How to make mocktails for your non-drinking friends at your boozy wedding

July 2 2014 | Guest post by Joni

How to make mocktails for your non-drinking friends at your boozy weddingThe secret that some bartenders don't want you to know is that nearly any cocktail can be improvised into a mocktail. Why don't they talk about this more often? I don't know. Maybe it makes them feel less fancy or somehow undermines their credibility. I take the completely opposite stance. I feel that being able to cater to any kind of guest demonstrates flexibility.

I often have children approach me at the bar and ask for something. The bar is decorated, it's lit up, people are crowding around it, and I'm obviously handing out something — they don't know better. Having sodas and mocktails on hand makes kids, teens, and non-drinking friends feel welcome.

There may also be guests who don't want to drink for personal reasons, but don't want others to know about it, such as a recovering alcoholic or someone who is newly pregnant. By offering mocktails, all of these guests can feel that they are part of the action.

The secrets of making mocktails fun and amazing are…

  1. Putting them in the same highball or rocks cocktail glasses that you are using for your real cocktails.
  2. Filling the glass to the top with ice just as you would for a real cocktail.
  3. Taking time to decorate them properly, whether that be with a fresh, organic garnish, a decorative straw, or both.

Today I'm going to share with you some of my go-to mocktail recipes. These recipes are so incredibly simple that I'm not even going to bother to write out full instructions and ingredients for each; simply fill a highball glass with ice, add the ingredients described, stir, and enjoy!

just put ice in highball glasses and make these mocktails. Photo from Mint & Mirth's instagram.
just put ice in highball glasses and make these mocktails. Photo from Mint & Mirth's instagram.

My favorite mocktails:

Yep, you can probably tell I love Bundaberg. But the thing about this company is that they are based out of Australia, so if you want to get them in the US, it makes them expensive.

Mint & Mirth Shirley Temple.
Mint & Mirth Shirley Temple.

So let's talk about some cheaper alternatives:

  • Standard mocktails such as Shirley Temples, Roy Rogers, etc.
  • Muddled mint and lime topped with soda water
  • Muddled cherries and grenadine topped with tonic water
  • Muddled strawberries and basil topped with soda water
  • Muddled rhubarb with rhubarb syrup topped with soda water
  • Ginger and honey syrup with green tea and soda water
Photo from Mint & Mirth's Instagram.
Photo from Mint & Mirth's Instagram.

And hit up your local Trader Joe's to make:

  • Trader Joe's Sparkling Lemonade with rosemary
  • Trader Joe's Sparkling Limeade with rosemary
  • Trader Joe's Sparkling Blueberry with blueberries as a garnish
  • Trader Joe's Grapefruit Sunset Blend with sliced peaches
  • Trader Joe's 100% Cherry Juice with cardamom bitters and soda water
  • Trader Joe's Organic Spiced Cider, heated with cinnamon sticks

Get the picture? Any standard mixer such as a sparkling soda can be jazzed up. Use fresh fruit, use seasonal herbs, bring in a local flavor or ingredient that's famous in your city.

The idea is to keep it classy and not pigeonhole non-drinking guests into drinking Coke all night. They want to party, too.

  1. Cheers!

    These look delicious! 🙂

    My FH has never had alcohol and never plans to (which his scotch-loving FW can't quite figure out but accepts all the same), and so we came up with the idea of having an Italian soda bar with our regular bar, similar to what Joni described above. He loves having lots of flavors to choose from and fresh garnishes for some visual (and flavor) pizzazz. With whipped cream. Because why not?

    And as a weird bonus, it makes the former bartender in me happy. (Specialty drinks are fun and delicious, but are hella time consuming if you're not working in batches and the bar is full of people, and I try to be very conscientious whenever I have serving staff working for me because I know the pain.) Italian sodas can be whipped up in 10 seconds with a rack of syrups and a trusty soda gun. It's a thing of beauty.

  2. I totally needed this today! I'm doing a 3-month "alcohol detox/give my liver a break" and have been missing fun drinks. Now I'm totally going to make Mocktails all weekend long….

  3. As a pregnant lady attending a few weddings in the next few months, can I just say I appreciate you?

    Shirley Temples are great, but variety is nice too.

  4. OOOh These are fab. Being a Kiwi we can get the Bundaberg drinks here for not too much so I will be trying them all out at the next gathering. Thanks!

  5. i LOVE mocktails! I'm not a big drinker so fizzy water with garnishes is something I do a lot. My favorite is with ginger simple syrup made from actual ginger juice. Add freshly grated ginger, and muddled lime and mint, and bitters if you're feeling particularly fancy. 😉 (there are some seriously awesome artisanal bitters out there, ya'll, just do an interwebs search!)
    Kombucha is another fave of mine, or herbal infusions, either as a mocktail base or on their own. If you wanna get even crazier, there's all kinds of herbal tinctures and extracts that could be added to mocktails to produce euphoric/calming/energizing effects. I recently visited Boulder, CO that has a great spot called Tonic. It was awesome to go out with my friends for a delicious drink that was extremely unique and non-alcoholic, yet left me feeling pleasantly buzzed. I wish more places would embrace non-alcoholic alternatives! Viva la mocktail!

  6. Yay Bundaberg! I love that you've featured a product range that I recognise, and can actually buy easily from dairys and supermarkets. In the world of the internet, New Zealand doesn't often get to participate in all the fun recipes. Haha.

  7. I don't drink for health reasons, and I often ask for my soda water in a cocktail glass when at an event. Unfortunately, sometimes (not always) people can be nosey! I love these ideas. Thank you!

  8. Ugh, this was a really good reminder that I should provide something like this at our wedding. We'll have the standard sodas and juices, but we have a few friends and family members that don't drink and might want to feel "fancy" with a specialty drink. At our recent engagement party, one of my friends drank his soda out of a champaign glass while we were drinking bubbly wine. He loved it!

  9. Want this so much! Posts like this make me wish we weren't have a wedding where our venue controls the alcohol. But totally borrowing this idea for some other event in the future!

  10. As one of those "alcohol free" people, I *adore* this and hope people take note. I will usually order my go-to cranberry-and-soda at bar situations like this, but it would honestly make me feel a LOT more welcome if there are some other non-alcoholic options and especially if I get to look as classy and sophisticated as the alcohol drinkers. Call me shallow, but I don't care XD

    Also, I think this is a really great way to ease people into drinking tastefully instead of drinking to excess – it's nice to be able to intersperse some non-alcoholic options to pace yourself for a long night partying, and it gives people a chance to do that with less social pressure. Hangovers are no fun, anyway.

  11. I love this! I dislike alcohol (it all tastes bad to me), so mocktails are my idea of fun. Ginger ale makes a great base for mocktails, especially the really dry ones. You can add sweet mixers and get a drink that's not too sweet, but has a nice spicy note.

  12. Thank you for this! As a recovering alcoholic, I find it difficult to attend summer parties and enjoy great drinks without the alcohol! These are wonderful ideas and very much appreciated! To any bride-to-be that happens to read this – having options beyond water and soda for anyone who chooses not to drink alcohol (regardless of the reason) would be super thoughtful, so please consider it!

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