Mocktails: all of the fun without the headache

A selection of mocktails from The Brunswick Mess Hall Photo: Scott McNaughton/The Weekly Review

A selection of mocktails from The Brunswick Mess Hall Photo: Scott McNaughton/The Weekly Review

Work drinks on Friday night followed a by bar-hopping Saturday, a boozy-brunch Sunday and then crawling into work smelling like a brewery on Monday is no longer the done thing, it seems.

The reason for the change is unclear, but this passion for cleaner living does seem to be more prevalent among younger folk. Perhaps social media means socialising doesn’t always have to be done at bars or, maybe, in the information age, we can no longer hide from the negative effects of alcohol.

The good news, though, is that we can relinquish our hangovers without having to give up the fun, social and ritualistic aspects of drinking alcohol. Enter the mocktail.

These non-alcoholic school-night alternatives have become so popular that entire recipe books and bar menus are being devoted to them. Best of all, they look as gorgeous as a genuine cocktail, taste as divine, and are considerably cheaper. Strawberry black peppercorn shrub soda, anyone?

Your path to mocktail magnificence

Buttermilk masala chaas. Photo: Supplied

Buttermilk masala chaas. Photo: Supplied

If you fancy jumping on this modern sobriety bandwagon, begin at home by stocking up on a few key ingredients.

Start off simple – if you own a juicer or citrus press, consider combining freshly pressed apple juice with mint leaves, lime, sugar syrup and soda to make an apple virgin mojito.

Alternatively, blend fresh lime juice with strawberries and mint for a delicious virgin daiquiri.

Tea also makes a terrific base for all manner of teetotal treats, including Earl Grey granita with a tangerine twist and jasmine ginger iced green tea.

As tasty as these are, some non-believers will always be quick to point out there is something missing – the kick. To recreate the tang and vigour of alcohol, invest in some botanical bitters. Created by infusing barks, flowers, roots and berries, bitters are to cocktails what seasoning is to food, and you’ll be amazed at how even a few drops can liven up the blandest beverage (beware, though, they will add a nominal quantity of alcohol into the mix).

Cordials also add a much-needed flavour boost. From Morello cherry, rosehip and rhubarb to the more classic elderflower and ginger, any cordial mixed with soda is an instant mood lifter.

Some of Australia’s top bartenders have also set out to create a mocktail menu that rivals the real deal. Sydney’s Momofuku Seiobo have led the way with its cloudy T Totaler Earl Grey tea, which is elegantly spiked with tea caramel. Closer to home, South Wharf’s Bangpop serves the most stunning buttermilk masala chaas, laced with mint powder, black salt, cumin seeds, coriander seeds and mint leaves.

With such an abundance of herbaceous delights on offer, you can smugly volunteer to be the designated driver. You’ll enjoy a brilliant night out with none of the hangover horror that follows.

Apple virgin mohito. Photo: Supplied

Apple virgin mojito. Photo: Supplied

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