Figuring creative mocktail
garnishes is a game for Patrick
Coyne, beverage manager at
Potter’s Lounge in Chicago’s
Palmer House Hilton Hotel.
There are always four to eight
nonalcoholic drinks on the menu.
Here are some samples:
pomegranate lemon drop:
POM Wonderful pomegranate
juice, sweet ‘n’ sour, club soda
and lemon—garnished with
basil lemonade: House-infused
basil lemonade, simple syrup and
club soda—garnished with basil
leaves and lemon zest
nola mule: Goslings nonalcoholic
ginger beer, pineapple juice and
freshly squeezed lime—garnished
with a piece of crystallized ginger
blood-less mary: The Palmer
House’s famous bloody mary minus
the alcohol—garnished with celery
salt, celery, olives, red pepper, Key
lime and cherry tomato
virgin margarita: Garnished with
salt, Key lime, kumquat and a sprig
tuscan sun: Cranberry juice, freshly
squeezed lime, simple syrup, basil
and strawberries—garnished with a
VinJus verjus, green apple purée (from The
Perfect Purée of Napa Valley) and lemon
juice for acidity and a lightness to balance
out the verjus. She finishes it with a bit of
Fever Tree bitter lemon soda. For her mock
red wine, among other ingredients Dutton
combines Monin Spice Berry syrup with
brewed black tea, a little soda water and a
garnish of mint and berries.
Getting that unique flavor for some is a
matter of infusions, muddling, or in the
case of mixologist Gabriel Orta of Living
Room Bar at W South Beach hotel in Miami
Beach, Fla., setting fire to an herb in a glass.
Besides the smoky flavor, it makes for quite
a show. Orta and the other mixologists at
Living Room Bar are all about custom-making drinks for the patron on the spot.
“One of the best things about being a
bartender, you get to talk to customers and
ask them what they like to drink, what they
liked as a child, and then going to the pantry
and taking things out. We create drinks on
the spot all the time,” Orta says.
He may be found setting a few sage leaves
on fire in a glass to achieve a smoky flavor
similar to mate tea, then pouring fresh
pineapple juice on top, a little lemon,
honey and ginger, and serving it over
crushed ice with a pineapple spear and
sage leaf for garnish.
“With nonalcoholic drinks, it’s all imagination.
There are no rules,” Orta says. But there are
foundational suggestions. He strives for a
balance of sweetener and citrus. “It’s like the salt
and pepper for mocktails.” Any citrus will do,
and so will any sweetener, such as honey, sugar,
agave nectar or brown sugar. Simply muddle a
fruit juice (or thaw, purée and strain frozen fruit)
with a sweetener and citrus. Flavor layering is
the goal for both cocktails and mocktails.
Aside from setting fire to sage in a glass,
there are ways to draw attention to high-profit
nonalcoholic beverages, whether through
captivating names, awesome garnishes or
training servers to hype the drinks. At Moderne
Barn in Armonk, N. Y., servers are often
motivated by contests to highlight lesser-known
drinks to lift sales, says wine director Matthew
Christoff. He oversees all beverages at the
globally inspired American restaurant. “When
[servers] focus on a drink and draw attention to
it, it’s amazing how well it will sell,” he says.
Otherwise, drink garnishes go a long way
in adding eye appeal. For Moderne Barn’s
Peartree Martini, which is simply fresh pear
purée combined with sparking apple cider,
the server takes an empty martini glass to
the table, places a pear chip made from a
baked thin pear slice in the bottom of the
glass, and pours the drink over the top.
The garnish for the restaurant’s Blood Orange
Fizz drink is a thinly shaved blood orange
slice fried with sugar and salt added. The
drink itself combines blood orange zest for
bitterness mixed with fresh blood orange
juice or purée and sparkling cider.
Housemade candied cranberries are the
garnish for Moderne Barn’s Cranberry
Collins drink in which the staff makes a
A few of the nonalcoholic bar drinks served at Addison at The Grand
Del Mar in San Diego feature strawberry, vanilla and lavender; lemon
grass, lime and mint; and blackberry, Thai basil and rhubarb.