color and bitter flavor. It's an ingredient in some of the most popular and classic bar cocktails, like the Negroni and the Campari spritz. It's a delightfully vintage spirit that lends unique flavors to any cocktail. So why not capture that essence in a zero-proof rendition?

You can replicate the botanical and bitter flavors of Campari without alcohol. To make a virgin Campari blend, all you need is dried hibiscus (or hibiscus tea) and dried orange peel (or zero-proof orange bitters). Steeping everything together will yield that floral-citrus blend that is the hallmark Campari flavor. You can then use this mocktail as a base in lots of zero-proof recipes. Mix it with some grapefruit juice, thyme, and soda water to really cash in on that bitter citrus. Or you could go a sweeter route and add it to some Polar Dry Orange soda for a colorful mocktail. You might find that this hibiscus and orange brew takes a permanent spot in your summer beverage rotation.

7. Virgin mojitos

Mojitos originated in Cuba, a refreshing rum punch cocktail that embraced trademark Cuban flavors of sugar cane, lime, and mint. They're a very easy-to-drink cocktail that can be customized with different fruit flavors. They're also incredibly easy to tweak into a mocktail while maintaining the spirit of the mojito.

A virgin mojito includes everything its boozy brother has, minus the white rum. The herbaceous flavor of mint, muddled with turbinado sugar, and lime, gets topped off with cold soda water. You can add fresh berries for an added sweet dimension, or you could swap out the lime for blood oranges or grapefruit if you wanted a different flavor of citrus. Because mojitos are so simple, you'll want to embrace that simplicity in your mocktail and not over-complicate what is a truly refreshing and delicious summer beverage.

8. Zero proof Mai Tai

Mai Tais are the most famous Tiki drink in the world. Tiki drinks have been seeing a renaissance as bartenders have started returning to their roots with fresh fruit juices and garnishes instead of relying on bottled mixes that added too much sugar and were a recipe for headaches. You can still embrace the Tiki spirit without the spirits by making a virgin mai tai.

Fresh orange juice, pineapple juice, and lime juice are your key players. Grenadine, spiced simple syrup (to mimic the omitted rum), and a dash of almond extract round out the subtle flavors of the Mai Tai. The beauty of this punch is that you can make up a large batch of it and put it out in a pitcher or a punch bowl with fresh chunks of pineapple and orange slices so that your guests can help themselves. It brings that retro Tiki party vibe to your cookout that immediately makes everyone smile.

9. Virgin piña colada

Blender drinks take a little bit of extra time, but boy are they a treat! Since almost everyone has a blender these days (because smoothies are life), why not put it to work making your BBQ even more special? Virgin piña coladas are frosty, creamy, and fun tropical bevvies that will make sure your guests keep their cool even on the hottest days.

There's just something truly summery about a slushy coconut drink. A blended, frozen piña colada uses cream of coconut and heavy cream along with pineapple juice and a twist of lime, and a ton of ice. It's the perfect marriage of a mocktail and an ice cream, refreshing when sipping through a straw with a garnish of fresh pineapple and orange to cut through the creaminess. We don't blame you if you let someone else man the grill and you take this sippable oasis off to lie on a pool float and dream of palm trees.

10. Moscow Mule mocktail

The most fun cocktails have their own barware. Iconic among them are the copper mugs that hold frosty, refreshing Moscow Mules. A blend of bracing ginger beer, lime, and vodka, it's a cinch to flip the mule into a mocktail. You can still drink it out of the copper mug, no worries there!

The signature flavor of a Moscow Mule is ginger beer, a stronger cousin of ginger ale. Though ginger is a warming flavor, when served in the chilly copper mug over a mountain of ice, you'll feel just how refreshing the vintage soda can be. Squeeze in some fresh lime and, for a summery fresh twist, muddle in some cucumber slices and fresh mint. The herby flavors of the cukes and mint will really transition this classic drink into the perfect summertime sipper.

11. Frozen margarita mocktail

Don't put your blender away yet! There are still fun frozen drinks to come! If you're looking for something that will pucker you up, you might want to make a pitcher of virgin margaritas. The dominating flavors in margaritas are lime and salt, then the unique flavor of tequila. You can replicate the unique profile of a margarita by using honey or agave and a splash of orange extract. Use a limeade mix along with fresh lime juice over your ice when you blend it.

Margaritas are a fun party drink that will bring a joyful vibe to your barbeque or pool party without leaving your guests with a headache later. Don't forget to rim the glasses with a fun salt blend and keep lots of fresh mint on hand to garnish. It'll be a real crowd-pleaser.

12. Cos-faux

"Sex and the City" brought Cosmo fever to the masses. Suddenly everyone was sipping on the pretty pink drink when they were pout on the town. Though Carrie and her crew are now relegated to guilty-pleasure binge-watching, the Cosmopolitan has withstood the test of time. This cocktail is an exceedingly simple one: vodka, triple sec, cranberry juice shaken with ice and served up with a slice of lime. It has all the elements of a great summer drink: the tartness of cranberry, the brightness of orange, and the pucker of lime.

A Cos-faux, or a Cos-mock, is an easy zero-proof answer to the pink drink that we all love. By dissolving marmalade with a few tablespoons of boiling water, you have yourself a perfect substitute for the triple sec. Since this recipe has no alcohol, you can serve yourself a larger portion than your typical cocktail glass. Fill a tall glass with ice and enjoy all the flavors of the nightlife but in the full light of day.

13. Juleps

A mainstay of the Kentucky Derby, the mint julep is a classic drink that blends bourbon, powdered sugar, and muddled mint. While you might not be at Suffolk Downs, you can still enjoy an alcohol-free version of the traditional cocktail. Make a pitcher of zero-proof juleps and tell your friends to wear their best hats to your party and you'll be a true Triple Crown winner.

While a traditional julep relies on bourbon as the most forward flavor, you can replace the booze with ginger ale, or soda water with a splash of maple syrup. Muddled mint adds an herbal note. But you don't have to keep it buttoned up and traditional. Try a different take on the mocktail with a pineapple mint julep, with the tangy tropical pineapple juice and a dash of lime juice.

14. Wine-free sangria

How tempting is sangria? Whether in a huge punch bowl or in a pitcher, the wine drink is always brimming with fruit and spices, making each glass look like a bounty of summer offerings. By mixing up a non-alcoholic version of this traditional Spanish punch, you can enjoy all the best aspects of sangria without the dreaded wine headache that always comes in its wake.

The most fun part of making a sangria mocktail is that once the base is made, you really can just go crazy on the fruits, herbs, and spices that you add in — toss in blueberries, raspberries, mint, basil, and cherries. Just about anything a summer orchard can yield has a home in a sangria bowl. invite your friends to contribute to the sangria bowl by having everyone bring one item of fruit to mix in!

15. Pineapple and dandelion mocktail

This last drink is more of a playful nod to summer. It takes a lot of aspects from mocktails that we've already mentioned on the list and combines them with the most simple symbol of summer: the dandelion. The pineapple turmeric mocktail with muddled dandelion greens touches on so many elements of the mocktails we have explored: the tropical tang of pineapple, the earthy smoothness of turmeric, and the bubbly sweetness in the grapefruit soda, all capped off with just a hint of fresh, green bitterness from muddled dandelion greens.

You'll probably have more than a few dandelions on your lawn this summer. So put their greens to good use by adding them to your salads or, in this case, utilizing their natural bitterness as a unique ingredient in your BBQ bevies.