Some of the world’s best bartenders are (finally!) paying attention to non-alcoholic beverages, which have long been ignored by the cocktail world in spite of the fact that there are literally thousands of liquids on earth that don’t contain a single molecule of booze. It’s kinda crazy when you think about it, isn’t it? There’s an infinite number of potential spirit-free combinations, yet these were barely explored by the hospitality industry until a few years ago when sobriety became trendy. But we’re now entering a golden age of inventive beverages, with brewers, distillers, bartenders, and books all starting to explore this vast, exciting frontier.
For her new book Zero Proof: 90 Non-Alcoholic Recipes for Mindful Drinking, veteran food writer Elva Ramirez collected unique NA recipes from some of the world’s best bartenders that are far more exciting than the unofficial beverage of teetotalers: club soda with a slice of lemon. There’s really something for just about everyone in this book: homemade sodas, luscious milkshakes, vivacious tiki-inspired drinks, and refreshing mocktails like this one: a beautiful, vegetal balance of sweet, savory, and spicy.
Excerpted from Zero Proof: 90 Non-Alcoholic Recipes for Mindful Drinking by Elva Ramirez (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2021)
Recipe by Meaghan Dorman, Raines Law Room, New York
Makes 1 Drink
Crisp and astringent, make the Double Green your summer zero-proof companion. It offers up a bracing vegetal note with a pleasant jalapeño burn that can be savored alone or paired with flavorful dishes like barbecue and burgers.
2 ounces fresh cucumber juice
¾ ounce Jalapeño-Infused Agave Syrup (recipe follows)
½ ounce fresh lemon juice
Chilled Fever-Tree club soda, for topping
2 or 3 cucumber wheels or ribbons, for garnish
In a cocktail shaker, combine the cucumber juice, jalapeño syrup, and lemon juice. Fill with ice and shake briskly. Strain into a chilled 12-ounce Collins glass filled with ice, top with club soda, and garnish with the cucumber wheels or ribbons.
Jalapeño-Infused Agave Syrup
Makes about 8 ounces
5 jalapeños, plus more if necessary, halved lengthwise
4 ounces water
4 ounces agave nectar
In a medium bowl, gently press the jalapeños with a wooden spoon to release some of the juices and seeds. Don’t muddle too much or you will end up with too many floaty bits. Bring the water to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Remove from the heat and add the jalapeños and any accumulated juices. Let steep for 10 minutes.
Add the agave and stir until combined. Let sit for another 10 minutes. This syrup should be spicy enough to make your lips tingle. If the syrup isn’t spicy, add more jalapeños and steep for a few minutes more, tasting along the way so that it doesn’t turn bitter. Strain the syrup into an airtight container, cover, and refrigerate for up to 1 month.