A mocktail, in the sober-curios lingo, is something you’d be mocked for — every time you order one. ‘What do you mean it’s not a real mocktail? They have a separate section on the menu, what else do you want?’ And what is a real mocktail anyway, besides an oxymoron?
For someone sipping on their third Diet Coke – the only non-alc option in most restaurants – those questions might sound like a lot. ‘Next time I’ll pick a bar that serves great mocktails,’ — you threaten your friends, only to find out that it’s not the most transparent search query. To avoid the tension and save you from such frustrations, we’ve rounded up a list of bars & restaurants offering cocktails with quality alcohol substitutes, not some diluted soda with 50 grams of sugar labeled as a mocktail. Read on to map out your sober revenge!
Boerum Hill / $$
If you want my future, forget my past… Easy, but not tonight, because with soft cocktails from Grand Army our memory remains intact. Known for their themed approach to the cocktail menu, the folks at Grand Army regularly update it with funny and at times odd motifs like Nicholas Cage, for example – a surefire ice-breaker and mood-setter. Their current Spice Girls menu offers three non-alcoholic drinks — Michelle Stephenson, Katrina Highkick, and Spicebus No. 19 — the famous Spice Girls tour double-decker. Made with non-alcoholic sweet vermouth and falernum, this cocktail ‘vehicle’ won’t get you somewhere you don’t expect (unless that’s something you’re looking for).
West Village / $$$
Although the notorious Sex & the City reboot And Just Like That seems to have pushed the ‘woke’ agenda too far, there was at least one trend they addressed right — the rapidly growing NA drinks demand.
Given the original show’s tendency to glamorize drinking, Miranda’s alcohol problem and her subsequent decision to quit is a good way for the writers to mend something they had a hand in rather than try to fix all the world’s imperfections at once.
The other characters, however, were allowed to keep imbibing, and the scene of Carrie and her love interest Peter throwing up on one another after their wild Negroni happy hour date was quite memorable. Surprisingly, Carrie gave Peter another shot — or so it seemed. For their second date, they met up at the iconic West Village restaurant Dante, or rather outside it, where Carrie broke the news — their relationship just wasn’t meant to be.
We couldn't help but wonder – was that her undying love for Big or apprehension of getting puked on again? In case it’s the latter, that could’ve been avoided if they followed Miranda’s example, as Dante’s now serving fabulous non-alcoholic cocktails. Hopefully, in the next season, we’ll find the couple happily chatting over some Espresso Shakerato, NA Dante Spritz, or NA Cosmojito, as long as they’ll be able to make a reservation. It’s always packed, so plan ahead should you decide to get there earlier than Carrie.
Williamsburg / $$$
Deux Chats, a bar opened in Williamsburg this summer, is the brainchild of the team behind Le Dive and The Nines — two extremely popular downtown spots on the nightlife map of Manhattan. The menu at this Francophile spot boasts a raw bar with oysters and seafood towers, but we don’t let that distract us, as we’re on the lookout for those mocktails. Notably, the drinks there are French-leaning as well, and we’d recommend trying Si & Am — the non-alc rosé-based fruity cocktail with raspberry, yuzu, and cranberry notes. While you’re waiting, you can try to decipher all the tiers of meanings behind this cocktail’s name. Or ask the bartender. Meow.
Flatiron / $$$$
For a more upscale experience, head to Eleven Madison Park — a three-Michelin-stars fine dining restaurant in Flatiron that recently shifted to being plant-based. Their cocktail menu reflects their vegan-friendly approach with all the drinks being named after plants and fruits – such as Sunflower, Corn, Hibiscus, and Lovage, to name a few. They offer a variety of soft drinks to choose from, most of which are based on our favorite non-alc brands which are quickly becoming the staples of the NA beverages industry – RUMish, Lyre’s, and Seedlip.
A nice bonus — they went ahead and came up with a range of food & drink pairings, one of which is a ‘selection of non-alcoholic beverages paired with each course ($95)’.
Williamsburg / $$
Sunday in Brooklyn is exactly what it sounds like — it’s a perfect neighborhood spot for a lazy weekend brunch in Williamsburg. Their ‘Zero Proof’ section features two cocktails — the Strawberry Buck and Mango Daisy — both made with ‘adult’ alcohol alternatives like Kentucky 74 NA Whiskey and Seedlip Garden 108, respectively. Both drinks are perfect daytime choices that won’t make you feel like you’re missing out while someone at the next table is emptying their bottomless Sangria pitchers.
East Village / $$$
With quotes on alcohol by the likes of Thompson, Bukowski, and some posthumously canceled members of the UK Parliament scattered all over their elaborate cocktail menu, Death&Co makes it almost impossible for imbibers to decide on a drink in less than half an hour. For those looking for non-alc options the choice would be much easier though, as there are only four positions on the menu. Although the Denver and LA locations initially opened with a mocktail menu, the NYC one only added it this year as a response to the increasing demand. That doesn’t mean that mocktails there are just an afterthought — they all are thoughtful picks made with premium NA spirits, with the Moneyball claimed to be especially popular. Come see for yourself, and in the meantime you can google who said this and what he was canceled for: ‘If you resolve to give up smoking, drinking, and loving, you don't actually live longer; it just seems longer.’ Well, he called that ‘love’.
*A rule of thumb when choosing a mocktail — look out for brands like Seedlip, RUMish, Pathfinder in the mocktail ingredients listed on the menu, as that would mean that the drink was created from scratch, not by simply removing alcohol from it, hence it’ll be balanced and will more likely resemble the real thing.