Sunday, June 28, 2009

Musings on "Mocktails"

For many hosts, non-alcoholic drinks are typically an after thought at most parties. Perhaps there will be a bottle of sparkling water, maybe some soda, or a bottle of Martinelli's. While these options are perfectly fine, it's possible to create more interesting drinks with a little time and preparation. Designated drivers and teetotalers will appreciate it, as will those that prefer sophisticated beverages, but prefer to cut the alcohol after one or two drinks.

When making non-alcoholic "mocktails" it's important to emphasize the bitter or sour ingredients, to avoid something flat and sweet. Ingredients such as fresh citrus, tea (green or black), ginger, balsamic vinegar, white wine reductions, and commercial bitters (Angostura, Peychards, Fee Brothers, etc) can elevate the ordinary to extraordinary. While bitters typically include alcohol, the amount is virtually negligible if only using a few dashes.

The below two "mocktails" are refreshing for Summer. For those that abhor the thought of boozeless cocktails, both recipes work quite well with a splash of light rum.

Strawberry Balsamic Cooler

1 ounce aged Balsamic vinegar
3 large diced fresh strawberries
3 ounces chilled smoky Oolong tea
1/2 tbl spoon agave syrup, or 1/2 tsp Stevia extract
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Crushed ice
Sparkling water

Place diced strawberries into bowl with vinegar and marinate. Place strawberry mixture into a Collins glass. Add crushed ice and all remaining ingredients except for sparkling water. Make sure Oolong tea is a heavy brew. Stir with spoon. Top off with sparkling water, and lightly stir again. Garnish with a lemon wedge.

The Temperate Twizzle

4 ounces chilled concentrated green tea
2 tbl spoons white wine syrup (see below)
Juice of one fresh lime
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
1/2 tbl spoon agave syrup
2 crushed mint sprigs

Shake all together with high quality ice cubes/crushed ice. Strain into cocktail glass, and garnish with a lime twist. For concentrated tea, make a heavy brew by steeping for longer than normal. The ice cubes will add water to the mixture, providing the proper dilution.

White wine syrup: Reduce one bottle of sweet acidic wine in a saucer pan, which will cause the alcohol to vaporize. Un-oaked Sauvignon Blanc or Rieslings will be best. Simmer until liquid has a medium consistency. Drop small portion into ice water. If the liquid congeals, the reduction is complete. Store excess syrup in refrigerator for future use.

Note: Your host created the above drink, which is a variation of a tea cooler. A main difference is that this drink is designed to be served up in a cocktail glass.

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