During my first year in recovery, I noticed that many holiday parties and social functions have a serious lack of non-alcoholic drink options. It’s not uncommon for the beverage menu at your typical adult get-together to consist of at least half a dozen different kinds of beer, wine, and liquor… with soda and bottled water as the only alternatives.
I would be sipping my slightly warm can of Cherry Coke while looking around at all of the brightly colored cocktails and fruity frozen drinks that everyone else was sipping on, and get a bad case of cocktail envy. Not envious of the alcohol my drink was lacking (ok, maybe for that too) but for all of the delicious flavors and stylish aesthetics that make great cocktails.
Fortunately, I happen to know a little bit about mixology — I racked up a lot of hands-on experience while working as a bartender in my early twenties. I began collecting recipes for non-alcoholic drinks (what the hipsters call mock-cocktails, or “mocktails” ). I experimented with different ingredients, whipped up a lot of drinks for my family and friends, and learned through trial and error.
All of the five mocktails on this list are extremely easy to make as well as inexpensive in cost. Each drink has a taste distinctly different from the other four, but they are all drinks that embody the essence of the holiday season. And most importantly, I specifically chose recipes that always get a lot of positive feedback.
1. Cranberry Pomegranate Mocktail With Mint
This refreshingly light and carbonated drink is the perfect amount of tart. I’m not sure why cranberries and Christmas go so well together, but they just do. Not only is this drink full of antioxidants and vitamins, but it’s also low in calories (about 60 per serving).
Note: The recipe calls for Ocean Spray Cranberry Pomegranate Juice, but if you have trouble finding that at the store, you can easily mix up some yourself. Just combine 2 cups of cranberry juice (100% juice, not cranberry cocktail) and one 1 cup pomegranate juice.
Ingredients (serves 8):
3 cups Ocean Spray Cranberry Pomegranate juice
6 cups club soda
1/4 cup mint leaves
1/4 cup cranberries (fresh or frozen)
Seeds from 2 pomegranates (put ⅓ of the seeds aside for garnish)
1 lime, cut into wedges
A handful of whole cranberries
Remaining pomegranate seeds
Add cranberry pomegranate juice, club soda, and 2 cups of ice to a pitcher and stir to combine. Squeeze the juice from 3 limes and add to the pitcher. Add mint leaves, cranberries, and ⅔ of your pomegranate seeds into the pitcher and stir. Pour juice mixture into stemless wineglasses (or rocks glasses) filled with ice. Place a few fresh cranberries and a few pomegranate seeds into each glass as a garnish, along with a wedge of lime and a sprig of mint.
2. Virgin Bloody Mary
Bloody Mary’s are always a real crowd pleaser and are a classic holiday party choice year after year for some. Individual preferences for this popular drink can vary a lot from person to person. I’d describe this recipe as flavorful and zesty but not over-the-top spicy. Those who want more heat can add more Tabasco or other preferred spice to their individual drink after.
Ingredients (serves 8–10):
48 ounce can of tomato juice (can substitute with V-8 or Clamato)
3 tablespoons horseradish
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 1/4 teaspoons celery salt
3 teaspoons garlic salt
Tabasco sauce to taste (start with 4–5 good dashes)
A few dashes of ground black pepper
A small container of cherry tomatoes
Mix the tomato juice, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, celery salt, garlic salt, and black pepper in a large pitcher. Season with Tabasco sauce to taste. Use a lemon wedge to moisten each glass's rim, and then dip the glass onto a small plate covered in kosher salt. Fill each glass to the top with ice. Pour mix over ice until full and garnish with a celery stick and half of a cherry tomato.
If you really want to up the ante for your holiday festivity this year, consider setting up a make-your-own Virgin Bloody Mary bar with all of the fixings. Prepare the drink mix as directed above and keep it in the refrigerator until ready to serve. I think the best way to set up your fixings bar is to create three mini “stations”.
Station One: Put your large glasses (or mason jars) filled with ice and the pitcher of drink mix here when it’s time to serve.
Station Two: This is where guests can customize the taste of their drink to their preference. Put out as many different types of spices, seasonings, and sauces as you’d like. You can leave some spices or sauces in their original containers and put others in small condiment dishes with spoons — use your judgment. I’ve listed some suggestions, but feel free to use anything you want.
Ideas for Seasonings/Sauces:
Old Bay seasoning
Frank’s Red Hot sauce
Station Three: Finally, the most important part of your Bloody Mary Bar — the garnishes! Nothing is too over-the-top. Think appetizers in a glass. Get creative. Put out skewer sticks, napkins, and small plates (because people will always want to take a few fixings on the side!)
Ideas for Garnishes:
Kosher pickle spears
Slices of bacon
Beef jerky sticks
Small chunks of steak
3. Grinch Punch
This non-alcoholic green punch is named after Christmas’s most notorious bad boy and is an extremely popular drink with the kiddos. (In fact, if serving a lot of little ones, you may want to purchase 2 of each ingredient in case you need to make a second batch.)As a rule, when it comes to choosing a holiday drink menu, you can never go wrong with a punch — and with only five simple ingredients, this recipe couldn’t be any easier to make.
Ingredients (serves 10–12):
½ gallon lime sherbert
2-liter bottle of lemon-lime soda*
1 gallon of Hawaiian Punch- Green Berry Rush flavor*
46 oz can of pineapple juice (not concentrated)*
*Refrigerate before using
Combine the chilled soda, Hawaiian punch, and pineapple juice in a large punch bowl. Moisten the rim of each punch cup or glass with water and then dip onto a plate of red sugar until the rim is evenly coated. Carefully add scoops of sherbet into the punch bowl immediately before serving.
Make a Grinch inspired snack to serve with your punch. Pinterest has hundreds of good recipes for Grinch-inspired food, like this one for Grinch Popcorn from Twin Sisters Crafting. You can also find lots of fun arts and crafts projects that will help keep the kids entertained.
4. Sparking Raspberry Pear Mocktail
This fizzy and fun mocktail mimics the taste of a champagne spritzer, with just the right amount of syrupy sweetness. It’s the perfect drink to use for a celebratory midnight toast on New Year’s Eve but can add a hint of sophistication to any type of special occasion. For a very classy presentation, I recommend serving in disposable champagne flutes (like these sparkly ones I found on Amazon).
Ingredients (serves 4):
1 fresh pear, peeled and sliced
20 fresh raspberries
3 tbsp sugar
1–2 cups 100% pear juice, chilled
1 can of Dasani Sparkling Water in Berry flavor, chilled
12 fresh raspberries
Mash the pears with the 20 raspberries and sugar in a medium bowl with a fork. (The mixture will be chunky, this is fine.) Divide the mixture up evenly and scoop a portion into each champagne flute. Fill each flute to the halfway point with the pear juice and then fill to the top with Dasani sparkling water. Drop 3 raspberries whole into each drink for a garnish.
5. Crockpot Peppermint White Hot Chocolate
This hot mocktail is the DIY at-home version of Starbucks’ legendary Peppermint White Hot Chocolate. It’s the perfect holiday indulgence, and I guarantee that you will want to make this delicious treat a new holiday tradition. This thick and rich-tasting dessert drink requires minimal preparation — just throw all the ingredients in your crockpot and let cook for 2 hours on low. (Plus, yay, it’s pink!)
Ingredients: (serves 6)
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
14oz can sweetened condensed milk
6 cups of milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3 1/2 cups of white chocolate chips
1/2 cup of crushed candy canes
Crushed candy canes
Add all ingredients into the crockpot, mix well. Leave on low for 2 hours. Pour into mugs or mason jars. Top with whipped cream and crush candy cane pieces. Can also use whole candy canes as a garnish/stir stick.
One Last Thing
Please be safe this holiday season. Use your best judgment and follow recommendations in regards to social distancing and gathering size. If you do drink, please don’t drive! Happy Holidays!