As the prohibition on booze is dragging on, we chatted to three drinks experts to find out how to make perfect mocktails that are just as flavourful as the real deal.

As the prohibition on booze is dragging on, we chatted to three drinks experts to find out how to make perfect mocktails that are just as flavourful as the real deal.

What makes the perfect mocktail?

Chantelle Horn, Cocktail Consultant & Photographer at Crave: Balance between sweet and sour, ice to chill the drink properly and texture – quite often mocktails don’t have the texture of alcoholic drinks, and almost seem watery.

Cassandra Eichhoff, Director & Head Trainer at European Bartender School: Focus on one flavour and find pairings that will go well with it. Play around with cooking techniques (syrups, shrubs or infusions) and take water dilution into consideration, i.e. drink-making method.

Leighton Rathbone, Bar Manager at Gigi Rooftop Bar: Complexity. Just because it’s a mocktail, doesn’t mean it has to be a fruit-cocktail mix or a tall drink. Although alcohol can bring a lot of fun to the party, there are still lots of ways to get some really interesting flavours.

What advice do you have for combining flavours?

Chantelle: Generally people find the kitchen as a source of flavour less intimidating that the scary world of cocktails, [so] step into your kitchen and explore. 

My go-to combinations are:

  • Sir Fruit Cranberry Juice/Granny Smith apple juice and vanilla syrup
  • Elderflower cordial and coffee 
  • Ginger beer and fresh limes 
  • Pineapple and pepper
  • Grapefruit and pink pepper
  • Basil and blueberry

Cassandra: Just like when we cook food, we want an overall balanced taste. Consider what ingredients are more sweet or sour or bitter, what ingredients offer mouthfeel or heat or astringency, and don’t be afraid to pair flavours that you thought could never work.

Examples: 

  • Coffee and passion fruit
  • Pineapple and sage
  • Banana and masala
  • Raspberry and thyme
  • Beetroot and chocolate
  • Peanut and apricot

Leighton: Some flavours I love paring for this season are banana, granadilla, vanilla and brown (baking) spices. For something super healthy and refreshing, grapefruit, chamomile, mint and ginger.

Any good recipes? 

Chantelle

SHERBET SMASH

Ingredients

  • 37,5 ml Abstinence Cape Spice                                               
  • 25 ml  raspberry shrub*                                         
  • 25 ml apple juice                                       
  • 10 lemon juice                                            
  • 20 ml honey water (equal parts hot water and honey)                                        
  • 2 sprigs thyme

Method

  • Add Abstinence to Collins glass. 
  • Shake remaining ingredients. 
  • Add ice to glass, strain mix in and stir. 
  • Garnish with thyme. 

* Raspberry shrub

(A shrub is a sipping vinegar that’s a fantastic edition to any drinks trolley, made from vinegar, fruit and a sweetener like honey or sugar.)

  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • Sterilise container in boiling water.
  • Add raspberries in a thin layer and sprinkle sugar evenly over. 
  • Crush.
  • Rest in fridge for 6–24 hours, until majority of sugar has dissolved.
  • Strain out pulp, skins and pips. 
  • Add vinegar and refrigerate. 
  • Shake before use.                                     

Cassandra: 

CITRUS QUENCHER

Ingredients

  • 50ml Abstinence Apéritif Blood Orange Spirit Cooler
  • 20ml naartjie cordial
  • Elderflower tonic

Method

  • Add ice, Abstinence and cordial to wine glass.
  • Top with elderflower tonic and gently stir.
  • Garnish with orange wheel.

Leighton: Lately I’ve been on a Tennis Biscuit syrup binge! The nutty creamy almost caramel (and of course biscuit) notes mix well in a lot of applications. I’ve used it to replace the syrup in a sours cocktail, shaken it with aquafaba and pineapple juice for a Piña Colada-like drink; even mixed it in with plain yoghurt for a cheesecake-like treat.

TENNIS BISCUIT SYRUP

Method

  • Make a basic sugar syrup with 100g sugar and 100ml hot water. 
  • Once cooled, blend with 50g Tennis Biscuits and 50ml of hot water until smooth. Pour into jar and refrigerate.

This post first appeared on Food24 on 5 June 2020.