You're on a business trip, having a night out with friends, or you're simply not drinking during this time in your life. Whatever the reason, no matter the season, sometimes you don't want to get a nudge to grab a drink from whoever you're with — no matter how well-meaning they might be. But a mocktail will keep those nudges (and hangovers) at bay. Dip your toes into these mocktails to order at a bar.
Mocktails to Order at a Bar
It's easy enough to turn a classic or popular cocktail into a nonalcoholic treat at most bars. You'll find that most are more than accommodating when it comes to skipping the booze and sipping a zero-proof drink instead.
Simple Mocktail Bar Orders
Great news! Many bars are growing their zero-proof menus. So it's super easy to order off preset mocktail menu. You can also ask for other simple things, such as:
- Soda + lime — A nice glass of soda water plus a squeeze of lime
- Soda + bitters + lemon — A glass of soda with a few dashes of bitters and a lemon garnish
- Shirley Temple — A bit on-the-nose, but every barkeep knows how to make one
- Arnold Palmer — Equal parts iced tea and lemonade
- Sparkling lemonade — Lemonade with a spritz or two of club soda for some sparkle
- Fruit spritzer — Club soda, ginger ale, or lemon-lime soda with a splash of fruit juice (we like pineapple juice and ginger beer or cranberry juice and club soda)
- Non-alcoholic beer or wine — Most bars have these available
Easy Virgin Cocktails
You can also ask them to mix you a nonalcoholic version of the cocktails they make every day.
- Virgin mojito — Minty, refreshing, and just the right amount of sour
- Nonalcoholic basil smash — For bars with fresh basil on hand, muddle basil, squeeze in lime juice, and fill with soda
- Mocktail bloody Mary — Yes, you can still dress it up with all the garnishes that you desire
- Virgin mimosa — Orange juice with sparkling cider or white grape juice
- Berry smash — Muddled fresh fruit and lemonade or limeade
- Nonalcoholic piña colada — Order it blended or on the rocks
- Zero-proof margarita — Most bars can make non-alcoholic versions of all their margarita flavors
- Mocktail mule — Spiced ginger beer + lime juice
Tips for Ordering Mocktails and Nonalcoholic Drinks
If you're new to the mocktail game, are shy about going off menu, or just don't know how to broach the subject with your bartender or server, I've got the tips and tricks as someone who has been on both sides of the ordering and the making.
- If you don't want others to know you aren't drinking, you can privately ask your server or bartender to make your drink look like an alcoholic dupe. Plenty of times as a server in Boston, I've had guests approach me, let me know they're pregnant but can't tell friends yet, so they'd like a club soda with a splash of cranberry but to serve it how a vodka soda with cranberry would be served. I let her know that hers would always be served with an orange slice so she'd know it was free of booze.
- In addition to mocktail menus, more and more bars and restaurants are starting to offer nonalcoholic spirits. So even if they don't have a mocktail menu, you can still order that zero-proof gin and tonic or nonalcoholic bourbon old-fashioned.
- Don't overthink it. I've never once thought twice when someone ordered a mocktail or nonalcoholic beer. If anything, I'm delighted because that's one less guest I need to worry about overdrinking.
- If there's no mocktail menu, order your mocktail how you'd order a cocktail and focus on the flavors you do want: cranberry juice, fizzy, and a little tart. Or maybe you want sweet and citrusy. Whatever it is, let them know the vibe and flavors you like!
- You can still enjoy the bubbly! Instead of prosecco in those fizzy cocktails, opt for club soda or ginger ale instead.
Leave the Alcohol on the Shelf
There's no shame in the mocktail game. Some nights, I'm not feeling like having a drink at home while making dinner or when I'm out hanging with my friends. What I really want is a fancy liquid treat in my hand, and these mocktails do exactly that. So belly up to the bar and order your happy hour zero-proof treat. Cheers!