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What Is a Mocktail?

Dry January has exploded in popularity over the last few years as more and more of us experiment with a sober lifestyle–at least for one month of the year!

Mocktails are an excellent way to stay on track, ensuring you don’t miss out on events and celebrations but still have a beautiful drink in hand to join in on social occasions.

Do mocktails have alcohol? Nope, none at all–they're just as sophisticated (and sometimes complex) as regular cocktails but without the alcohol or fuzzy head affect the following day.


How to Make Modern Mocktails

Although the term ‘mocktail’ is pretty new, they’ve actually been around for decades, previously called virgin cocktails. Drinks like a Shirly Temple (ginger ale and grenadine) have been served for generations, normally served in a fancy presented in a slimline cocktail glass or tumbler, with plenty of ice, sugar, and garnishes.

The issue with these original mocktails is that, although they’re alcohol-free, they’re also not the best options if you’re trying to improve your overall health.

Sodas, fruit juices, sugar, and salt add a surprising number of calories and carbs to your daily intake, with rimming sugar or salt often added in spades to make a mocktail taste zestier.

We recommend Skinny Mixes syrups as a brilliant alternative, with zero sugar or calories and a range of incredible flavors that replicate classic cocktails or taste something fresh and original.

Interested in a unique mocktail with the same depth of flavor and texture as a fully alcoholic cocktailtipple? The devil is in the details– think delicate herb garnishes, twists of citrus fruit rind, and a deep red wine glass to serve.


Do Virgin Cocktails Contain Alcohol?

For all intents and purposes, a traditional virgin cocktail is the same as a mocktail, but some bars and servers interpret this as including any drink with an ABV of under 0.5%.

The same applies to alcohol-free spirits and wines you might find in a store. If you check the label carefully, you may find that some are low-alcohol rather than alcohol-free because they have a far smaller concentration than a normal spirit.

If you need to cut out alcohol completely, are completing a Dry January challenge, or have a condition or intolerance that doesn’t agree with alcohol, we’d advise you to make mocktails at home so you have total control over the ingredients you use.


What Equipment Do I Need to Make Mocktails at Home?

Mocktails are more intricate than soft drinks and are prepared the same way as a cocktail. If you've ever hosted a dinner party, you'll likely already have all the kit you need!

Here’s a quick shopping list of everything you might require (although not every recipe involves each of these items!):

  • A good quality cocktail shaker for mixing ingredients and chilling your drink with ice
  • A strainer to remove pips, foam, and any other larger chunks from your prepared mocktail
  • A long, thin bar spoon to stir right down to the bottom of the glass
  • Measuring cups (known as jiggers in the bar trade) to measure each liquid ingredient you need for your recipe
  • A muddler, which is a thin flat spoon you use to extract maximum flavor from fruits such as citrus–you can also swap this for the back of a spoon
  • A juice press to get all the juice out of lemons, oranges, and limes–citrus features in lots of mocktails as the acidity replicates the feel of a cocktail
  • A peeler to remove the peel from fruits as an elegant garnish–pro tip: have a book of matches or a lighter to hand, and lightly 'roast' the peel, as this makes the flavor richer, deeper, and smoky, adding another layer of complexity and texture to your mocktail

The joy of a mocktail is that it looks and tastes as rich, decadent, and luxurious as any alcoholic drink. Still, it can be healthier if you steer clear of the sugar-laden juices and sodas we discussed earlier.

Some mocktails are healthier than others, and ingredients such as basil, mint, and ginger are a great way to expand your repertoire and create new, custom mocktail blends that pack a huge amount of flavor!