Fix staffers and writers got together on Monday afternoon to taste-test a batch—10 batches, to be accurate—of inventive non-alcoholic holiday beverages, from drinkable desserts like the "hot apple pie" to zingy bolts of refreshment like the ginger-jalapeno mocktail. As they say, there is no accounting for taste—so we had each Fixie score each drink, and provide a few "tasting notes" as well. Click through the following slides to see which we liked best, and which—not so much.
Ingredients: 1/2 Meyer lemon Sugar Sage leaves Salt Seltzer
Cut the half-lemon into quarters and muddle with a pinch of salt and one tablespoon of sugar in the bottom of a glass. Add four sage leaves to the mixture, and muddle again to release the sage’s aroma. Divide into four glasses, add ice, top with seltzer and stir.
Tasting notes: “Nice but a little salty; tastes like the forest.” “Bleakly medicinal—surely the kiss of death for any sober holiday party.”
Ingredients: Pear nectar Maple syrup Hot water Cocoa powder
Heat pear nectar in the microwave or on the stove. Moisten hot mug rims, and dip in cocoa powder. Divide pear nectar into mugs, and add a small shot of maple syrup to each. Dilute the remaining mixture with hot water, to taste.
Tasting notes: “Real good. Yum city. Too sweet as-is, but would be nice with hot water and a fireplace.” “A caramel hit, but not a stayer.”
Ingredients: 2 rosemary springs 1 oz. peach nectar 1 oz. white cranberry juice 1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice 1/2 oz. simple syrup 1 oz. chilled club soda
Combine one rosemary sprig, peach nectar, white cranberry juice, lemon juice, simple syrup and ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake well and strain into ice-filled glasses. Stir in the club soda and garnish with a rosemary sprig.
Tasting notes: “Tastes sherbert-y, like Champagne punch.” “Sweet, syrupy and pleasurable—in small doses.”
Muddle together one sliver each of jalapeno and fresh ginger (or more, for an even spicier drink). Divide into glasses and add ice and a shot of ginger syrup to each. Top with seltzer, stir, and garnish with lime and the butt-end of a jalapeno.
Tasting notes: “A satisfying kick to the back of the tongue.” “I could drink this all night long. My mouth is on fire, but I like that.”
Ingredients: 4 oz. apple cider 1 oz. sage and juniper syrup (see below) 1 oz. fresh lemon juice Ginger beer
Sage and juniper syrup 1 cup sugar 1 cup water 5 fresh sage leaves 10 juniper berries
To make the syrup: Combine the sugar, water, sage and juniper berries in a saucepan. Heat until the sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally, and let sit 10 minutes before straining into a glass container. Keep refrigerated for up to a month.
To make the drinks: In a cocktail shaker, combine the cider, syrup, lemon juice and ice, and shake briefly. Strain into four ice-filled glasses and top with ginger beer; stir.
Tasting notes: “Da bomb! Manifold and manly—like its name.” “At last—a mocktail for adults: subtle, questioning and complex.”
Many thanks to sober bartender Janelle Best for mixing the drinks, and to her boss Felice Kirby, owner of Teddy's Bar and Grill in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, who helped Janelle brainstorm a few of these recipes. And thanks to writer Sue Smith for the billboard photo for this story.
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