A pair of 91-year-old twins test zero-alcohol cocktails. Plus, a recipe for an alcohol-free mint mojito.
If you’re joining the legions trying Dry January, you don’t have to give up celebrating special occasions as. In addition to tasting great, these fresh cocktails leave a pretty light impact on the Earth.
The term Dry January was coined in 2013 by a London-based charity as part of a public health campaign championed. The idea of abstaining from alcohol as a reset after holiday excess has since expanded into Sober February, and morphed into variations like Damp January, which simply involves reducing your alcohol consumption.
My husband liked the concept, so we joined in a few years ago. We weren't alone. Some one in five Americans have said they're giving Dry January a try. As a recipe developer and passionate craft cocktail lover, I began creating zero-proof cocktails (they are generally no longer referred to as mocktails) as a way to relax or to just have something special for festive occasions.
I decided to put some new recipes to the test with my father and my aunt, who were about to turn 91. Yes, they are twins, now living together after their spouses passed away.
I traveled to Glen Cove, New York, last week for the birthday celebration. Making new concoctions in their kitchen, juicing the citrus, smashing fresh herbs, and trying different combinations made the evening a lot of fun.
My dad is picky, so the only one he wanted to try was a raspberry-honey-lemon combo, an idea I thought might work. While he liked the drink, and sipped while he watched television, I thought it wasn't quite flavorful enough, so I moved on.
My Aunt Ellen, a beautiful woman and the better-looking twin (my dad would agree) has been my biggest supporter. She happily tried a kiwi, basil, lime, and honey drink, which I made by mixing crushed fresh kiwi and the other ingredients in a shaker then strained the liquid into a glass filled with ice and topped it off with soda water — typical cocktail making. “That looked like a lot of work,” my aunt said. Still, we both enjoyed the results. Aunt Ellen suggested calling the drink The Basil Leaf — a green name for our green drink and for our climate-friendly magazine. But ultimately, the effort involved might be a bit much for those wanting to just relax. The last test we tried was a variation on a mojito — fresh mint leaves, limes, muddled to release all the flavors, and a honey syrup. No rum of course. I added fresh cilantro sprigs for a surprise twist, lots of ice, and a float of soda water.
Cheers! We clinked our glasses together and sampled. This was the one, we agreed. And that's how the recipe below was created.
To make this non-cocktail making a little more sustainable, I did a couple things:
First, I developed the raw honey syrup recipe (really just honey and water) you see below. It's much better for you than the white sugar syrups and you don't even need to boil it like simple syrups. When using fruit, I always choose organic — it’s especially important to use organic raspberries as they can contain high levels of pesticides. And I turned to great seasonal winter citrus like grapefruit and limes (see the recipe for the Grapefruit Fizz here). Finally, though I didn't haul it with me to New York, I always use the SodaStream to make the sparkling water. It helps you cut back on all the single-use cans and plastic, especially when you want to practice a lot, like me.
Happy Birthday to Ed and Ellen. May we get to try this again next Dry January.Print