Mocktails seem to be the newest buzzing trend. For some, the trend may be short-lived, like planning to give up alcohol during lent or Dry January. While for others, either due to excess consumption, health reasons, cost, or other factors, younger generations are leaning towards alcohol-free alternatives as the new normal.
Mocktails, non-alcoholic cocktails, are not just trendy but seem here to stay.
Decreasing alcohol consumption has known health benefits, improving heart, mental and overall health.
The younger generations actively choose non-alcoholic beverages over alcoholic ones.
The 1930s saw the rise of the famous mocktail, the Shirley Temple. Today, tons of recipes abound.
Mocktails and their origins
Alcohol-related deaths rank third in preventable causes in the U.S. But alcohol consumption triggers more than just measurable deaths; it contributes to disability, mental illness, and more. Today’s younger generations recognize the health risks; some are modifying behaviors to prevent themselves from becoming a statistic.
Sure, many drinks are non-alcoholic; think coffee, tea, juices, and more. But the word mocktail conjures thoughts of a Shirley Temple, a cocktail sans alcohol. However, in 2022, we can see that there is much more to it than that.
Origin of the Mocktail
A cocktail, according to Merriam-Webster, is a “usually iced drink of wine or distilled liquor mixed with flavoring ingredients” or “something resembling or suggesting such a drink as being a mixture of often diverse elements or ingredients” or “a mixture of agents usually in a solution that is taken or used especially for medical treatment or diagnosis.” Think of a mocktail as all of this simply without the wine or other alcoholic flavoring.
Mocktails have come a long way since the early 1900s when they were first revealed in society. Merriam-Webster first mentioned this type of drink in 1916, and the ever-familiar Shirley Temple began making news in the 1930s. Mocktails or zero-proof drinks provide a mix of flavors, fruits, spices, and even garnishes, without alcohol. They allow those who abstain from alcohol use for personal, medical, or other reasons to still partake in socialization and maintain a sense of belonging without consuming the alcohol. An added bonus is no risk of a hangover the next morning if one drinks too many.
If you think about it, many Mocktails may already be familiar, including the most notable Shirley Temple and the Virgin Piña Coladas, Mojitos, Daquiris, and Margaritas. So, why a Shirley Temple? The actress, only a child in the prime of her acting career, couldn’t drink. A Beverly Hills bartender invented the mocktail for her, which later became a non-alcoholic drink for all ages. What is in a Shirley Temple? You take three ounces of ginger ale and three ounces of a lemon-lime type soda and put that in a glass with some ice cubes. Then you flavor with a dash of grenadine, topping it with a maraschino cherry.
Dry January, now a household term, event, or challenge for many, has its roots in Europe dating back to the 1940s, starting as Sober January. It morphed and evolved. It became a public health initiative trademarked in 2014 thanks to Alcohol ChangeUK, a company out of the United Kingdom. Now it is a common practice all across Europe and the United States. This British charity started a challenging trend in which millions participate annually.
Alcohol Concern developed its Dry January campaign to help encourage people to improve their health and initiate behavior change. They hope to help people have fun while remaining sober. It isn’t meant as a detox but simply focuses on those who drink a bit too much or more often than is ideal and do not appreciate the negative health impacts. The concept has people not imbibing alcohol throughout January, the start of the New Year. Since its inception, Dry January has encouraged mocktails’ development, and the demand continues to rise.
Whether you stop drinking for a month to see if you feel better, lose some weight or improve your mental focus, one month without alcohol can improve negative health outcomes. While the goal is not complete abstinence from drinking after the month ends, a small percentage of people may elect to continue to do so. Others may realize the health benefits, feel better, see that they previously drank excessively, and return to drinking more responsibly and conservatively.
Benefits of decreasing alcohol consumption
Alcohol has known health risks when consumed in moderate quantities over time. Short-term risks of alcohol use may include vehicle accidents or various injuries; violence; lead to risky behaviors, and contribute to pregnancy complications. While long-term health risks include cardiovascular problems like high blood pressure and heart disease. Further ill-health effects include cancer (e.g., breast, mouth, colon), memory and learning troubles, anxiety, and even depression, to name a few.
Studies looking at the benefits of decreasing or ceasing alcohol compensation are plentiful. Some, such as a 2018 study by Mehta et al., discuss short-term benefits, including improved blood pressure, body weight, insulin resistance, and even a decrease in some growth factors common in certain cancers. Further studies are needed to determine long-term benefits and how long these effects last if alcohol consumption resumes, even at a lower rate.
Mocktail health benefits
Because of the negative consequences, long-term alcohol consumption can create in the body, including negative effects on the brain, heart, liver, pancreas, and immune system, lessening one’s consumption can benefit one’s overall health and quality of life. Therefore, there could be beneficial health benefits to cutting out alcohol use.
Those who no longer drink alcohol but used to regularly may appreciate an overall gain in energy level and even lose weight. Some may have improved blood pressure regulation. By cutting out alcohol, one lessens the chance of liver disease, cancer risk, memory issues, and mood disorders, and can strengthen their immune system.
Mocktail health risks
Everything must be evaluated and taken in moderation. Be it with or without alcohol, drinking too many mocktails can negatively affect your health. Sugar-sweetened drinks and drinks with a lot of calories, just like beer, can add up. If you already have diabetes, are pre-diabetic, or have an increased risk of diabetes, obesity, or other ailments, check with your medical professional to see what mocktails may be safe for your consumption. Consider low-sugar options when making your mocktails if you are at risk for diabetes or dental problems. When heart disease and high blood pressure are concerns, go with low salt varieties.
What makes a great mocktail?
For some, making their mocktails or frequenting bars that serve unique recipes fits the bill. However, for others, lack of time or drive may make commercially available non-alcoholic cocktails a good choice. More and more alcoholic and non-alcoholic companies are creating these flavorful beverages for people to enjoy the drink without the kick.
How to make a great mocktail
Surprisingly there can be an almost art-like quality to formulating a mocktail. Flavor profiles help create complimentary flavors by mixing a variety of tastes to please the taste buds. You can make a delicious drink with a few easy steps by including components of the five fundamental tastes that our brains recognize. These main flavors include
- Bitter: Coffee, grapefruit, hops, and even cocoa can provide bitterness, imitating the alcoholic component in cocktails.
- Salty: For saltiness, consider simply adding sea salt. Or you can add olives, olive brine, or many other flavors. Adding salt can also help to bring out the flavors of other ingredients in the mix.
- Sour: Sourness is produced using acidic components such as tomato, vinegar, citrus flavors, and some vegetable juices.
- Spicy: For spiciness, consider wasabi (really hot), ginger, chili, or hot sauce. Adding spice can add that feeling of warmth some feel when drinking alcohol without the alcohol.
- Sweet: To add sweetness, consider using honey, fruit or fruit juice, maple syrup, or liquid molasses.
Mocktail mixing techniques
Several techniques can help make your mocktails great tasting and pleasantly smelling and create visual masterpieces. Including three skills in your drink mixers can help you make a masterful craft mocktail.
Components like fruits, citrus, and/or herbs are crushed in the bottom of a glass to release juices and taste. This process is known as muddling. You’ll need a cup, a muddler, or another similar utensil to muddle. Place all your ingredients into an empty glass and mash vigorously to unleash their juices. One frequently uses this technique with Mojitos.
Blending, though an art, can easily create tasty drinks. Combining ingredients with ice and blending makes a thick cool beverage. You get great flavor with minimal effort; you only need a blender.
The challenging process of layering involves piling several liquids on top of one another to produce an eye-catching layered appearance. You start by putting the heaviest liquids (those with the highest sugar content) at the bottom and layering from there. Some suggest taking an upside-down spoon, hovering it just above the liquid, and pouring the next layer on with care around the spoon. Repeat this step for all fluids slowly and carefully.
Mocktails, are they right for you?
Whether you are looking to cut back on your alcohol consumption, already do not drink but enjoy socializing, or are looking for something new to express your creativity, drinking or creating flavorful mocktails may be next on your to-do list. With mocktails, one can please the palate with varying flavors and decorations and may even help improve your overall health and well-being. Zero-proof (non-alcoholic) beverages seem here to stay.