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3 non-alcoholic drinks to get you through Dry January

Whether you’re observing Dry January or reducing or eliminating alcohol, these drinks are a refreshing change of pace. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)
Whether you’re observing Dry January or reducing or eliminating alcohol, these drinks are a refreshing change of pace. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)

Zero proof. Mocktails. Non-A cocktails. Call it what you like; alcohol-free drinks are all the rage.  These days, it seems every time I open an email, a magazine, a newspaper, or a blog post, people are talking about, or writing about, their favorite non alcoholic drinks. It’s the trend de la trend. The January topic du jour.

According to a recent Gallup poll, Millennials and Generation Z drink less than older Americans, claiming lifestyle considerations and health concerns: “62% of adults under age 35 say they drink alcohol, down from 72% two decades ago.”

With the proliferation of nonalcoholic beer and wine, even tequila, vodka and other alcohol-free spirits, it’s easier than ever to enjoy a drink without alcohol.

Whether you’re observing Dry January or reducing or eliminating alcohol, these drinks are a refreshing change of pace. Many of the zero-proof drinks I see on restaurant and bar menus are highly complex — combining a long list of ingredients utilizing some esoteric and often expensive ingredients — or overly sweet. I decided to experiment with winter fruit to create three simple drink recipes that can be shaken, stirred or blended to make great winter drinks. Come to think of it, these drinks are ideal year-round. Come summer you can substitute stone fruit and berries for the winter citrus.

Citrus-ginger sour

Citrus-ginger sour. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)

The origin of this drink was to play with the flavor profile of a whiskey sour. But as I experimented, the drink veered closer to a citrus-ginger cocktail. Fresh lemon juice (lime works well also) is mixed with a ginger simple syrup,  frothed (or shaken in a cocktail mixer) and then topped with ginger beer and ice. It is thoroughly refreshing, slightly sour, and very appealing.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons ginger syrup, see recipe below
  • Ice cubes
  • About ½ cup ginger beer
  • Lemon or lime slice as garnish


Instructions

  1. In a cocktail shaker or medium-sized glass, shake or froth the lemon juice and ginger syrup until slightly foamy. You can use a cappuccino machine (the frother wand will froth it up in a matter of seconds or you can use an electric milk frother). Fill a glass with ice and then pour in the ginger beer. Top with the frothed lemon mixture. Add more ginger beer if the drink is too sour. Garnish with a slice of lemon.

Lime and mint NA ‘margarita’

Lime and mint NA ‘margarita.’ (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)

This refreshing drink has the overall flavor profile of a margarita, but is truly its own thing. Mint simple syrup is mixed with fresh lime juice, orange juice, seltzer or tonic, and ice. The rim of the glass is moistened in a combination of coarse sea salt and Tajin. (A Mexican spice mixture that is often sprinkled over tropical fruits, Tajin combines dried chiles, dehydrated lime and sea salt and is available in most grocery stores or online.) It adds a brilliant flavor to the drink with just a hint of spice.

Serves 1 to 2.

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 ½ tablespoon orange juice, preferably fresh-squeezed
  • 1 to 1 ½ tablespoons mint syrup (recipe below), depending on how sweet you like it
  • About  ½ cup seltzer or tonic
  • Ice Cubes


The Tajin flavor rim:

  • 1 teaspoon Tajin spice
  • ½ teaspoon coarse or fine sea salt


Instructions

  1. In a glass or a cocktail mixer combine the lime juice, orange juice and mint syrup.
  2. Place the tajin and salt on a small plate. Moisten the rim of two small cocktail glasses or one large glass into a little of the fruit juice or use your finger to moisten the glass rim and then dip the glass(es) into the spice mixture. Fill the glass with ice and add the fruit juices or divide between two glasses. Add the seltzer and taste. You may want to add another splash of seltzer. Serve cold.

Simple syrup (mint or ginger)

You can use any herb or flavoring you like to make this simple syrup. Think fresh leaves of tarragon, rosemary, basil, lemon verbena, ginger root or lemongrass. It’s a quick, easy recipe and I always like to have a double batch on hand to add to drinks. It will keep covered and refrigerated for several weeks.

Makes about 1 cup.

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ to ⅓ cup sugar, depending on how sweet you like it
  • 1 packed cup fresh mint leaves (or other herbs, see above) or ⅓ cup coarsely chopped fresh ginger or lemongrass


Instructions

  1. In a small to medium-sized pot bring the water to boil. Stir in the sugar, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the mint or ginger, remove from the heat and steep for one hour. Strain the syrup, discarding the mint leaves or ginger pieces, and store in a covered jar in the refrigerator for several weeks.

Mango-pineapple-coconut colada

Mango-pineapple-coconut colada. (Kathy Gunst/Here & Now)

This is a riff on a pina colada and can be as thick as a smoothie or thinner and more drink-like, as you please. Fresh mango and pineapple chunks are blended with coconut milk, coconut water, and ice. This drink would be ideal for breakfast, a quick pick-me-up, or non-A cocktail hour.

Serve a wedge of pineapple or a dried orange slice as garnish.

Serves 2 to 3.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fresh mango, cut into wedges
  • 1 cup fresh pineapple chunks
  • ½ cup coconut milk, whole fat or lite
  • ½ to 1 cup coconut water
  • About 2 tablespoons ginger syrup or mint syrup, see recipe above
  • About ½ to 1 cup ice cubes


Instructions

In a blender whirl the mango and pineapple. Add the coconut milk, ½ cup coconut water,  2 tablespoons ginger or mint syrup and ½ cup ice cubes and whirl until blended. Taste for sweetness and add more syrup if desired. If you want a thinner, less smoothie-like drink add the remaining ½ cup ice and coconut water and whirl. Serve ice cold garnished with wedges of pineapple or mango or a dried orange slice.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

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