Mocktails that Don’t Suck

Nolan Morehouse asks:

I want to make some mocktails. Any recipes that you recommend?

My response:


What I dislike about most mocktails is that they tend to be cloyingly sweet. What I tried to do with this list below is find complex mocktails with some bitter elements, herbal notes, and tartness, while staying away from the overly sweet things that people try to pass off as mocktails. The best real cocktails aren’t overly sweet, so the best mocktails shouldn’t be, either.

  1. Vinegar Shrubs –

  2. Pomegranate mulled ‘wine’ –

  3. Moscow Mule Mocktail – Add mint!

  4. French 75 Mocktail –

  5. Non-alcoholic Sangria –

  6. Non-Alcoholic mojito –

  7. Shisho Fine –

  8. Fig and Balsamic Soda –

  9. Non-alcoholic Rhubarb Lime Gimlet –

  10. Orange, Rosewater, and Mint Sparkler –

Nolan did a write up afterward of making a few of these mocktails! Here is Nolan:

I chose two from a list of mocktails Chuck gave me; They were the Moscow Mule and the vinegar shrubs.

First I started with the Moscow Mule. It used lime juice, ginger beer, and sparkling water, and I also bought a copper mug to serve it in. The drink was delicious and very sour, and the ginger made a great pairing with the lime. It was fun to make and GREAT to drink. Here’s how it turned out:
Next, I decided I’d make the shrubs too. I haven’t gotten to taste it yet because it’s still sitting in my fridge to form. It used blackberries, honey, and apple cider vinegar, and a mason jar to hold it. Making it was quick and easy, and I’m very excited to try it. Here’s how it looks so far:
Making them was a lot of fun, and makes me excited to continue making mocktails. Thanks for the list, Chuck!

How do I use Fernet Branca?

I’m starting a new column here on Cook Like Chuck. My friends ask me a lot of questions about food and drink, so I’m going to post some of my replies here. If you have any questions you’d like me to answer, send them to!

I made a poor decision and bought Fernet Branca. I’ve only been able to come up with one passable recipe and even that wasn’t amazing. Help! -Jonathan

Here is my response:

Fernet Branca is best consumed after dinner as a digestif, served neat in a small sherry or cordial glass. It takes some time to go through a bottle that way, and it takes some time to acquire the taste, but once you do it is exquisite. This is my preferred consumption method. Also, I’ll often order Fernet if I’m the DD because while it is ~40% alcohol, I can’t drink enough to get buzzed off of it. I just nurse it for a while and drive safely.

Three cocktails I like Fernet Branca in are the Midtown Manhattan, the Toronto, and the Decolletage.

The first two are in the Manhattan family and use Fernet in place of sweet vermouth, and both have something to sweeten it up and round out the bitter side of Fernet.

The Decolletage mixes three different amari with a briny backbone of reposado tequila. It is wonderful. I made myself one while I wrote this piece.

Here are the recipes:

You can also add a splash of Fernet to your hot chocolate! I’d probably add a few dashes of orange bitters, too. That’s how I roll.

If you want to try something really interesting, the folks over at Shaker and Spoon have a Valentine’s Day special going on with the Slippery Slopes cocktail from Sother Teague at Amor y Amargo. It has cold brew, hot cocoa mix, Fernet Branca, toasted coconut syrup, and a spritz of orange oil.

Send me your questions and I’ll do my best to answer them!