The first clue is in the name: these drinks are a “mock” of our beloved “cocktails”. However, the difference between a cocktail and a mocktail is not merely in the absence of alcohol; a mocktail needs to either re-establish the balance of its flavours in order to refashion the essence of the original, or to present something brand-new. To do this, a skilled mixologist can use juices and bitters, but also fruits, vegetables and spices.
“The demand for mocktails is growing. They constitute cocktails in their own right and a complete culture stands behind them,” states Massimo D’Addezio from the Chorus Cafè in Via della Concilazione in Rome. He continues, “many customers are very aware of calories and ingredients and know exactly what they want to drink.” The lookout for healthy alternatives is a fundamental aspect of these drinks. In fact, the absence of alcohol in mocktails is an important step towards this goal, which is also sustained by the presence of fruits, vegetables and fresh juices. And it is so that the alcohol-free Negroni uses grape juice in the place of Vermouth and sports caffeine free green tea and berries. The Gin component is then replaced by an alcohol-free alternative such as Seedlip 94, which is a pleasantly spiced drink produced by one of the companies which is experimenting on this front and which has successfully created the first alcohol-free spirit. This kind of operation is fairly common: traditional bitters are being substituted by bitter-tasting syrups. The number of companies that is taking on the ingredients needed for mocktails is on the rise. Initially, peas and hay were used to create the first successful result: a mixture of rosemary, thyme, mint, barley, peas and hay, cardamom, lemon, allspice and grape peel.
“Just like traditional cocktails, mocktails are also aiming for the perfect drink, the custom-fit one,” continues D’Addezio, the tailor of cocktails, “the blended drink, even in its alcohol-free version, will necessarily have to be tailor-made.” One of the most famous mocktails is Shirley Temple, a drink which uses ginger ale and grenadine syrup as its base, and, replacing the ginger ale with coke gives life to another famous mocktail, the Roy Roger. Mocktails have existed long before their name has, but they were called “virgin” or “punch”. Their new-found name, however, does come with an increase of their dignity and of attention received in the world of mixology.