How To Make Your Own Fancy Non-alcoholic Cocktails

Summer party drinks without alcohol have come a long way. Here are recipes for four of the trendiest bar drinks that’ll never leave you hungover.

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Photo, Ashley Capp. Drink styling, Ashley Denton.

Temperance hasn’t been this popular since—well, maybe the early 20th century? If you’re hosting a backyard gathering, follow the lead of the hot bars below and offer virgin options with as much delicious dimension as the boozy ones. (Each recipe makes one drink.)

The Waterbird, from Vancouver’s Tocador

Photo, Ashley Capp. Drink styling, Ashley Denton.

Elegant, cheerful Tocador serves this bold drink in a jarrito, or clay jar. Ginger beer gives it a ferocious bite, while the floral lift of mint and lavender lightens things up—imagine a pretty bow on a pit bull. Try it with spicy food.

Syrup
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
½ cup dried lavender (find it in health food and gourmet food stores)

Cocktail
8 mint leaves, plus 1 mint sprig for garnish
1 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
Ginger beer (Tocador uses local brand Dickie’s Ginger)

To make lavender syrup
Add sugar and water to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Add enough lavender to make a fine layer across the liquid, and lower heat to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes. Strain out lavender and set mixture aside until cool.

To make cocktail
Muddle mint leaves in cocktail shaker, then add lemon juice and ¾ oz syrup. Add a big handful of ice and shake. Strain using a fine-mesh strainer into a glass filled with ice, and top with ginger beer. Garnish with mint sprig.

Boozy option
Gin always goes nicely with lavender, so there’s one easy option. An ounce of pisco, a South American clear brandy, adds even more complexity.

The Golden Afternoon, from Calgary’s Proof

Photo, Ashley Capp. Drink styling, Ashley Denton.

This resplendent Calgary bar seems like just the place for a boozy drink, yet it also makes ones with Seedlip, a non-alcoholic spirit found at specialty grocers. In the Golden Afternoon, chamomile and Seedlip Grove 42 combine to evoke sepia-toned memories of drinking Tang, while crushed pepper and fragrant Spice 94 bring adult sophistication.

Syrup
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
3 chamomile tea bags

Cocktail
1 ½ oz Seedlip Grove 42
¼ oz Seedlip Spice 94
½ oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ tsp white peppercorns
Twist of lemon peel, for garnish

To make chamomile syrup
Add sugar and water to a saucepan and simmer, stirring to dissolve. Turn off heat, add tea bags and steep for 25 minutes. Remove bags and cool.

To make cocktail
Add Seedlip spirits, ½ oz chamomile syrup, lemon juice and peppercorns to a cocktail shaker. Muddle peppercorns. Add a handful of ice and shake cocktail with ice for 20 seconds. Strain using a fine-mesh strainer into a chilled coupe cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon peel.

Boozy option
The soothing sweetness of chamomile pairs well with many spirits—experiment (one at a time) with gin, cognac, Canadian whisky, tequila….

The Clover Field, from Toronto’s PrettyUgly

Photo, Ashley Capp. Drink styling, Ashley Denton.

This intimate, busy spot calls its non-alcoholic cocktails “placebos.” Our hot weather favourite is the Clover Field: Fruity, frothy and a fetching millennial pink, it’s all pretty and no ugly. A dose of Seedlip Garden 108 adds a savoury bass note to the raspberry’s fruity high.

6 raspberries
2 oz Seedlip Garden 108
¾ oz elderflower cordial (search for it online or at gourmet food stores—try Split Tree brand)
½ oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 egg white
Pinch sumac, for garnish

To make cocktail
Muddle raspberries in a cocktail shaker and add all other ingredients, except sumac. Shake with ice and use a fine-mesh strainer to strain into a tall vintage coupe. Garnish with sumac on the surface of the foam.

Boozy option
Substitute 1 oz dry vermouth for 1 oz Seedlip.

The Each Other, from Montreal’s Nhâu Bar

Photo, Ashley Capp. Drink styling, Ashley Denton.

Iced tea and lemonade go together famously. A tall drink from this Vietnamese-themed snack-and-cocktail spot strikes a balance between earthy matcha and tart yuzu.

3 oz matcha tea
½ oz freshly squeezed lime juice
3 oz yuzu soda (the bar uses Montreal’s 1642 brand)
4 lime leaves, for garnish (substitute basil or sweet basil if you can’t find lime leaves)

To make cocktail
Sweeten matcha tea with sugar if you find it too bitter. Combine cooled tea with lime juice, soda and ice in a highball glass and stir gently. Garnish with lime leaves.

Boozy option
Add your favourite vodka or gin.