Don’t you think spring should be the official start of the new year? Think about it: The snow has melted and things are starting to grow again (Flowers! Berries!). It’s like the world is waking up after a long winter hibernation.
What better way to knock the hibernation dust off than with some seasonal mocktails? We’re not talking about the old clichés, so banish all thoughts of sparkling water and cranberry juice. A true mocktail is a creative thing of beauty that celebrates the season and leaves you feeling refreshed.
Sometimes, the best mocktails are inspired by their spirited cousins. Margaritas are great as mocktails, because their citrusy flavors can easily be mimicked with non-alcoholic ingredients. Try using an alcoholic recipe as your base and substituting from there. This avocado margarita is a fun twist on the classic, highlighting the natural sweetness of avocado with orange and lime juice. You can make your own sour mix if you like, and replace the orange liqueur with a little orange juice and freshly squeezed lime juice. Want a fun tropical twist? Try pureeing a little mango in or muddle some lime with jalapeño slices for a spicy kick. Don’t forget to rim the glass in salt, tajín (chile and lime salt), or your favorite chamoy powder (a salty, spicy, tangy candy powder) for that salty kick margaritas are known for.
Iced tea? That’s so last century! Instead, make a matcha soda. This mocktail is a fun mash-up of the herbal, slightly bitter Japanese green tea and effervescent soda. When paired with a spicy sweet ginger simple syrup (like in this matcha ginger soda), these strong flavors balance each other, putting you into an invigorating, caffeinated state that no simple iced tea could ever hope to achieve. Making your own ginger simple syrup is as the name suggests. Bring equal parts sugar and water to a simmer, add a 5-inch chunk of peeled, roughly chopped ginger, and let cool. Boom! You have have syrup that lasts forever in the fridge, ready to meet your spring refreshment needs.
Perhaps the best part of spring are the new fruits and vegetables that start appearing in the markets. After a winter of apples, pears, and root vegetables, the thought of blueberries and apricots galore seems like a cause for celebration. And nothing says “Spring!” like fruit sorbet floats: scoops of your favorite store-bought (or homemade) seasonal fruit sorbet floated on top of sparkling water, juice, or soda. Picture a sweet and tart strawberry sorbet with a fiery ginger beer at the end of a long spring day at work that you would have rather spent outside. Or a creamy, bright apricot sorbet float, which you can make with fresh apricots, sugar, and sparkling water and lemon juice.
Or skip the sorbet completely and just make a fruit (or fruit and veg) smoothie. This fresh beet, pineapple, avocado, and orange smoothie gets it thickness from creamy, sweet avocado. Just blend, chill and enjoy whenever the mood calls. As the heat creeps up, you can check out this popular Israeli drink, limonana: a frozen drink made from lemonade, mint, and ice that’s so refreshing, you’ll wonder how you ever celebrated spring without it.
Just remember: The absence of alcohol doesn’t have to mean a lack of flavor or creativity. With seasonal ingredients, you can start your (spring) new year right by treating yourself to some refreshing new mocktails.