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Sep 28, 2013 10:34 PM

Cocktail for "non-drinkers"??

We're martini drinkers, and when we have friends over for drinks they generally look forward to our classic gin (Bombay sapphire) martinis which we serve in gorgeous Baccarat martini glasses. We've recently befriended a couple who are "non-drinkers" and when we have them over for "drinks" before going out for dinner we are stumped. We, of course, have our classic martinis for ourselves, but feel uncomfortable offering them just a glass of juice, soda water or tonic. Is there something more festive (but relatively easy to prepare) that would be more appropriate to serve them??

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  1. Our generous hosts here at Chowhound have a slideshow on this precise subject.

    1. Those ideas from the slide show all look like kid's drinks to me. For an adult non-alcoholic (well, essentially), add bitters to plain seltzer and balance with citrus. I generally use Angostura and lemon. Use a fair bit of bitters (maybe 4-5 dashes to a highball glass). Lots of ice. A spring of mint would be welcome.

      I've also used Peychaud's, which is pretty, but you have to like anise. I also like Bittermens Hopped Grapefruit.

      Where did I get such a crazy idea? Julia Child. You can see the disdain in her face when she discusses guests who don't drink. She was a wonderful TV personality.

      Another good idea is seltzer and a high-quality fruit shrubb (fruit juice preserved with vinegar).

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      1 Reply
      1. re: EvergreenDan

        Dan, while most of those recipes in that slide show are basically kids drinks, there are a few that seem adult oriented. The little pink pearl, strawberry basil lemonade, pomegranate lime rickey, tropical fruit cooler, Cantaloupe Agua Fresca, lemon verbena drink, and the kiwi soda.

        It depends upon why the guests don't drink. If they are in recovery the amount of alcohol in bitters , while extremely small, is still alcohol. if they just don't like alcohol the bitters may work.

        Stirrings Blood Orange bitters are alcohol free. While not my favorite bitters to use for myself, they are pretty gppdd, but you need to use about 10X as much. they are more like a blood orange and spice syrup.

        You suggestion of shrubb is great. they are easy to make and taste great.

      2. I, unfortunately, happen to be one of the disdained non- drinkers. Not because I don't like to drink, or because I overindulged and am now in recovery. I simply have a health issue that doesn't allow for alcohol in the menu.

        That said, anything fruity and/or colorful is fine with me. Bitters doesn't sound like a pleasant drink, and I certainly don't need to drink things that taste nasty so I can pretend they are alcohol.
        Just make your friends a nice beverage that you'd drink yourself at lunch, perhaps, or for a summer picnic. Being a seltzer water fan, I like it with lemon or lime, or a shot or two of cranberry juice or grapefruit juice.
        Your guests are there to see you, and are not feeling deprived while you have your martini.
        Keep it simple, use a pretty glass, a twist, and plenty of ice. Easy peasy.

        3 Replies
        1. re: kitchengardengal

          kgg- I guess you've never had bitters and seltzer? Otherwise you wouldn't call a very tasty and refreshing drink nasty. Are you aware what bitters are? There are around 100+ "bitters" on the market today, up from 4-5 ten years ago. They come in some amazing flavor profiles and are really tasty. Although the traditional Angostura is my favorite, and that's including the one I put on the market three years ago.

          Why do you consider yourself "one of the disdained non- drinkers?"

          Even though I work in the spirits/cocktail industry I love creating non-alcoholic drinks for people who choose not to drink alcohol. I recently put 6-7 non-alcoholic drinks on several restaurants menus, and people love them.

          1. re: JMF

            JMF, my comment about disdained non-drinkers refers to EvergreenDan's post about Julia Child. I meant that mostly tongue-in-cheek.

            I have to admit, it's been a long time since I've had Angostura bitters, and I am willing to take your advice and give it a try in some seltzer water.
            My intent was to point out that non-alcoholic drinks that have fruity or sweet flavors aren't necessarily "kid's drinks". There are plenty of very popular adult beverages that are loaded with sugar syrup or juices. Taking the alcohol out doesn't make them less "adult".

            1. re: kitchengardengal

              Julia had similar disdain for her vegetarian guests.

              I'm not a fan of "popular adult beverages loaded with sugar syrup or juice". I'd argue they aren't really very adult, and removing the alcohol doesn't change that.

              I'm no doctor, but suspect the alcohol content of a dash or two of bitters in comparable to that of fresh-baked bread.


        2. I rarely, rarely drink and my husband never does. He's very happy with water and I'd love it if I was offered some really fresh iced tea or lemonade with a slice or two of citrus fruit. Frankly, I don't feel as though I'm missing out which may be the source of your discomfort. I'm only guessing, of course. The only time I feel awkward being the only non-drinker is when I'm offered something like milk and clearly as an afterthought. And then questioned about why I don't drink :)

          1. To begin, there is no such thing as as non-Alcoholic Cocktail because by the most accepted definition of Cocktail is a drink including Spirits. No that that nomenclature is done lets get to your issue. How about a bottle high quality mineral water, with or without flavor, with the same garnish as your Martinis? It would look elegant I believe and show you gave thought to their accommodation.