Serious Mocktails

Mint is our ingredient of the season. We’ve used it in salads, drinks, and other potions. You can find our complete archive of mint posts here.
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You know that the Seasoned sisters love to kick back with a good alcoholic beverage, but we can also appreciate a nicely mixed mocktail or two. Who doesn’t have fond memories of being served their first Shirley Temple? And while we still wouldn’t pass one up,  today we’re talking about mocktails that are a bit more creative in both their list of ingredients and combination of flavors. With the right ingredients on hand these mocktails take seconds to mix, making them a perfect alternative to offer up at your Labor Day bbq this weekend.

I’m not a huge fan of mocktails that imitate alcoholic drinks. If I’m going to skip the alcohol, I want my drink to be full of creative flavors. That said, once I come up with a winning mocktail, it often doubles as the perfect base for my next cocktail. With a splash of gin or SAGE, both of today’s drinks can become the spirited life of the party! (Excuse us, we couldn’t pass up the pun.)

liveseasoned_summer2014_mocktails7_wmWhen making mocktails I like include three components:

  • the flavored juice or soda that will form the foundation of the drink
  • fruits or herbs that will compliment the base flavor and add interest (so your guests aren’t just drinking juice and bubbles)
  • seltzer water because the bubbles add a nice touch if you’re using juice and I find that juices and sodas are generally too sweet to have you drink more than one mocktail without the seltzer

The flavor base for both of today’s drinks is a uniquely flavored soda. I’m a huge fan of Whole Foods’ grapefruit soda and couldn’t wait to turn it into something more. While shopping I also picked up IZZE’s peach soda because it’s peach season and I was intrigued (the flavor was great!). I was hoping to pick up some cucumber soda (there are a few different brands including Mr Q Cumber and Dry), but alas, Whole Foods doesn’t carry any and I was up against the clock.

Once I have my base, I go to the produce section to scope out what is in season. When coming up with combinations the one thing I try to avoid are drinks that are overly sweet. So I’m always looking to use sweet juices sparingly, and when I do use them, I may cut the sugary flavor with a touch of something tart or bitter. On the other hand, if I start with a base that isn’t too sweet, then I give myself the liberty to reach for the ripest, sweetest fruits in the market. You’ll see how these ideas come together below!

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Grapefruit Fig & Mint

The grapefruit soda is perfectly tart but with just enough sugar so that it still tastes like a treat. Adding the combination of fresh figs and mint provide a green/fresh flavor that made the citrus base even more refreshing to drink. I also liked the texture of popping the fig seeds between my teeth with each sip, and I hope you will too!

In our produce section, figs are front and center right now, they are perfectly ripe and free from blemishes ~ a sweet compliment to the tart soda and a fun accent for garnishing glasses and plates (add a fig and cheese plate to your picnic menu!). But I didn’t want to stop with just two flavors, and while I wouldn’t normally get excited about the idea of a grapefruit-mint pairing, muddling mint with the fig pulp was appealing.

To make this drink begin by scooping out the pulp from 2 figs. Muddle it in your glass with the mint leaves. The more you can pulverize the figs the better in terms of them mixing well with your soda (you can see them floating in my glass above). While Calder loved the flavor of this drink, he didn’t love the rustic look of the fig seeds. Once your figs and mint are ready, add the soda and seltzer water.

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Peach Blueberry & Lime

For this cocktail, I was starting with a sweeter base, the peach soda. So I immediately knew that I wanted to cut it with a touch of lime juice, but that combination along wasn’t visually interesting. That’s where the blueberries come in! I don’t think of them as an overly sweet fruit, but they do have a nice flavor that is deeper (is that a thing) than the saccharine peaches, so in they went!

This drink is unbelievably easy to mix. Since blueberries aren’t in season near me, I used frozen berries. From there add your soda, seltzer, touch of lime juice, and you’re done!

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These drinks couldn’t be any easier to make, and they will really bump up the quality of your next bbq’s non-alcoholic offerings.  If you use our little formula for other flavor combinations, please let us know what you create!

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