LCBO on strike? Try a mocktail

Replace the gin in your gin and soda for a healthy, refreshing summer drink.

Now that summer is officially here, it’s time once again to enjoy cool refreshing drinks – and alcohol doesn’t have to be a part of it. There are more “mocktails” (mock cocktails) out there than you can possibly imagine, utilizing everything from muddled fruit, sparkling water and soda to fresh juices, infused syrups, herbs and flashy, tangy garnishes. There are versions to please every palate and taste. Here are some great ones.

Check out “Cuddles on the Beach”. Combine cranberry juice, grapefruit juice, peach nectar, ginger ale, tonic or mineral water in a tall glass filled with ice for a refreshing, sparkling sipper. Using tonic here will provide a nice counter bitterness to the sweetness of the fruit juice.

Mimosa fans will really dig the “Mockmosa”. In a Champagne glass, mix orange juice, sparkling white grape juice and garnish with a mint sprig for a delightful drink that’s as good as the alcoholic version.

Enter the “Nojita”! Place mint leaves, lime juice, and brown sugar in a cocktail glass and muddle the leaves. Then add club soda or sprite, ice, mix and garnish with a mint sprig. Yummy!

Say “buongiorno” to a “Bella Bellini”. This non-alcoholic, Venetian delight is divine. Place peach puree or nectar in the bottom of a Champagne flute. Squeeze in lemon juice and pour mineral water and sparkling white grape juice over top.

One of my faves is a “Cherry Coketail”. Pour cherry juice or syrup and vanilla extract into a rock glass filled with ice. Squeeze in lime juice and top up with cola.

Raspberry and lime are dynamite together, so check out the “Raspberry Lime Rickey”. Meld raspberry syrup and lime juice over ice and add sparkling or mineral water and a touch of sugar to taste. Garnish with raspberries and lime wedges for a zingy treat.

Here’s a goody… a “Spicy Watermelon Mint Agua Fresca”. Mix water, chopped and seeded watermelon, granulated sugar, lime, mint leaves, jalapeno and crushed ice. Puree, and pour through a strainer forcing through most of the pulp. Then simply chill and serve.

Ginger lovers will adore a “Ginger Fizz”.  Marry ice, ginger syrup, lime juice, sparking water and garnish with a lime wheel for a tasty winner.

Who doesn’t love a “Strawberry Daiquiri”? This tame version combines hulled strawberries, lemonade and crushed ice in a blender and poured in a glass garnished with a strawberry.

An “Iced Green Tea Elixir with Ginger and Lemon” is a cool, refreshing crowd pleaser. Mix Chinese green tea leaves, lemon juice, pomegranate and ginger syrup in a tall glass and garnish with mint leaves, lemon slices and pomegranate seeds.

Looking for a thirst quencher? Try an “Orange-Lime Relaxer”.  Over ice, pour orange juice, lime juice and Sprite. Float a lime wedge on top for some extra pizzazz.

Here are a few for the kids. A “Mint Choco Mocktail” will wow them. Combine chocolate mint ice cream, coconut cream, crushed ice, some Half and Half and chocolate syrup in a pitcher. Stir until smooth and serve immediately in a cocktail glass whose rim has been coated with chocolate syrup.

How about an “Italian Cream Soda”? Half fill a tall glass with ice and add some carbonated water. Then pour in watermelon and passion fruit syrup and top with some Half and Half. Stir and devour.

Complete recipes for all of these and many others can be found on the Internet. When making mocktails, utilize fancy glassware, special straws and little umbrellas for stylish, eye-popping presentations.

Edward Finstein is a wine writer, award-winning author, TV and radio host, educator, judge

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