People have many reasons not to drink alcohol — because they’re addicts or pregnant or for other health reasons, because they don’t enjoy the effects or don’t like the taste, because they’re driving or under 21, or because they just don’t feel like it today. That’s no reason to leave them out of an essential part of the dining experience by not offering them a well-thought-out, delicious beverage. It’s also no reason for restaurants not to profit from a high-end drink that their guests will enjoy.
So with increasing frequency, restaurant operators have learned not to neglect their hospitality duties by only offering their tea-totaling customers soda, water, juice, coffee or tea. Instead, they’re providing drinks with all the creativity of cocktails without the booze, and with a considerable markup.
Sometimes called mocktails, but more recently upgraded to the more positive moniker of spirit-free cocktails, classic versions include the Shirley Temple and Roy Rogers — lemon-lime soda or cola, respectively, with grenadine and a maraschino cherry — new versions range from tonics and toddies to botanical brews with apoptogenic ingredients meant to stimulate the mind or relax the body.
Market research firm Datassential reports that spirit-free cocktails are on 383% more menus now than they were four years ago, but there’s still plenty of runway for them as they remain on fewer than 1% of menus.
Click through the gallery to learn more about this Flavor of the Week and see how one operator is showcasing mocktails on its menu.