If you're carrying a small human, it's not always appropriate (or doctor recommended!) to get wasted while dining out. Luckily for teetotalers, hospitality-minded operators throughout the country (and world, really) have expanded their beverage programs to offer sophisticated mock cocktail—or mocktail—programs.
Foraging father René Redzepi, of the presently shuttered Noma in Denmark, was one of the first chefs to offer a booze-free fruit-and-vegetable-juice pairing alongside his elaborate, locally flavored Nordic tasting menu, inspiring a slew of globally renowned chefs to rethink their own beverage offerings.
Juice pairing 2: apple / verbena / pine @ Noma, Copenhagen _ Juice of apples, fresh verbena and young douglas fir pine shoots. Refreshing with the distinct note of pine shoots that made it very spring "forest-y" _ #littlemeg_denmark #littlemeg_copenhagen #copenhagen #littlemeg_noma #noma #food #foodstagram #foodies #foodpics #instafood #instagood #jj #instagramers #yolo #followme #yummy #amazing #gourmet #iphonesia #picoftheday #photooftheday #bestoftheday #igdaily #lefooding @lefooding #eater @eater #theartofplating @theartofplating #gastronart @gastroart #gastronogram @gastronogram
Today, Sepia and Quay, two of Sydney, Australia's most esteemed fine dining haunts, serve elevated alt-alcohol pairings; a bamboo leaf and lemon balm tisane might commence a meal at Sepia, and the unsung combination of kombu and rose flavor a chilled mocktail at Quay.
In New York, Eleven Madison Park (now number one on the World's 50 Best Restaurants list) offers its own slate of booze-less drinks, designed by bar head Leo Robitschek to complement the 11-course tasting menu as either à la carte selections or as a full pairing. EMP's lineup of "soft cocktails" includes Paradise City, a sprightly combo of grapefruit, passion fruit, vanilla, cream and bubbly water.
But it's not only the white-tablecloth joints devising progressive mocktails. At Chicago's five-month-old Elske, chef and owner David Posey has worked with beverage director Kyle Davidson to scheme up a four-course nonalcoholic beverage pairing to accentuate his new American-Scandinavian tasting menu.
"We really like to look at the juices the same way that we look at the food, and feature seasonality, technique and balance," Posey explains. "For our final savory pairing, we juice beets and pomegranates, and steep them with mushrooms, pu-erh tea and salted cranberries, which really comes out much like a red wine."
Los Angeles's beachy California-Italian number, Love & Salt, has been offering mocktails since it opened two and a half years ago. With a bar program commanded by cocktail whiz Vincenzo Marianella, Love & Salt's mocktails, too, take an elevated approach. Case in point: the Grape White Hope, a cloudy, pale-green blend of white grapes, sage, elderflower, pear juice and club soda.
"When we started working on the bar program, we all agreed that we wanted to take our alcohol-free beverages as seriously as our cocktails for guests that prefer an alternative that still feels special," Love & Salt co-owner Sylvie Gabriele says. "The mocktails we serve change seasonally and are crafted to be well balanced and multidimensional."
Even in New Orleans, one of the country's cocktail capitals, bars and restaurants have found fresh approaches to booze-less drinks. Caribbean number Compère Lapin, tiki hub Latitude 29 and humble haunt Bar Tonique all proffer creative beverages sans a buzz. And if mocktails have made their way to the home of the OG Sazerac, well, you know it's a drinks trend that's probably here to stay.
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