The idea of enjoying virgin cocktails and still having a good time is now becoming an undeniable trend amongst the foodies. More restaurants than ever before have no problem skipping the booze and making “cool”, creative non-alcoholic drinks using unique, organic and fresh ingredients. Travellers are also going along this trend. According to Booking.com, out of 50,000 global travellers, 61 per cent say they pick a destination based on its food and drink offerings. With over 27 million listings of apartments, hotels and other types of accommodations in 227 countries worldwide, Booking.com says food and drinks are leading factors when travellers book their property or when selecting destinations.
There is a definite rise of the health-conscious travellers opting for non-alcoholic drinks and alternatives. Top bartenders from some of the hottest bars in the United States like the Dead Rabbit in New York City say there is now an influx of non-alcohol drinkers and what used to be “uncool” for not having alcoholic drinks at bars and events is quickly turning into something trendy. We use to make excuses that it’s hard to stay healthy and fit when travelling, but now, there are no more excuses as a lot of restaurant establishments create a more fresh, healthy approach when crafting their drink menus.
When you see a restaurant or hotel that is heavy on fresh, local ingredients, it’s usually an indication that it is a great property to consider.
Bespoke Solutions is an international bar consulting firm based in New York City with award-winning mixologists specializing in “farm to bar” mixology. “ We’ve seen many more smoothies using organic, local ingredients and tea-based refreshers being offered” according to one of the owners of Bespoke Solutions, Devan van Eyck. They also see a lot more cocktail dilution with sodas and sparkling water and leaving out the spirit base. The bar consulting firm says the demand also challenges the creativity of the bartenders to craft an equally tasty, satisfying non-alcoholic beverage guests will enjoy. “ We make multiple variations of sarsaparilla which can do double duty as a stand-alone non-alcoholic soda. We also make our colas and other savoury and bitter agents to help substitute.”
Guilt-free drinking is possible without having to worry about hangovers, weight gain, unnecessary sugars and preservatives. As a restaurant professional, I see more restaurants creating more non-alcoholic drink offerings using organic, fresh ingredients because of the high demand. Say goodbye to the sugary Shirley temples and look for some of these ingredients when you browse a drink menu or make one yourself. Virgin cocktails aren’t what they used to be, they’re now so much more sophisticated.
Seedlip- It is the world’s first ever distilled non-alcoholic spirit. You will find this product used by Michelin restaurants all over the world, and now you can find them in the grocery aisle. There are two options you can choose from. One is called Garden and the other, Spice. Made from peas, hay, spearmint, rosemary and thyme, Garden is a great substitute to make a herbal, virgin cocktail. Spice is made from All Spice, cardamom, oak, lemon, grapefruit and cascarilla. Both are great non-alcoholic spirit base for some fun drinks. You can also find great recipe ideas on their website.
Fresh Pressed Organic Juices- These are great additions to any fun virgin cocktails you are trying to create. Fresh pressed juices are made of real fruits and vegetables, usually freshly picked direct from the farm and pressed right away. The juices are loaded with a multitude of vitamins and minerals to help boost the immune system and helps aid in digestion.
Kombucha-It is a sparkling fermented tea, and it gives that sparkling, refreshing feel and satisfaction that booze gives. It is a healthier alternative with a variety of fun flavours to choose from. They say kombucha a day will also keep the doctor away as it is a rich source of probiotics and antioxidants. It also helps bolster the immune system and even helps with weight loss.
Essential Oils- Comes from extracting the essence of a plant and it’s considered a natural remedy and effective treatment for a host of ailments and various conditions. The variety of different essential oil options all have incredible benefits that help encourage emotional and physical wellness. When adding essential oils to food and drinks, make sure that the product is certified food grade and intended for ingestion. Essential oils are a great addition to add extra fragrance and enhances the taste of any virgin cocktail creations.
Carbonated Drinks: Sparkling waters, sodas, tonics and other mixers like ginger beer make a great, healthy and refreshing alternative to alcoholic spirits. It is important however to always read the label carefully. Some of the sparkling drinks have very high sugar content and have added salt, caffeine or citric acid to help improve the taste.
Local fruits and vegetable ingredients-There’s nothing like using fresh, local, organic produce when making fun drinks. Utilize what’s in season and add fresh fruits or veggies you can find locally. These will give your mocktail the most natural, refreshing flavours that will surely satisfy your thirst. It also adds adds well to the overall presentation.
Here are some recipes you can try. Enjoy!
2oz of Seedlip Garden
1oz of pure cranberry juice
1 oz of Zen Orange Buddha cold pressed juice
Drop of Doterra essential lemon oil (optional)
Shake and garnish with edible flower or lime peel
3oz of Fever Tree ginger beer
2 oz of homemade strawberries and pineapple syrup
(Water, fresh strawberries and pineapples, brown sugar-simmer til syrup consistency and strain)
Drop of wildorange Doterra essential oil (optional)
Lots of ice garnish with chopped fresh fruits, micro basil and add fun straw
Blueberry Kombucha Cocktail
Infused Ice cubes- use big square ice cube tray and load with fresh fruits, micro mint or basil and add a drop of Doterra lavender essential oil. Freeze
Once ice is formed, put in a glass and add Blueberry Rise kombucha.
Cucumber Gin and Tonic Variation
4oz Perrier sparkling water
2oz of Seedlip Garden
Garnish glass with long slice of cucumber
Cristina Carpio is a television personality, brand and restaurant strategist as well as a passionate food and beverage expert. Travel and living life to the fullest is in her DNA. In addition to hosting Going Global, Cristina is a country ambassador for a global immersive dining platform and has a column for a noted North American food and beverage industry magazine. She has also been recognized for her work and involvement in charitable and community projects and has hosted several prestigious festivals, fashion and cultural events.