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There once was a time when going sober meant missing out on the good drinks. But with new alcohol-free options stronger than O’Doul’s and club soda—not to mention more attention being paid to mixing up mocktails by the pros—nonalcoholic drinks can be just as well-balanced, complex, and grown-up as their boozy counterparts. We asked Forget Me Not beverage director Nicole Lebedevitch (who makes some of the best nonalcoholic cocktails in town) how to make superb sober sips at home.
Balance it Out
Whether the cocktail is boozy or alcohol-free, Lebedevitch uses the same ratio to keep drinks well-balanced: two ounces of a base, like a nonalcoholic spirit (Seedlip, Dhōs Spirits, and BARE Zero Proof are bartender favorites) or soda water, three-quarters ounce of a juice or flavored simple syrup for sweetness, and three-quarters ounce of a sour, like lemon, lime, or grapefruit juice.
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Use What You’ve Got
“It’s the same philosophy as we have here—what’s around the house?” Lebedevitch says. “Frozen fruits you’d make a smoothie with, cucumbers. Most of us at this point have invested in a blender, juicer, a Ninja, whatever it is—those tools are super useful for a home bartender.” When you throw those fruits and vegetables into the blender, do what the Forget Me Not bartenders do and add a pinch of salt to extract even more flavor. And to preserve your fruits and vegetables longer, try making a simple syrup with them.
Play Around With Flavors
You know your favorite flavor combinations, so try to replicate those in your glass. Throw some cinnamon into your pear syrup when you put it on the stove, or add fresh ginger to your cucumber juice. “Flavors that have nostalgia really make it special,” Lebedevitch says.
Make it Fancy
Just because your cocktail isn’t full of vodka doesn’t mean it can’t look classy. Put your drink in a martini, coupe, highball, or heavy-bottomed rocks glass, and toss in an orange wedge or sprig of rosemary. You’re totally worth the extra effort. Using fancy glassware and garnishes “gives you a feeling of having a cocktail with your friends even when you’re not necessarily drinking,” Lebedevitch says.
Stock Up on Colorado Products
Load up on tart kombuchas from local companies like Rowdy Mermaid; CBD sparkling waters from Dram Apothecary; and sodas from Rocky Mountain Soda to up your at-home mocktail game. If you don’t want to bother with mixing, Denver-based Grüvi makes a full line of nonalcoholic beers and a trio of wines—because the sober and sober curious deserve an IPA, sangria sour weisse, and bubbly rosé, too. And for a canned cocktail minus the ABV, try Boulder-based jeng: hemp-infused sparkling cocktails in flavors like paloma and ginger with juniper.