Merry Mocktails : Alcohol-free party drinks

By Frederick Jerant


‘Tis the season for holiday entertaining! And as we go dashing through the snow from one party to another – some lavish, some more intimate – it’s practically a given that plenty of food and drink will
be involved.

And while any fan of “Mad Men” knows that alcohol was once a dominant thread in our social fabric (my ancient copy of “Esquire’s Handbook for Hosts” devotes 30% of its content to the topic), today most of us know at least one person who chooses to avoid the stuff.

But we often overlook these holiday celebrants during our party prep. When they face an array of wines, whiskies and beers, their only alternatives might be a glass of plain tonic water, or a soda.

Why not offer some flavorful and festive alcohol-free supplements to your regular beverage list? You’ll delight your non-drinking guests with the unexpected surprise, and further cement your reputation as a thoughtful and considerate host.

Thanks to several Lehigh Valley bartenders, we’re able to offer you some simple “mocktails” that are light, refreshing, and very easy to make. 

Bill Delgado, manager and bartender at Morgan’s restaurant, Allentown, says “Mocktails can be packed with fresh flavors, and they give your guests worry-free options.” He offers two bubbly,
fruity concoctions.

• 1 oz. pineapple juice
• 1 oz. lime juice
• 2 oz. white grape juice
• Fresh blueberries and mint sprigs
• 3 oz. lemon-lime soda

Mix pineapple and lime juices in a cocktail shaker with ice. Add grape juice, mint sprigs and some blueberries to the shaker, and crush a few berries with the back of a spoon. Shake well and strain into ice-filled glass. Top off with lemon-lime soda and garnish with a few more blueberries.

Cherry-Ginger Fizz
• Frozen cherry juice concentrate, thawed
• Ginger ale

Carefully mix equal amounts of the two ingredients and serve over ice.

The tangy flavor of cranberries is highlighted in two delectable drinks, suggested by Rachel Griffith-Fox, manager of downtown Bethlehem’s Apollo Grill.

Cranberry and Apple Cider Punch
(2 servings)
• 1 c. apple cider, chilled
• 1 c. ginger ale, chilled
• 1/2 c. cranberry juice cocktail*, chilled

Gently mix the three ingredients, and pour into ice-filled glasses.
*You can also try cranberry/pomegranate or cranberry/raspberry blends.

Cranberry Lime Spritzer
(makes about 6 cups)
• 3 c. cranberry juice cocktail, chilled
• 3 c. lemon-lime soda, chilled
• 4 oz. limeade concentrate, thawed  (but kept cold)
• Fresh cranberries and sliced limes, for garnish

Combine cranberry juice and thawed limeade concentrate in a 2-quart pitcher. Slowly add the lemon-lime soda, to maintain the “fizz.” Keep chilled, or serve with ice. Garnish each serving with a few berries and lime slices.

A non-imbiber herself, Shanty on 19th bartender Melissa Makovsky knows first-hand the frustration of finding limited beverage options at parties. “Generally, every gathering should have options for both,” she says. “It’s good for everyone, including the kids.” She offers a quartet of quaffs to spice up your holidays.

Mulled Cider
(Serves 4-6)
• 6 c. apple cider or apple juice
• 2 whole oranges, sliced
• 1 whole lemon, sliced
• 1 lobe of fresh ginger, finely sliced
• 2-3 cinnamon sticks
• 10 whole cloves

Mix all ingredients and simmer in a saucepan or slow-cooker for 2-4 hours before serving; longer is better. Serve in mugs with a cinnamon stick or rock candy swizzle stick for stirring.

Cool Fall Grog
• Fresh brewed black or green tea
• Cranberry juice cocktail
• Sparkling mineral water, such as San Pellegrino

Pre-chill all ingredients, then mix gently and serve in a champagne flute garnished with a mint sprig and a few fresh cranberries. She notes that there are no set proportions for this drink; just mix to your taste.

Cherry-Lime Rickey
• Grenadine
• Fresh lime juice (or Rose’s lime juice)
• Club soda

Mix all ingredients in your preferred proportions and serve over ice in a “rocks” glass garnished with a maraschino cherry and a lime slice.

Winter’s Night Punch
(serves 10-12; can be doubled)
• 1 c. water
• 1/2 c. sugar, or to taste
• 1 lobe ginger, finely grated
• 3-4 ripe pears, peeled, cored and chopped into bite-sized pieces
• 2 qts. apple cider or apple juice
• 1 c. fresh cranberries
• 1 Tbsp. ground allspice
• 2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
• 1-2 lemons, sliced into rounds

Mix all ingredients in a large container, and transfer to a punch bowl. Garnish each serving with a thin pear slice.
Tim Hofschild, assistant general manager of Melt, Center Valley, says the restaurant often serves a non-alcoholic version of a popular rum cocktail, and offers a special OJ-based mocktail by request.

Strawberry Basil Mojito
(Serves One)
• 2 fresh-cut strawberries
• 2 lime wedges
• 4 small basil leaves
• Simple syrup
• Club soda
• Lemon-lime soda

Muddle the fruit and basil with simple syrup (to taste) just until juices are released.

Add ice to this mixture, and fill the glass with a 50-50 mix of the sodas. Stir gently to blend.

Bloody Orange Juice
• 1/2 oz. blood orange purée
• 1 oz. cranberry juice
• 1-1/2 oz. club soda

Gently stir all ingredients with ice, and strain into a martini glass.


Here are a few more non-alcoholic drinks, from “The Ultimate Liquor-free Drink Guide” by Sharon Tyler Herbst.

Caramel Apple Kiss
2 Tbsp. caramel sauce
• 2/3 c. apple juice
• 1/2 c. chilled seltzer or club soda
• Apple slice for garnish

Pour caramel sauce and apple juice into a tall glass; stir well. Add 3 or 4 ice cubes; top with seltzer. Garnish with apple slice.


Blameless Bloody Bull
1/2 c. tomato or V-8 juice
• 3/8 c. beef broth, beef bouillon or beef consommé
• 1-1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
• 1/8 tsp. black pepper
• 3 ice cubes
• Lime wedge for garnish

Shake all ingredients except garnish with ice. Pour into an Old-Fashioned glass. Add ice cubes; garnish with lime wedge.


Safe Sex on the Beach
3/8 c. cranberry juice cocktail
• 3/8 c. fresh orange juice or unsweetened grapefruit juice
• 2 Tbsp. peach nectar
• Maraschino cherry for garnish

Pour all ingredients except garnish into a tall glass; stir well. Add ice; garnish with cherry.


Cinnamon-Toast Toddy
1 c. milk
• ½ -1 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
• 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
• 1/4-inch-thick pat unsalted butter
• Ground cinnamon for garnish

In a small saucepan, combine first three ingredients; heat until simmering. Pour into a warm mug. Float butter on top; sprinkle with more ground cinnamon.


Chocolate Cinnamon-Toast Toddy
As above, except add 1 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder and increase sugar to 2 Tbsp.


Tropical Heat Wave
(Serves 2)
2 c. half-and-half or milk
• 1/2 c. frozen pineapple juice concentrate
• 1/3 c. cream of coconut
• 1/4 tsp. almond extract
• Toasted coconut, for garnish (optional)

In a medium saucepan, combine half-and-half, juice concentrate and cream of coconut. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until mixture begins to simmer. Remove from heat; stir in almond extract. Pour into warm mugs. If desired, sprinkle with toasted coconut.


1/2 c. apricot nectar
• 1/4 c. fresh orange juice
• 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
• Lemon twist as garnish

Shake all ingredients except garnish with ice; strain into a cocktail glass. Drop in lemon twist.

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