Here’s some sobering news from the world of bartending: Nonalcoholic beverages are trending in a big way as more and more people explore cutting back on their alcohol consumption. Thankfully, the days when abstainers had to settle for a ho-hum soda are gone now that buzz-free cocktails are being crafted with all the care and complexity of their boozy counterparts.
At East Sac’s Allora, lead bartender Leon Moore, who recently celebrated two years of sobriety, creates mocktails that are as interesting and creative as traditional cocktails. “I make things that I would want to drink when I’m out and about,” says Moore. “I love to create a really cool mocktail that has a beautiful garnish and is both delicious and appealing to the eye. Just because you’re not drinking doesn’t mean you have to go without something special when you’re in a social setting.”
Among Moore’s favorite creations is the Passion Project, made with passion fruit, cascara cola, alcohol-free falernum and lemon and topped with a honey and passion fruit foam. “The passion fruit combined with the cinnamon and clove notes make for a very refreshing drink with a tropical vibe,” says Moore.
Johnny Codd, the bar lead at Ella Dining Room & Bar downtown, believes it’s only natural that bartenders would devote more attention to concocting alcohol-free beverages that have a lot of character. “Bartenders like to be creative and to offer something unique. We don’t want to limit the guest experience based on whether or not they drink alcohol,” he explains. “Whether they’re taking a break from drinking or are the designated driver or aren’t yet 21, I want make them something special.”
Ella’s blueberry pomegranate lemonade, one of its most popular buzz-free drinks, is so good “it feels like you’re drinking a real cocktail,” says Codd. “I think it’s great that we’ve taken things to the next level with nonalcoholic drinks.”