Entertaining without alcohol doesn’t have to mean dooming your guests to canned soda or plain iced tea. With a bit of creativity, it’s easy to create some impressive non-alcoholic mocktails and other fancy beverage options that deserve all of the tiny umbrellas you can afford.
Ever wondered how to make apple cider from scratch? It’s easier than you might think. Or, for a less labor-intensive option, why not try some homemade Italian sodas or fancy flavored lemonades?
Homemade Italian sodas are easy and delicious. The base is simple: Just combine soda water with flavored syrup over ice. You can serve it just like that or add a splash of half-and-half for an Italian cream soda.
What makes these sodas special is the variety of flavoring options available. Fruity flavor syrups are some of the best, but you can also opt for flavors like amaretto, hazelnut or plain vanilla.
For a twist, try adding a scoop of vanilla ice cream to your soda instead of the cream and ice. You can also use the flavored syrups for other treats like flavored coffee and even snow-cones. Try giving your guests a choose-your-own-adventure Italian soda bar and let them play home-brew mixologists in search of the perfect flavor combination.
Warm Apple Cider
On a cold winter night, nothing is as welcome as a steaming mug of hot cider. If you’re wondering how to make apple cider at home or if it’s even worth the effort, don’t worry: cider is super easy and low-effort. In fact, you can toss the ingredients together in a slow cooker and leave it on all day to fill your house with the beautiful aroma while the cider comes together.
Apple cider requires a few simple ingredients:
- Apples, fresh and roughly chopped
- Oranges, which give brightness to the mix
- Sweeteners of your choice, such as maple syrup or brown sugar
- Spices like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice or ginger
Just combine the ingredients with some water in your slow cooker and let them meld together. Once you’re finished, you’ll just mash up the cooked apples and strain the whole mixture through a fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth. If you’re nervous, here is a detailed recipe to follow.
Vinegar Cordials and Shrubs
In barkeeper parlance, a shrub is a syrup made by combining fruit, aromatics, sugar, and vinegar. The resulting sweet-and-acidic mixture can then be combined with other ingredients, from soda water to iced tea or lemonade, to create a fancy alcohol-free drink.
To make your own shrub, you’ll just need fresh fruit or berry of your choice. Roughly chop the fruit and combine it with an equal quantity of granulated sugar. Let this sit in a bowl in the fridge overnight to macerate, then strain of the liquid and combine it with vinegar in a 1:1 ratio, or a half-part vinegar to every part fruit liquid if you’d prefer your shrub less tart.
Once finished, you can use this syrup to flavor nearly anything. Experiment with fizzy soda water or fresh-brewed tea for a home-grown mocktail.
Whether you’re entertaining for a group of teetotalers or just want a change of pace, these drink recipes are sure to hit the spot. Once you’ve mastered one technique, feel free to start experimenting with more. There’s really no wrong answer when it comes to non-alcoholic mixology.