Move over, mocktails: There’s nothing to scoff at when it comes to non-alcoholic cocktails. In an effort to elevate the dining and drinking experience for those who choose not to imbibe, bartenders are using housemade shrubs, tinctures, syrups and more to shake up creative drinks that are just as thoughtful – and delicious – as their boozy cousins.
Gram & Dun
Gram & Dun launched its non-alcoholic cocktail program about two years ago; bar manager Jacob Bowyer says the restaurant plays host to a lot of celebrations, and he wanted everyone to be able to join in on the fun. The Strawberry Blonde is the star of the program, featuring a housemade strawberry-ginger shrub, rhubarb, lemon juice and ginger beer, while The Garden Party mimics agua fresca flavors with cucumber, basil syrup, mint, lemon and a splash of Topo Chico. “You’re trying to craft something that has that same balance and on-point flavors without alcohol,” he says. Look for three new booze-free seasonal cocktails to drop next month.
Gram & Dun, 600 Ward Parkway, Country Club Plaza, Kansas City, Missouri, 816.389.2900, gramanddun.com
Since opening in Lafayette Square in 2013, Planter’s House has solidified its reputation as one of the best spots for craft cocktails in St. Louis. But the bar team’s creative approach extends to non-drinkers, too: In addition to house cocktails, classics, new classics and bottled cocktails, you’ll find a short but sweet list of non-alcoholic offerings. These range from the Berry Temple, a twist on the classic made with berry shrub, housemade grenadine and lemon-lime soda, to the playfully named 24 Carrot Magic with carrot-turmeric juice, lemon, Coco Rico coconut soda and ginger cordial.
Planter's House, 1000 Mississippi Ave., Lafayette Square, St. Louis, Missouri, 314.696.2603, plantershousestl.com
At Bon Bon in Lawrence, Kansas, you can pair steamed buns or cheesy tots with one of the restaurant’s “Potions,” which can be served with or without alcohol. The drinks are designed to appeal to those who want a booze-free option that’s still unique and sophisticated, and general manager Ryan Bowersox says they help make the restaurant accessible to all. The best-selling Unicorn Soda is a bright-pink number with prickly pear syrup, cream and club soda, garnished with sprinkles; another favorite is the Chai Soda with chai tea concentrate syrup, cinnamon, orange juice, coconut milk and club soda. “All people deserve wonderful experiences when they go out to eat,” she says. “That’s why we do it – to feel pampered, to have a different experience.”
Bon Bon, 804 Pennsylvania St., Lawrence, Kansas, 785.856.2275, bonbonlawrence.com