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The Best Mocktails To Order At A Bar In 2024

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Tessa ZuluagaAuthor

What is the most popular non-alcoholic drink?

“The first week of the New Year presents a ton of challenges for bar and restaurant owners. There is none bigger than Dry January,” said Pat Light. 

Pat Light, founder of The Light Group, went viral on TikTok for claiming that on January 2nd, 2024, his bar in Hoboken, NJ had zero dollars in sales. He went on to acknowledge that this wasn’t a frequent occurrence and that many factors could have contributed to it. However, he pointed out that until he’d started in the industry he’d never thought how slow business could be for restaurants and bars at the beginning of each year. 

He told Toast: 

“Historically, this first week of the New Year is one of the slowest of the year, but bills don't change for us. Rent is still due, insurance is still due, salaries are still due. However, a well-run business should survive one bad week. My main concern is my staff, and slow weeks can often make for very difficult times for bartenders and servers. With fewer people coming out, bartenders and servers are sometimes not making enough to support themselves." 

The term, “Dry January” has been trending all over the internet since the start of the new year. Essentially, this means a month of no alcohol. Limiting alcohol consumption can be a healthy practice – but it often means bar’s business decreases. 

How can guests achieve their healthy New Year’s resolutions while still supporting local bars that rely on their business? This is where mocktails come into play. 

In this article, we’ll:

  • Define “Dry January” 

  • Break down the importance of both selling and buying mocktails

  • List the top 15 mocktails to order at a bar

  • Provide examples of bars that are already succeeding in the non-alcoholic space

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What is a mocktail?

A mocktail is a non-alcoholic drink that is as desirable-looking as a regular cocktail. With mocktails you can get all the fun flavor while remaining sober. Sometimes you just want a little drink without having an actual drink. 

Why do guests order mocktails?

From an industry standpoint, the concept of a mocktail might sound bizarre. But remember, a bar doesn’t sell alcohol, it sells experiences. Your guests can still enjoy their night at your bar or lounge even with a mocktail. Guests order mocktails for a variety of reasons. 

Here are some of the most common ones:

Sobriety 

For many different purposes, some people are completely sober. Adding mocktails to your menu gives people who live a sober lifestyle something fun to still order at a bar. Offering non-alcoholic beverages means offering something for all your guests. 

“Dry” months

According to Time, “Dry January—a month-long feat to be sober—officially launched as a campaign in 2013 under the organization Alcohol Change UK, though the practice has roots that extend as far back as 1942, when Finland had their own “Sober January” to help in the war against the Soviet Union.” 

Essentially months like “Dry January” are when people do not drink alcohol for a month as a cleanse.  Avoid a loss in sales during these months by offering non-alcoholic options. 

Health concerns

Consuming alcohol or overconsuming it can be unhealthful. For more information check out this article by the CDC, and to to get help here call 1-800-662-4357. 

Hangovers

Sometimes you just overdo it the night before and can’t stomach a drink the next day. You can use this to your business’s advantage if you’re open for brunch – consider offering mocktails as “hangover cures”. 

A 2018 study found that a beverage containing A. keiskei juice, green grape juice, or pear juice may help to relieve hangover symptoms. 

Why should bars/restaurants offer mocktails?

Interest in Dry January jumped by a staggering 259% in 2023, as compared to 2022. This trend is most popular with Gen Z, as 75% of Gen Z adults aged 21-24 are at least ‘somewhat likely’ to participate in Dry January in 2024. Because of this preference, nightlife activities/businesses should consider catering to a wider variety of tastes – aka, non-alcoholic options.

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Top 15 best mocktails to order at a bar

Without further ado, here are 15 mocktails every bar should offer. Most of these drinks will be of no additional cost to your bar, as they include all the ingredients of classic cocktails – aside from the liquor. 

Shirley Temple

Let’s start at our roots with a good ol’ Shirley Temple! 
Here’s how to make it: 

  • Ginger ale or lemon-lime soda

  • Grenadine

  • Maraschino cherry for garnish 

Virgin Mojito

Mojitos are a delicious, refreshing option if you’re a cocktail lounge that has mint leaves behind the bar. 
Here’s how to make it:  

  • Fresh mint leaves

  • Lime juice

  • Simple syrup

  • Club soda

  • Lime wedge and mint sprig for garnish

Arnold Palmer 

If your guests are avoiding the Long Islands tonight suggest a simple Arnold Palmer. 
Here’s how to make it:

  • Iced tea

  • Lemonade

  • Lemon slice for garnish

Virgin mule

A mule is most commonly made as a Moscow Mule with vodka. However, a mule in itself is quite simple. 
Here’s how to make it:

  • Ginger beer

  • Lime juice

  • Simple syrup

  • Mint leaves and/or lime for garnish

Roy Rogers

For those Coca Cola lovers, recommend a Roy Rogers. 
Here’s how to make it: 

  • Cola

  • Grenadine

  • Maraschino cherry for garnish

No tequila sunrise 

I’ll take a sunrise – hold the tequila! Making a non-alcohol tequila sunrise is simple, here’s how:

  • Orange juice

  • Grenadine

  • Orange slice for garnish

Soda, cran, lime

Sticking to the basics is sometimes your best option. 
Here’s how to make a soda, cran, lime:

  • Cranberry juice

  • Club soda

  • Lime wedge for garnish

Pro tip: when making a basic drink consider putting it in a fun cocktail glass. It makes it a little bit fancier. 

N/A beers

Every bar should consider offering at least one non-alcoholic beer. Some options include:

  • Heineken 0.0: A non-alcoholic version of the classic Heineken beer.

  • Clausthaler Original: A German brand known for its non-alcoholic beer with a malty flavor.

  • Beck's Blue: The non-alcoholic version of Beck's beer, offering a crisp and refreshing taste.

  • Erdinger Weissbier Alkoholfrei: A non-alcoholic wheat beer with fruity and yeasty notes.

  • Athletic Brewing Co. Upside Dawn Golden Ale: A craft non-alcoholic beer with a light and malty profile.

Ginger Cran

Another simple solution during a dry period is a ginger cran. Here’s how to make it:

  • Ginger ale

  • Cranberry juice

  • Lime wedge for garnish

Virgin marg

Everybody loves a margarita! Here’s how to make a non-alcoholic one:

  • Lime juice

  • Splash of orange juice

  • Simple syrup

  • Topped with soda water 

  • Salt for rimming (optional)

  • Lime wedge for garnish

Club soda with lemon

Keep your guests hydrated with a classic club soda with lemon or lime. 
If you couldn’t tell, here’s what you need:

  • Club soda

  • Lemon wedge for garnish

Virgin pina colada

If you like pina coladas…consider making virgin ones too. Here’s how:

  • Pineapple juice

  • Coconut milk or coconut cream

  • Pineapple chunks (optional)

  • Crushed ice

  • Orange slice and maraschino cherry for garnish 

Juice smash

For a more creative drink offer any type of juice smash on your menu. Here’s how to make it: 

  • Assorted fruit juices (e.g., orange, pineapple, cranberry)

  • Muddled fruit and/or herbs 

  • Sprite or soda

  • Fresh fruit slices for garnish

No Paloma

A good Paloma is an underrated cocktail and an even more underrated mocktail. 
Here’s how to make it: 

  • Grapefruit juice

  • Lime juice

  • Agave syrup

  • Club soda

  • Grapefruit slice or lime for garnish

Virgin Bloody Mary

If you don’t prebatch your bloody mary mix with booze, you can easily offer a virgin bloody on your brunch drink menu
Here’s how: 

  • Tomato juice

  • Lemon juice

  • Worcestershire sauce

  • Hot sauce (optional)

  • Celery salt

  • Black pepper

  • Celery stalk and lemon wedge for garnish

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Bars for Mocktail Inspiration

Now that you know some basic mocktails to either sell or order at a bar, here are the top bars that are successfully selling mocktails. These examples may sell the drinks listed above but also excel in their own unique craft mocktail or elixir creation. We recommend also visiting them in person to get your creative juices flowing!  

1. Hekate Café & Elixir Lounge

Hekate is an intimate sober bar and specialty tea shop fueled by feminine energy, located in the East Village of Manhattan. It’s the only one of its kind in NYC. Hekate is designed for those who seek the alchemy of herbal elixirs. It’s a convivial community place for anyone who might appreciate an alternative to bars. It’s also extremely cool inside and has the friendliest staff. 
Curious about what they serve? Check out these seasonal offerings:

  • Alchemistress - Pentire Seaward, Blueberry Basil Simple Syrup, lemon juice & seltzer

  • The Healer - Apothekary’s Blue Me Away, lemon juice, Lavender Simple  Syrup & seltzer

2. Umbrella Dry Bar

Umbrella Dry Bar is a non-alcoholic bar located in Raleigh, NC. This is the perfect spot for anyone starting their wellness journey or path towards sobriety. At Umbrella Dry Bar you can experience the familiarity of a craft cocktail bar and retail bottle shop — without the alcohol. 
Check out their offerings:

  • Ghia Ginger - Aperitivio with ginger beer for an extra long, slow, and calm ginger burn. 

  • Ghia Lime & Salt - Crisp and salty like a refreshing dip in the Mediterranean. This bitter Aperitivio is spritzed with tart citrus and a dash of sea salt bubbles. 

3. Sans Bar 

Sans Bar is the first non-alcoholic bar located in Austin, TX. Since 2017, they’ve been serving the central Texas community with premium alcohol-free cocktails, proving that socializing can be vibrant and enjoyable without alcohol.  Beyond the bar scene, Sans is a community. They host virtual happy hours that focus on light topics. 
Some of their offerings include:

  • Basil Paloma 

  • Nada Colada 

  • Gold Fashion

Set your bar up for success, every month of the year

The increasing popularity of "Dry January," particularly among the younger generation, underscores the need for nightlife businesses to diversify their offering. However, mocktails can provide a valuable avenue for guests to maintain their healthy resolutions while still supporting local bars. Restaurant businesses should consider adding mocktails to their menu to keep sales up even during “dry” months. And if you’re a guest, remember to support your local businesses even if you’re in your sober era, and tip your bartender! 

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