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Spirit-Free, Zero-Proof Cocktails

Spirit-Free, Zero-Proof Cocktails
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  • Spirit-Free, Zero-Proof Cocktails

    Post #1 - April 1st, 2019, 6:38 am
    Post #1 - April 1st, 2019, 6:38 am Post #1 - April 1st, 2019, 6:38 am
    Spirit-Free, Zero-Proof Cocktails

    Seedlip.jpg


    Recent surgery and short-term medication have made it necessary for me to forego booze for the short-term, but maybe (shudder) for up to six months. The prescribing doctor said (flippantly, I thought) that I could have two drinks a day. However, every online search I did on this med said it’d be best to avoid alcohol altogether, so that’s what I’m doing.

    I’m not happy about this. Still, it seems an opportunity to test my discipline, regenerate the liver (maybe takes only 30 days!) and maybe learn about what it takes to make a good cocktail without alcohol.

    In the past two weeks, I’ve been ordering spirit-free cocktails at mid-level places like Commons Club and upper-level places like Acadia. I’ve had some good ones and a few mediocre ones.

    If I can generalize, I’d say that when they’re not satisfying, it’s because they contain too much sweet fruit juice and not enough…bite. That bite can come from an acid (like vinegar or unsweetened citrus juice) or a bittering agent (like, you know, bitters – not amari, but just a dash of Angostura or something a little more interesting).

    We had some pomegranate drinking vinegar sitting in the back of the refrigerator, and I found that to be quite pleasant. I mixed it 1:5, vinegar: water. The acidity gave this drink the solvent qualities of a regular cocktail, with a pleasant though totally not sweet fruitiness. It seemed like I was drinking something, and that it would not be a bad complement for meat or fish.

    We have several different bitters in our now dusty liquor cabinet. Lately, I’ve been going much heavier with them than I would in a regular cocktail like the Manhattan, because when it’s just the bitters and bubbly water, the only interesting thing in there is the bitters, so I double-down on that. Bitters and water are more of an aperitif or digestif, though I have had bitters and seltzer with dinner, and it was better than nothing.

    I’ve been trying to do better than “better than nothing.”

    Seedlip is a spirit-free distillate. It was expensive, like $37 a pop, and I ordered the one called “Garden/108 Herbal” off Amazon. It was, so far, and to be kind, suck-o, much like lightly flavored tap water. My drinking vinegar and bitters pack much more interest than Seedlip for a fraction of the price. Julia Momose uses Seedlip at Kumiko, so I’m open to trying it in combination with other ingredients (so far, I’ve just had it with bubbly water, but it may very well take some other ingredients to make it shine).

    Spirit-free cocktails are not a new thing, and places like Alinea have been doing zero-proof pairings, but it’s pretty much new terrain for me.

    I’m hoping that, before I’m done, I’ll come up with a few recipes for drinks that satisfy without spirits. It’s a possibility. Isn’t it?.
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #2 - April 1st, 2019, 7:39 am
    Post #2 - April 1st, 2019, 7:39 am Post #2 - April 1st, 2019, 7:39 am
    I'm partial to just tonic and lime -- even boring tonic water like Schweppes.
    It's hardly a cocktail, but then it should taste approximately the same as a vodka tonic.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #3 - April 1st, 2019, 8:04 am
    Post #3 - April 1st, 2019, 8:04 am Post #3 - April 1st, 2019, 8:04 am
    JoelF wrote:I'm partial to just tonic and lime -- even boring tonic water like Schweppes.
    It's hardly a cocktail, but then it should taste approximately the same as a vodka tonic.


    The Trader Joe's tonic is quite good - cane sugar, not corn syrup. However, the stores all seem to be out because they're "reformulating."
  • Post #4 - April 1st, 2019, 9:25 am
    Post #4 - April 1st, 2019, 9:25 am Post #4 - April 1st, 2019, 9:25 am
    I went to Vajra when it was in its Soft Opening phase, with no liquor license. They offered a menu of very good, diverse spirit free cocktails including a black-tea based riff on an old fashioned. Granted, the only thing I thought the cocktail was missing to make it really great was bourbon...but that's not the point.

    Billy Sunday also does really thoughtful mocktails, without all the fruit juice-forward issues you describe (which is definitely the case at any restaurants and bars, even those well respected bar programs).

    Vajra
    1329 W. Chicago Avenue
    (312) 929-4990
  • Post #5 - April 1st, 2019, 10:57 am
    Post #5 - April 1st, 2019, 10:57 am Post #5 - April 1st, 2019, 10:57 am
    Some of the best drinks I've ever had were at Oriole, where for the novelty I chose the non-alcoholic pairings. Everything was excellent (and beautiful) and I would happily order again in place of booze, but to be fair there were a lot of unusual ingredients and most of the drinks were riffs on their alcoholic counterparts.

    Edit: hard to read, but I found this picture of the non-alcoholic flight, for inspiration:

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/loustejsk ... otostream/
  • Post #6 - April 1st, 2019, 11:08 am
    Post #6 - April 1st, 2019, 11:08 am Post #6 - April 1st, 2019, 11:08 am
    Vitesse98 wrote:Some of the best drinks I've ever had were at Oriole, where for the novelty I chose the non-alcoholic pairings. Everything was excellent (and beautiful) and I would happily order again in place of booze, but to be fair there were a lot of unusual ingredients and most of the drinks were riffs on their alcoholic counterparts.

    Edit: hard to read, but I found this picture of the non-alcoholic flight, for inspiration:

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/loustejsk ... otostream/

    Fyi, the woman responsible for those drinks and Oriole's cocktail program, the insanely talented Julia Momose, is now also running the beverage show at Kumiko, which features more than a half-dozen spirit-free cocktails.

    =R=

    Kumiko (website)
    630 W Lake St
    Chicago, IL 60661
    (312) 285-2912
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #7 - April 1st, 2019, 11:09 am
    Post #7 - April 1st, 2019, 11:09 am Post #7 - April 1st, 2019, 11:09 am
    Vitesse98 wrote:Some of the best drinks I've ever had were at Oriole, where for the novelty I chose the non-alcoholic pairings. Everything was excellent (and beautiful) and I would happily order again in place of booze, but to be fair there were a lot of unusual ingredients and most of the drinks were riffs on their alcoholic counterparts.

    Edit: hard to read, but I found this picture of the non-alcoholic flight, for inspiration:

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/loustejsk ... otostream/


    Lots of unusual ingredients might be key. In a straight cocktail, I'm fine with just three ingredients, but a spirit-free cocktail might need more to keep it interesting. This, unfortunately, may militate against making truly exceptional spirit-free cocktails at home (unless you invest in huge range of specialty ingredients).
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #8 - April 1st, 2019, 11:10 am
    Post #8 - April 1st, 2019, 11:10 am Post #8 - April 1st, 2019, 11:10 am
    ronnie_suburban wrote:
    Vitesse98 wrote:Some of the best drinks I've ever had were at Oriole, where for the novelty I chose the non-alcoholic pairings. Everything was excellent (and beautiful) and I would happily order again in place of booze, but to be fair there were a lot of unusual ingredients and most of the drinks were riffs on their alcoholic counterparts.

    Edit: hard to read, but I found this picture of the non-alcoholic flight, for inspiration:

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/loustejsk ... otostream/

    Fyi, the woman responsible for those drinks and Oriole's cocktail program, the insanely talented Julia Momose, is now also running the beverage show at Kumiko, which features more than a half-dozen spirit-free cocktails.

    =R=

    Kumiko (website)
    630 W Lake St
    Chicago, IL 60661
    (312) 285-2912


    I learned to appreciate vodka cocktails when Momose made them at Oriole; maybe I'll learn to appreciate spirit-free cocktails (more) when Momose makes them.
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #9 - April 2nd, 2019, 2:30 pm
    Post #9 - April 2nd, 2019, 2:30 pm Post #9 - April 2nd, 2019, 2:30 pm
    I love the Shrinebuilder, which has verdita as an ingredient. I bet if you do the verdita, and add some soda water and a touch of lime, it would be quite tasty, and uses nothing particularly fancy to make (jalapenos, cilantro, pineapple juice, mint - habaneros if you want to go there).
    Leek

    SAVING ONE DOG may not change the world,
    but it CHANGES THE WORLD for that one dog.
    American Brittany Rescue always needs foster homes. Please think about helping that one dog. http://www.americanbrittanyrescue.org
  • Post #10 - April 2nd, 2019, 3:48 pm
    Post #10 - April 2nd, 2019, 3:48 pm Post #10 - April 2nd, 2019, 3:48 pm
    leek wrote:I love the Shrinebuilder, which has verdita as an ingredient. I bet if you do the verdita, and add some soda water and a touch of lime, it would be quite tasty, and uses nothing particularly fancy to make (jalapenos, cilantro, pineapple juice, mint - habaneros if you want to go there).


    Verdita and Sangrita both seem like possibilities, though I might (as you suggest) take a pass on the habaneros.
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #11 - April 20th, 2019, 10:24 am
    Post #11 - April 20th, 2019, 10:24 am Post #11 - April 20th, 2019, 10:24 am
    This was an intriguing topic. But... :?:
    {to use a food-related cliché} I did not get off the shrimp boat yesterday.
    This is a ruse. A nicely-concocted one, I admit, but nonetheless a ruse.
    Look at the date of the original post. :twisted:
    What kind of fool do you think I am?
    This is not happening.
    If you really have to cut back on licensed beverage consumption, I recommend any of a number of gose beers being brewed by local craft brewers.
    [Nice try, David. You had a pretty long run with it. :wink:]
    The links you can use, without the fluff, or sales pitch: http://208.84.112.25/~pudgym29/bookmark4.html
  • Post #12 - April 20th, 2019, 10:37 am
    Post #12 - April 20th, 2019, 10:37 am Post #12 - April 20th, 2019, 10:37 am
    pudgym29 wrote: This was an intriguing topic. But... :?:
    {to use a food-related cliché} I did not get off the shrimp boat yesterday.
    This is a ruse. A nicely-concocted one, I admit, but nonetheless a ruse.
    Look at the date of the original post. :twisted:
    What kind of fool do you think I am?
    This is not happening.
    If you really have to cut back on licensed beverage consumption, I recommend any of a number of gose beers being brewed by local craft brewers.
    [Nice try, David. You had a pretty long run with it. :wink:]


    Ha, one of the drawbacks of posting on April Fool's Day.

    Alas, haven't had a drink in going on six weeks. It's more than a cut-back; it's total abstinence. How do I like it? Not much. To quote the greatest thespian of the twenty-first century, Andy Dick: "My performances are better, but I'm not enjoying them as much."
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”

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