My bar shelf at home is like the ruins of Rome, with each bottle gathering more dust than the next, that represent the different eras of cocktails that I was interested in. Zero-Proof Cocktails, which are alcohol-free, recently piqued my interest and they almost make me regret buying the untouched bottle St. Germain that stands loud and proud.
Zero-Proof Cocktails are a new hip trend that is spearheaded by a vanguard of classy bartenders including Dave Arnold and if it’s good enough for him then it is good enough for me. He has even indoctrinated me with not calling these drinks “mocktails.” Having a complex and interesting drink isn’t trying to imitate something else so why have the root word “mock” in it?
The search results for Zero-Proof Cocktail Recipes are disappointing. The recipes that I yielded in an hour were either uninteresting, Tom Collins varations, or coffee based. In my darkest (and only) hour of research, when I was about to close the tab in the browser, a glimmer of hope crested over the horizon with instructions that included Chamomile Tea.
The past couple of weeks I have been enjoying loose leaf tea. This is a great opportunity. Experimenting with tea would easily justify the 7 bags I bought with my first trip to the tea store. Lately with each sip I knew deep down that something has been missing then I remembered that I am a sofware developer; how can you really enjoy something new unless you use it as a base ingredient in an experiment with other new discoveries?
After I have proven the “full stack” of Zero-Proof Tea Cocktails then I can just see myself 5 months from now:
Do you remember when I used to drink loose leaf tea like a Philistine…by itself?!
Here is the recipe I landed on:
- Meyer Lemon and Blackberry Simple Syrup - 1⁄4 cup
- Spearmint Loose Leaf Tea - 2 tsp
- Hot Water - 3⁄4 of a mug
Meyer Lemon and Blackberry Simple Syrup
- Get a small saucepan and combine the following:
- 1⁄4 cup sugar
- 1⁄4 cup water
- 1 lemon - squeeze the juice
- 6 blackberries - mash them in the pan
- Turn up heat to boiling and stir often to ensure sugar doesn’t burn
- After you think that the sugar is dissolved (1-2 minutes in boiling water) then turn down the heat to simmer for 10 minutes
Make the drink
- Steep tea for 3 minutes in the mug with the hot water
- Strain 1⁄4 cup simple syrup and pour in mug
- Add more to make sweeter
- NOTE: This ends-up with less than 1⁄4 liquid. The seeds take up a lot of volume.
For a low-proof variation on this recipe, add in 7 drops of lemon bitters. I this variation because I don’t like things to be too sweet.
Pro tip: Don’t be worried about a bad bitter aftertaste; it rounds the drink out. The stunning woman whom I married steers clear of bitters but she enjoyed the drink with the dashes of bitters.
I am quite pleased with how well the drink turned out. The ingredients and amounts were complete guesses.
Nevertheless, here are the areas that can be improved:
- Less simple syrup; the drink is too sweet.
- Determine best way to create lemon simple syrup. Zest the lemon? Does throwing the lemon rind in make it better?
- Find the spiritual successor to the Chef Watson Beta test to discover strange new pairings of flavors.