(updated May 7, 2023)
Note, this blog post will be updated each time we add a new mocktail. Follow us on Instagram or Pinterest to get the latest mocktail recipe.
My favourite white wine is a good New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or a fine, crisp Sancerre. I admit that I do miss a nice glass of wine at the end of the day.
I had to stop drinking alcohol about 3 years ago because it sends my heart into atrial fibrillation. On top of that, I seem to have developed a yeast allergy which is a particular problem when it comes to wine and gin. Some wines give me massive headaches while others don’t. All gins, including non-alcoholic ones, give me massive headaches, which I attribute to the juniper (or possibly the yeast on the juniper).
If my husband is having a glass of red wine, I’ll take a sip of his. It reminds me of my younger, more tolerant days (sigh). Occasionally, I’ll play “wine roulette” and have a small glass of wine if we’re out with friends, but it will depend on what I have on the following day and if I can risk a massive migraine (the usual answer is ‘no’).
When I was in the throws of my night sweats days, a glass of heavy red wine would put me on a continuous night sweats cycle all night long. I didn’t clue in that my bad nights were related to the wine until I kept a night sweats journal. Once I avoided red wine, especially a heavy one, the night sweats decreased.
So, if I haven’t had enough messages sent to me that my body doesn’t like alcohol, there really isn’t any hope for me. The bottom line is Alcohol and I don’t get along!
The problem is that I really like that special drink at the end of the day. It helps my mental transition at the end of the day to evening when I allow yourself to de-stress a little, and I tend to equate that ritual, not only to the drink but equally to the type of glass it’s served in.
When I had to give up wine, I decided I needed a substitute if only so I could have it in a wine glass. This all sounds silly, I know. But it works for me. As long as I have a wine glass filled with something other than water or plain soda water, I am satisfied enough to feel relaxed.
When I was looking for that substitute, I naturally started with the de-alcoholized wine tour, testing almost every available brand at the grocery store. Most of it was horrific, even worse than grape juice. It was pretty depressing, at first. Eventually, I found a few that will do, especially when blended and added to to give them a less “grapey” taste. I also tend to like tonic-based beverages with lime or lemon because they aren’t that sweet.
Here are my requirements for a good mocktail:
- Not too sweet (no Shirley temples for me!)
- Has some “complexity” in its taste profile (herbs, bitters, spice)
- Ability to sip it slowly
- Not too expensive or difficult to prepare
What’s not in a good mocktail:
- A lot of sugar
- Artificial colours or flavours
- Hard to find or expensive ingredients
So, when cocktail hour comes along this is what I drink:
A non-alcoholic Aperol Spritz:
Aperol spritzes always remind me of summer. I first had one at The Rogers Cup (now called the National Bank Open). I admit that it took me a while to like the bitter and fluorescent orange drink. The only thing that cut the sweet and bitter drink was the alcohol in the prosecco. Now that I’m not drinking very often, I always look for substitute cocktails and fortunately, an Aperol Spritz is an easy one to replicate. There are three easy ways to replicate this drink:
- If you want super simple and convenient, it’s available pre-made in single serving sizes in cans. Spritzish and Opus both make them (among others). To me, they taste like a more complex Orange Crush, but I wouldn’t say I have the most sophisticated taste buds. I also dilute them with soda water which makes them last longer and cuts the sweetness.
- If you want to make your own and want to invest in N/A spirits, you can use a non-alcoholic “Italian aperitif” such as Lyre’s (note – I’ve never tasted it so I can’t comment on it) and combine it with N/A bubbly white wine, or prosecco, a few dashes of bitters and soda water. The original recipe calls for a 3-2-1 make up (3 parts Aperol substitute, 2 parts N/A sparkling wine, 1 part soda water). You can mix it whichever way you want so it tastes right for you. I prefer a 1-3-1 mix. Don’t forget to add a slice of orange and a sprig of thyme for colour!
- Another option is to make your own from scratch. It won’t have the bright orange colour, but you can use the ingredients for other drinks and recipes.
- A non-alcoholic Moscow Mule:
- A no-gin and tonic: ½ good tonic water, ½ soda water, a wedge of lime (Fever-tree makes some great tonics, including a low-sugar one)
- A non-alcoholic spritzer made with low-sugar de-alcoholized white wine, soda water and a generous lime or lemon slice– really, it’s the only way to stomach most non-alcoholic white wines
- Non-alcoholic mojito: 1-2 oz, lime juice, simple syrup to your liking, soda water, crushed, 2 tsp fresh mint over ice, preferably in a wine glass (you could add a splash of rum extract if you want to get really fancy)
Non-alcoholic vermouth and tonic: I'm not much of a vermouth drinker. When I did drink martinis I drank them very dry with a lemon twist - basically gin with lemon. I could handle one and barely even that. I was at a bar the other day with some friends and they had a non-alcoholic vermouth with tonic. It was perfect. Not too sweet, and tasted like a treat. Martini and Rossi make non-alcoholic vermouth, but if you know your vermouths, you'll have a favourite. Mix 1 oz N.A. vermouth with 3 oz good tonic water. In my case, I like to use half tonic water and 1/2 soda water. Garnish with an orange or lemon slice and a sprig of rosemary. Serve over ice.
I have found a line of dealcoholized wines that are passable. Unfortunately, they come with a hefty price tag so I buy them for special occasions: The Noughty non-alcoholic prosecco and Cabernet Sauvignon -- particularly the prosecco (it will also give me a headache if I drink too much due to the yeast but you have to throw caution to the wind sometimes!)
The good news is there are more and more mocktail options arriving online and in grocery stores all the time. The bad news is, they’re still pretty darned expensive – comparable to alcoholic spirits and real wine, like the expensive, vintage, “mise en bouteille au chateau” stuff.
If you have a favourite non-alcoholic wine or beverage, please share it in the comments section!
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