With all the time brides spend on crafting perfect wedding cocktails, non-alcohol drinks get the short end of the stick. Often the alcohol-free selections include bottled water or sugary sodas... only. But all that is changing now that more bars, restaurants and venues offer an elevated alternative: craft mocktails, sans alcohol, with all the flourish of a high-end cocktail.
"Customers now see mocktails as being as complex as traditional cocktails," says Pascaline Lepeltier, master sommelier and beverage director of Rouge Tomate in New York, known for its extensive mocktail list. "There is a palpable shift toward health-conscious eating, so mocktails offer a great, refreshing alternative for those who might not want sugary cocktails or alcoholic beverages."
For brides looking for healthier alternatives or non-alcoholic beverages for religious reasons, mocktails often the perfect mix of craft cocktail culture and crowd-pleasing allure. Here are seven tips for serving up mocktails at your wedding.
Make a non-alcoholic version of a classic cocktail.
The most obvious mocktail — non-alcoholic versions of cocktails like mojitos and bloody marys — can be served alongside their boozier cousins. Lepeltier recommends looking for cocktail recipes that typically have a vodka base, then having bartenders make it without the neutral alcohol kick.
"Healthy juice combinations are now part of the food landscape," Lepeltier says, noting Rouge Tomate's pressed juice program. Offering fresh, juice-based beverages is a step above fruit juices from concentrate and fountain soda, and guests will certainly take note.
Mocktails don't have to be simple. Jazz up tonic water with fresh herbs, fruits or cucumbers, and make them beautiful to look at. "Glasses, garnishes, ice cubes, straws — all the details should be carefully considered," explains Pietro Collina, head bartender at The Nomad in New York. "This will make all your guests feel like they are an equal part of the festivities. I want my non-drinking friend to feel like they are having an extravagant cocktail."
Fizz it up.
Nicely carbonated drinks quench thirst and cleanse the palate, explains Collina. Not only do many restaurants and wedding venues now offer homemade sodas, but more and more brands offer products with no artificial additives and lower sugar. He recommends checking the sweetness of the soda, since guests want to enjoy at least two over the course of the night, but other than that, go wild with fun flavors.
Be more creative than the usual suspects. Look up seasonal fruits and put a twist on the mock-tails. Melons and berries work well for the summer; cinnamon, nutmeg, maple syrup and apple cider scream fall; tropical fruits offer a welcome reprieve from winter; and, light herbs, fennel and rhubarb signal spring.
Create a mocktail station.
Not sure what mocktail to go with? Offer diversity. Create a mocktail station that offers a juice-based drink, soda, sparkling beverage and savory beverage. This, Lepeltier says, shows guests you're being mindful of those who are not drinking alcohol.
Make it shareable.
Non-alcoholic drinks make delicious punches that can be served all night long. Your guests will spend less time in the bar line and more time on the dance floor. "It'll keep guests hydrated with all that dancing they'll be doing," Collina says. "Sometimes it's not necessary to add a spirit to make an incredible drink."