For those seeking alcohol-free sips, majestic mocktails grace the menus at Newport Beach eateries.
By Crawford McCarthy
Call them whatever you’d like: zero-proof cocktails, non-alcoholic sips, designated driver drinks or simply mocktails. No matter the name, the fact remains that alcohol-free options that allow diners to imbibe responsibly have never been better.
A soda or simple tonic water mixed with citrus used to be the standard—but not anymore. Brands and bartenders alike have taken notice of the increasing popularity of mocktails, now putting time and effort into creating wonderful concoctions that serve as creative, flavorful experiences for those looking to drink sans the liquor.
For those still chasing the sensation of a spirit in a non-alcoholic drink, there are plenty of great brands on the market creating ideal ingredients. Malibu Farm uses some in its crowd-pleasing mocktail offerings. The pink peppercorn “margarita” features an alcohol-free tequila alternative from Ritual Zero Proof, which carries the earthy minerality of a traditional Highlands blanco. Paired with pink peppercorn agave, fresh lime juice and vibrant peppercorn salt, the drink soars with vibrant pops of flavor. Pair the mocktail with the eatery’s vegetable-forward salads or use the bite of the drink to cut through a heavier dish like the cheesy corn and bacon grilled sandwich. (949-791-2096; malibu-farm.com)
Inga Tantisalidchai, one of Orange County’s most intriguing bartenders, has worked with her team to develop a rotating seasonal mocktail that has become beloved amongst locals. “It’s like an escape to a spa—super refreshing with a slight tropical hint,” Tantisalidchai says of this winter’s iteration. “Actually, it’s funny how many people order it, then ask for vodka or something to be added because it tastes too good.” The drink features lychee, cucumber, garden-fresh basil, lime juice, simple syrup and ginger beer—with the latter two ingredients combining to enhance the flavors of the other ingredients without overpowering them. (949-287-6807; oleanewportbeach.com)
When wondering who crafted your cocktail (or, in this case, mocktail), you may not think of the cook—but Riley Huddleston, chef-partner at Lido House, is no ordinary chef. He has a deep love for cocktails and creativity, which is a key reason why the drinks at the hotel are so good. Huddleston understands how to develop flavor in nuanced ways, delighting guests with drinks like the Green Machine mocktail. Made with Seedlip’s Garden 108, the zero-proof spirit mingles with mint, cucumber and lime to produce a harmonious sip. Saline is also added in an attempt to enhance the flavors of the other ingredients and add more body to the drink, making it a refreshing option to enjoy as you take in views of Newport and its coastline from this rooftop bar. (949-524-8500; lidohousehotel.com)
Fable & Spirit
The beverage team at Fable & Spirit, headed by Director of Spirits Drew Coyle, knows how to create drinks that everyone can enjoy. “Fresh and locally sourced ingredients are fundamental for a well-balanced cocktail,” Coyle says. “Yes, it’s true—a cocktail traditionally needs a spirit in it, but a drink only needs the ‘spirit’ from the person consuming it.” The Irish-inspired restaurant’s No Shenanigans mocktail features pineapple juice, lime juice, simple syrup, muddled cucumber, shiso leaf and Fee Brothers’ Fee Foam frothing agent for a herbaceous, bodied drink that tickles the palate. Although it’s currently only listed on the brunch menu, Coyle says the mocktail is available anytime by word of mouth. (949-409-9913; fableandspirit.com)