We've spent a lot of time recently waxing poetic about the season's best cocktails (this, this, and this). But there's plenty of room for creative (and refreshing) nonalcoholic beverages. Here, a short-list of our latest discoveries.
We spend plenty of hours holed up at the Weathervane Cafe (favorite table: two in from the front window) in Uptown. We usually go for the coffee or the tea, but lately it's the lavender lemonade that's caught our attention. Lavender is a finicky ingredient: Too much and it tastes like soap, too little and there's no discerning the floral, slightly minty essence. Weathervane's lemonade? Well, it hits just the right note—and it's ice-cold.
There's nothing more disappointing than ordering an horchata—a sweet and cinnamon-y drink crafted from rice, nuts, or seeds—and realizing after the first sip that it's come from a mix. This happens far too often, and those drinks are invariably sweet and thin. For the real deal, order the classic Mexican beverage at Comida Cantina, Rayme Rossello's ode to Mexican food. Here, the horchata is made by hand, and its milky decadence reminds one of rice pudding.
The egg cream may be most closely associated with Brooklyn soda fountains but the famously frothy drink is also mixed at Paris on the Platte. Keep it classic (seltzer, milk, and chocolate syrup), or stray from tradition by swapping in vanilla syrup for the chocolate. Either way, enjoy said drink on the outdoor patio.
P17 has a whole roster of mocktails that run from the sophisticated K Tizz Fizz (basil, orange, lemon, lime) to the vacation-worthy ginger colada. The latter combination of ginger ale, pineapple, and coconut milk imparts the flavor of a piña colada without the rummy punch.
Bonus: Restaurant critic Stacey Brugeman is a big fan of Tea Bar's tea sodas. Try the lemongrass herbal infusion.
The Weathervane Cafe, 1725 E. 17th Ave., 303-355-5863
Comida, 3350 Brighton Blvd., Unit 105, 303-296-2747; 721 Confidence Drive, Longmont, 720-204-6455
Paris on the Platte, 1553 Platte St., 303-455-2451
P17, 1600 E. 17th Ave., 303-399-0988
—Photo courtesy of Shutterstock