No alcohol doesn’t mean no fun. The n0/low drinking scene has undergone a revolution, with a boom in new products packing serious flavour punch – minus the corresponding abv. With so many of them to choose from – from dark spirit doppelgangers to booze-free bitters – there’s never been a better time for non-alcoholic cocktail making, either.
‘A non-alcoholic cocktail is not a mocktail,’ says Nicolas Medicamento of no/low shop and bar Club Soda in London. ‘A mocktail is basically fruit juices mixed together, and it’s one-dimensional. Cocktails have texture, mouthfeel, complexity, length – a journey. It’s about creating perfect balance, with or without alcohol.’
But for a home bartender new to NoLo, creating that balance can be daunting. no/low components taste different to alcoholic versions, are made in different ways and have different properties. You can’t just make a direct swap – say a non-alcoholic gin for regular gin in a Gimlet – because you’re lacking the ethanol that normally adds both flavour and body. More creativity is needed.
In the mood
Federico Pavan, director of mixology at The Donovan Bar in London – which serves excellent alcohol-free versions of many of its cocktails – suggests starting with the occasion or mood you want to evoke rather than a specific recipe. ‘If you want a feeling of escape, maybe try a tiki cocktail. You can use familiar flavour cues like pineapple, mango and coconut to get your brain making a connection to something like a Piña Colada. If you want an aperitif, think about bitter or dry drink elements that stimulate the appetite.’
Put strict rules to the side in favour of trial, error and flexibility. Be conscious to include acidity, sweetness and sourness but think outside the box in terms of combinations. ‘For example, you don’t need coffee liqueur in an Espresso Martini,’ says Medicamento. ‘You can deliver that sensation with two or three other ingredients. We use non-alcoholic stout to add a chocolate note, often found in coffee.’
Medicamento also suggests adding a little sugar or honey to your drink to help beef up that often-lacking density and mouthfeel. ‘Too many people leave it out in home cocktail-making,’ he says. ‘Don’t shy away from sugar!’
Find your flavour
There are now hundreds of no/low products out there to choose from, made in myriad different ways, from dealcoholisation to fermentation. While you shouldn’t expect the same flavours as in your alcoholic favourites, many come with similar overarching profiles. By finding a star product that echoes the qualities you enjoy in traditional spirits, you can build a portfolio of mixed drinks to suit your palate.
For example – rated both by Pavan and Medicamento – fresh Everleaf Marine might appeal if you like white spirits such as gin or tequila; while Everleaf Forest could suit if you love darker spirits such as rum. Wavelength’s smoky Amber Digestif has a bitter quality that works well in a Negroni, or in other cocktails that normally feature red vermouth. Meads or beers can add flavour or sparkle to drinks, while Nonsuch Shrub can lend acidity.
Finally, consider presentation. Serving temperature is important – normally ethanol gives drinks viscosity, but keeping NoLo products chilled creates a similar sensation. Medicamento suggests keeping bottles in the fridge and using plenty of high-quality ice when mixing. Meanwhile, Pavan insists on finding the right glassware and garnish to create a sense of occasion. ‘Visual impact is very important,’ he says. ‘If you serve Seedlip in a beautiful Martini glass, your imagination will see it as a Martini. Even if the flavour is not exactly the same, you’ve already done half the job.’
Non-alcoholic cocktail recipes to try at home
I Just Called to Say I Love Brew
A non-alcoholic version of the cult classic from no/low shop…
Source : https://www.decanter.com/spirits/how-to-make-brilliant-non-alcoholic-cocktails-at-home-520521/