Summer Mocktails

Summer Mocktails

Creative, simple, and refreshing drinks for the long, hot summer.

Sitting back in the summer heat with a cold drink can be one of the great pleasures in life. Many people opt for cocktails, but mocktails — drinks minus the alcohol — can be just as satisfying. Here are several of my favorite recipes, all made with wholesome, nutritious ingredients and surprisingly simple to whip up. (Note: For those who want to spike the mix, I’ve included alcohol recommendations.)

Just think of these concoctions as fancy alternatives to plain lemonade or iced tea. Then mix, pour, and raise a toast to summer!

Ginger Green Tea-Ni

The elegance of a martini meets the energizing effect of green tea. Use a mandoline or vegetable peeler to thinly shave the gingerroot for garnish.

Makes two drinks Serving glass: Martini

Makes two drinks
Serving glass: Martini

  • 6 oz. brewed green tea, chilled
  • 2 tbs. ginger syrup, chilled (see recipe below)
  • 1/2 cup crushed ice
  • 2 thin shavings of gingerroot or cleaned and trimmed lemongrass stalks
  • Shake the tea, syrup, and ice in a cocktail shaker, then strain into glasses. Garnish with a slice of ginger.
  • (Alcohol options: Vodka or gin)

Pink Grapefruit Margarita

For a classic presentation, salt the edge of your glasses by running a lime wedge around the rim and rolling in kosher salt.

Margarita

Makes two drinks
Serving glass: Margarita

  • 11/2 cups fresh pink grapefruit juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 cups ice
  • 1/4 cup Meyer lemon syrup or lime syrup
  • 2 grapefruit wedges for garnish
  • Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend until the ice is crushed. Pour into glasses and garnish with a grapefruit wedge.
  • (Alcohol options: Tequila or Cointreau)

Cucumber-Mint Infusion

This concoction is as refreshing as a spa drink and as fancy as a cocktail.

Cucumber-Mint-Infusion

Makes eight drinks
Serving glass: Highball
Supplies: 8 bamboo skewers

  • 1 English cucumber, shaved lengthwise into long strips (use a mandoline or a vegetable peeler)
  • 1 quart water
  • 1 tsp. sugar or a splash of fruit juice
  • 8 sprigs fresh mint (reserve tops for a garnish)
  • Crushed ice
  • 32 oz. carbonated water

Weave the cucumber strips onto bamboo skewers, and reserve as garnishes. Stir the water and sugar together in a pitcher, then add the remaining cucumber strips and the lower mint leaves. Allow the cucumber-mint water to infuse for at least an hour before serving. Pour the drink over crushed ice in a glass; fill halfway. Then top off with the carbonated water. Garnish with a cucumber skewer and a mint sprig.

(Alcohol options: Gin or vodka)

Coconut Mango Crush

If you’re feeling especially celebratory, serve this tropical drink in a tiki glass or with a paper-umbrella garnish.

Coconut-Mango-Crush

Makes two drinks
Serving glass: Highball or tiki glass

  • 1 cup crushed ice
  • 8 oz. coconut water, chilled
  • 6 oz. mango nectar
  • 4 oz. tonic water or carbonated water
  • 2 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 2 lime slices

Fill two highball glasses with crushed ice, and divide the coconut water, mango nectar, tonic, and lime juice between glasses. Garnish with a slice of lime.

(Alcohol option: Rum)

Sober Sangria

Sangria is a colorful and festive punch that’s traditionally made with red wine and brandy. This alcohol-free version is just as flavorful and perfect for people of all ages. Blood oranges are a great substitute for regular oranges.

Sober Sangria

Makes 10 drinks
Serving glass: Stemmed glass or lowball

  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup dried hibiscus flowers or hibiscus tea
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 cups 100 percent pomegranate juice
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1 lime, sliced
  • 1 green apple, cored and diced
  • 1 red apple, cored and diced
  • 1/2 cup red or green grapes, cut in half
  • 1 tsp. alcohol-free bitters (see recipe below)
  • Crushed ice
  • 4 cups carbonated water

Boil the water, and steep the hibiscus flowers and honey for 10 minutes. Strain and chill the tea. Mix the chilled tea, juice, fruits, and bitters together in a large pitcher, and allow the flavors to blend for at least an hour before serving. Pour sangria into glasses with crushed ice, leaving room to top off with the carbonated water.

(Alcohol options: Wine and brandy)

Virgin Bloody Mary

Perfect for brunch or even an afternoon snack, this drink of freshly juiced veggies is nourishing and satisfying.

Virgin Bloody Mary

Makes eight drinks
Serving glass: Highball

  • 10 Roma tomatoes
  • 1 head celery, 4 stalks reserved and cut in half lengthwise for garnish (use the inner stalks with leaves)
  • 1/2 bunch fresh parsley
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 large red beet
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 2 jalapeños, seeds removed
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 lime
  • 1 tbs. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. salt, or to taste
  • 8 pickle spears (or other pickled vegetables such as pickled beets, okra, or green beans)

Run the first 10 ingredients through a juicer and into a large pitcher. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce and salt. Pour into glasses and garnish with a reserved celery stalk and a pickle.

(Alcohol option: Vodka)

Thai Basil No-Jito

The traditional Cuban mojito is made with mint. Here, we add Thai basil to give it an exotic twist. (If you can’t find Thai basil, use regular basil; it’s a different flavor but still delicious.)

Thai-Basil-No-Jito

Makes one drink
Serving glass: Highball

  • 8 leaves fresh Thai basil
  • 8 leaves fresh mint
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • Crushed ice
  • 1/2 lime, cut in half
  • 8 oz. carbonated water
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, trimmed

Muddle the basil, mint, and sugar in a glass until the herbs are fragrant and mashed together. Add crushed ice to the glass, squeeze in the lime juice, and top with the carbonated water. Garnish with the lemongrass.

(Alcohol option: White rum)

Baby Bellini

The sparkling water in this recipe allows you to adjust the sweetness to suit your preference.

Baby-Bellini

Makes two drinks
Serving glass: Champagne flute

  • 2 oz. peach or apricot nectar, chilled
  • 5 to 8 oz. sparkling apple or pear juice, chilled
  • Sparkling water, to taste

Pour an ounce of peach or apricot nectar into each champagne flute, then top with sparkling juice and water, as desired.

(Alcohol options: Champagne, prosecco, or sparkling wine)

Lemongrass Cooler

Lovely on its own, this drink can also be used to flavor other cocktails, sparkling juices, or even wine.

Lemongrass-Cooler

Makes four drinks
Serving glass: Highball

  • 1 stalk lemongrass, coarsely chopped (plus 1 stalk, cut into quarters, for garnish)
  • 1 tbs. honey
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 cups sparkling water, chilled

Blend the chopped lemongrass, honey, and water in a blender until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve. Add the sparkling water, divide among four glasses over ice, and garnish with the reserved lemongrass.

(Alcohol options: Gin or vodka)

Ginger Pom Fizz

Like your drinks tart? Use 100 percent cranberry juice instead of the pomegranate juice.

Ginger-Pom-Fizz

Makes two drinks
Serving glass: Highball

  • 2 cups crushed ice
  • 4 oz. 100 percent pomegranate juice
  • 1 12-ounce bottle ginger beer (or ginger ale)
  • Alcohol-free bitters (see recipe below)
  • Lime wedges

Divide the ice and pomegranate juice equally between two glasses. Top with ginger beer, a dash of bitters, and a lime-wedge garnish.

(Alcohol options: Gin or vodka)

Pomegranate Lime-Tini

Conventional martinis are elegant, but all alcohol. This booze-free version is refreshing and packed with plenty of antioxidants.

Pomegranate-Lime-Tini

Makes two drinks
Serving glass: Martini

  • 8 oz. 100 percent pomegranate juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
  • 2 tbs. ginger syrup (see recipe below)
  • 2 ice cubes
  • 2 lime twists
  • 1 tsp. pomegranate seeds, optional

Shake the first four ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Strain into glasses and garnish with the lime twists and pomegranate seeds.

(Alcohol option: Vodka)

Cranberry Blood-Orange Negroni

For variety, try adding a few crushed juniper berries.

Cranberry-Blood-Orange-Negroni

Makes two drinks
Serving glass: Lowball or stemmed glass

  • 1 cup crushed ice
  • 4 oz. fresh blood-orange juice (about 2 blood oranges)
  • 2 oz. Bitters Tea, chilled (see recipe below)
  • 1 slice blood orange, cut in half, for garnish

Divide the crushed ice between two glasses. Mix the juice and tea together, pour over the ice, and garnish each glass with a blood-orange slice.

(Alcohol options: Gin and Campari)

Sober Russian

Rich and creamy, this drink is a nice alternative to traditional Black or White Russians.

Sober Russian

Makes two drinks
Serving glass: Lowball

  • 4 ice cubes
  • 2 shots of espresso, about 1/2 cup, chilled
  • 2 to 4 tbs. maple syrup, depending on desired sweetness
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk or half-and-half

Put two ice cubes into each glass. Mix together the chilled espresso, maple syrup, and coconut milk, and pour over the ice.

(Alcohol option: Vodka)

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Campari-esque Bitters Tea

Use as you would for Campari for mocktails. 

Makes 1 cup

Makes 1 cup

  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 tbs. hibiscus tea
  • 1 tbs. honey
  • 1 tbs. dried horehound leaves
  • Zest of one blood orange

Pour boiling water over the ingredients, and infuse for 20 minutes. Strain and chill. Store in the refrigerator. Use within one week. (You may also freeze in an ice-cube tray to use later as needed.)

All recipes were created by Betsy Nelson (a.k.a. “That Food Girl”), a Minneapolis-based food stylist and recipe developer.

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