Memorial Day is right around the corner, so you’ll probably spend some of the weekend celebrating summer at home with friends and family. This, of course, means you’ll need plenty of food and drink. The food is easy: No backyard party is complete without barbecue of some sort—but what will you serve to drink?
Beer, wine, a signature cocktail? All sound good to us, but how about trying something new: Ease up on the heavy stuff and go the non-alcoholic route with a mocktail party! Mocktails are exactly what they sound like: mock cocktails. They’re festive, tasty drinks sans alcohol, and they’re a perfect alternative when guests want something cheerful and light to sip. And they’re quickly becoming the hit at parties.
According to NielsenIQ, sales of non-alcoholic beer, wine and cocktails have increased in recent years, with total dollar sales between August 2021 and August 2022 at $395 million in the U.S. alone. That’s equivalent to a 20 percent spike. And the market is expected to get larger, growing annually by 3.9 percent from 2023 to 2027.
But no one’s discussing numbers at your party—let’s get down to the taste. Just like you can ask a bartender to make any cocktail sweeter or more bitter, you can do the same with a mocktail so it fits a preferred flavor profile. And don’t just think you’re drinking fruit juice, as the more complicated recipes can require mixologists to extract flavors from ingredients like botanicals.
“Gone are the days of only being able to get Shirley Temples or a can of soda behind the bar,” says Jed Kessler, mixologist and owner of Fair Lawn-based entertainment company Jed’s Party Services. “I find customers want a variety of drinks and mocktails that are both refreshing and delicious.”
While pros like Kessler can develop a mocktail menu and serve drinks for you at your party, you can easily do it yourself with ingredients from your grocery and spirits stores. For instance, you can make and serve your friends these super-simple mocktails, courtesy of Kessler. P.S.: The kids will love them too!
- 1 ½ cups watermelon
- 2 to 3 slices of cucumber
- 1 lime, freshly squeezed
- 4 pieces mint
Blend and double strain watermelon; serve with cucumber and mint over ice with freshly squeezed lime juice.
- 8 oz. berry punch
- 2 oz. lemon-lime soda or seltzer
- 2 gummy worms
Combine berry punch with lemon-lime soda or seltzer; serve with gummy worms.
Tell us your favorite summer mocktail recipe on Instagram @njhomemag, and grab your copy of the brand-new Summer 2023 issue of NJ HOME, out now.