Even though they’ve been around forever, alcohol-free cocktails, more familiarly known as “mocktails’’ have increased in popularity over the last few years. For most of my mid 20’s, I didn’t see a desire to cut alcohol from my diet and assumed that making a mocktail was equivalent to how I would mix my two juice boxes together during elementary school lunch. It wasn’t until about a year ago when I started to lean into the mocktail idea.

My desire to jump on this boat was inspired by the endless recipes I was finding online and fueled by the fact that I was saving a significant amount of money, and that I wasn’t getting dizzy, sick, nor spending the entire day in bed the day after imbibing. I typically enjoy mocktails on weeknights, because I still get to have the treat of enjoying a drink after dinner but then I also sleep well and wake up feeling rested in the morning.

Mocktails encompass the elegance of craft cocktails in their non-alcoholic form. With cocktails the goal is to create a flavor profile of the spirit that’s being used, whereas with a spirit-free cocktail, you can create this using a variety of techniques. Muddling, for example, is when you lightly mash fruits, herbs, and seasonings, to create a base flavor profile in the cocktail.

I personally love muddling fruits with a complimentary herb – the variations are endless – mint and melon, thyme and cherry, cilantro and citrus, basil, and peaches. The mashing of the two together physically releases the oils from the herb, thus creating a fragrant, fruity base for your drink.

A squirt of citrus juice, a dash of bitters, some sliced cucumbers, and/or a sprig of fresh herbs are all going to give your drinker a well-rounded experience.

You can also get pretty creative with what you’re making (or imitating) by using unique ingredients. A lot of mocktails stray from the familiar fruit base, and sway on the savory side. If you’re imitating a dirty martini, you’ll be called to use ingredients like starchy potato water and olive brine. In my recipe for the Virgin Bloody Mary, I use steak sauce, Worcestershire, and hot sauces, as well as pickle juice, olive brine and lemon juice, to create a unique flavor combination that isn’t missing the spirit! In addition to ingredients and techniques, how you garnish your alcohol-free drink is a game changer.

This Bloody Mary Mocktail, made with Pure Flavor® RedRoyals® Sweet Cherry Tomatoes On-the-Vine, was the perfect way to explore the savory world of mocktails. I found myself being able to get even more comfortable with the balance of ingredients I was using, and because there are so many ways to make Bloody Mary’s, any flavor preference could be accommodated for.

Overall, I truly do think that experimenting with non-alcoholic cocktails and learning how to make some can be great to have in your toolkit. You’ll directly cut down on alcohol consumption, which has health benefits of its own, without sacrificing the flavor and fun that comes with enjoying a fancy beverage. I encourage anybody who’s wanting to get into the craft of mocktail making, to treat it as though it’s just as legitimate as cocktail art. Buy yourself a nice shaker, ice molds, fancy rock glasses and some herbs or edible flowers for garnish. When you’re ready to start mixing, start with a few key ingredients and taste as you go. Garnish appropriately and enjoy!

~ Caeli-Rose