Lose the Booze: Tips for Making Easy
Whether you’re taking a pass on the boozy beverages, looking to be an inclusive host, exploring a sober-curious lifestyle or simply not in the mood to nurse a killer hangover, you’re in luck. Non-alcoholic drinks of all kinds are gaining popularity in a big way. We no longer have to compromise on the quality of a cocktail experience by saying no to the sauce.
To help kickstart some booze-free brainstorming, O&B’s Cocktail Specialist Raj Rijhwani spills his secrets for making delicious cocktails that don’t need alcohol to taste great.
When creating a zero-proof cocktail, Raj recommends composing your drink with the same amount of care and detail as you would an alcoholic one. When creating a new ‘refresher’ for an O&B restaurant menu, Raj gives careful consideration to flavour development, highlighting what’s in season, sourcing local ingredients, thinking through presentation and — last but not least — picking the perfect garnish.
When it comes to spirit swaps, Raj notes non-alcoholic distilled spirits can add more depth of flavour, but they aren’t vital to a tasty beverage. Companies like Clearsips are making it easier than ever to source great-tasting non-alcoholic versions of almost every beverage out there. Raj notes Seedlip Garden 108 as one of his most recommended spirit substitutes, as well as HP Juniper’s line of gins, which can be spotted on several O&B menus across Toronto. Made in Québec, the alcohol-free, sugar-free spirit is distilled in a copper still like traditional gins and is made with a blend of aromatics for the most authentic experience.
Raj’s favourite refresher, which he calls the ‘Duchess of Temperance’, features non-alcoholic gin (or tequila), lime, pineapple and a housemade pomegranate rosemary cordial with Sichuan peppercorns. For garnish, torched rosemary is added for presentation and aroma, igniting the senses on all cylinders.
As his favourite is not featured in any restaurants (just yet!), Raj shares two zero-proof cocktail recipes to make at home. Both delicious, they’ll have sippers so satisfied that they won’t even miss the booze!
Maison Selby’s Raspberry Pepper Mojito
5 mint leaves
1oz lime juice
1oz raspberry black pepper syrup (see recipe below)
0.5oz raspberry juice
In a shaker, muddle mint leaves with lime juice.
Add raspberry black pepper syrup, raspberry juice and ice.
Strain into a Collins glass with ice.
Top with soda and garnish with additional mint sprig.
Raspberry Black Pepper Syrup
1 pint fresh raspberries*
Pinch of sea salt
10 cracks of black pepper from peppermill
Blitz all ingredients in a blender. Strain and store in a bottle for up to two weeks.
*If fresh berries are not available, use 300g of frozen raspberries. Boil all ingredients over medium heat. Turn off stove once liquid reaches a rolling boil. Let cool. Strain and store in a bottle for up to two weeks.
Posh & Spiced
1oz Seedlip Distilled Non-Alcoholic Spirit Spice 94
0.75oz lime juice
0.75oz cranberry juice
0.25oz ginger syrup (see recipe below)
soda water or ginger beer
Shake first four ingredients together in a shaker. Strain into a Collins glass with ice. Top with soda water or ginger beer for an extra gingery kick. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary or a slice of candied ginger.
4oz ginger, peeled and sliced into thin strips
Add ingredients to a medium saucepan and bring to a rolling boil. Turn off heat and let cool. Strain through a fine mesh strainer. Bottle and store in the fridge for up to two weeks.