It might sound completely crazy, given that I’m a mixologist whose whole business is centered around making cocktails, but I have some breaking news for you:
The art of mixology is about more than just alcoholic cocktails.
In fact, it covers any kind of mixed drink, and there is some cool science surrounding no-proof (read: non-alcoholic) cocktails. I’d like to touch on a piece of science in honour of #Mocktober, (hosted by The Mocktail Project), a week of empowering folks with more mindful drinking.
Yeah, yeah, go ahead and make a joke about needing booze,
but what you might really need is something comforting that tastes great and feels like there’s a party in your mouth (and everyone’s invited).
The base of a great no-proof cocktail is going to be high-quality mixers that pack a punch.
And that “punch” is in the form of Trigeminal Effects
I could talk forrrreeevver about trigeminal effects, but because the topic is vast, I’ll get down to the brass tacks. In normal cocktails, the liquor creates “sting.” This sting is a chemical sensation in your mouth that is caused by the alcohol. When you talk about the burn in the back of your mouth and throat when you drink liquor, you are talking about that trigeminal sting.
And while that sting is essential to making a fantastic cocktail, there are other trigeminal effects that exist that you can use to make interesting no-proof cocktails.
Case in point: The “heat” of peppers, the pungency of ginger, the burn of cinnamon, and the bubbles in carbon dioxide (like the bubbles in soda), are all trigeminal effects (there are sooo many more!). They are picked up by your nervous system and really add to the mouthfeel, the complexity, and the taste of a drink.
So yeah, I mean, you could just sip on a soda, but boooorrrring. Instead here’s a cool recipe for you that will get your senses going (and while it might not make you forget about booze altogether, will definitely make you think twice that booze-free is “blah”):
4 oz. pomegranate juice (this stuff is rich! It’s basically the Duchess of juices)
1.5 oz. grapefruit juice (make your drink bitter, astringent, and add some depth of flavour)
Muddle a slice of jalapeño (start with a small piece at first; you can always add more, but you can’t take heat away.)
Muddle a large piece of fresh ginger (leave the peel on, mash it really well)
Add a sugar, like a simple syrup, to taste. I personally don’t think this drink needs it, but a dab of agave or honey (think 1/4 oz - 1/2 oz) would be really nice.
Shake the ingredients dry (without ice) first, then add a generous amount of ice and shake for 12 seconds. Really add oxygen and try to get a head of bubbles on your NPC (no-proof cocktail). Strain into a glass. Don’t get fussy with the garnish (unless you’re posting on Insta, I guess. Just drink!).
When making no-proof cocktails you need to go heavier on the other trigeminal effects. Really boost up the flavour by adding a lot. You can always dilute it down, but you want to feel the drink when it hits your mouth! Bonus points if you get a bit of burn on your lips from the pepper.
So go make a no-proof cocktail! And go check out Better Drinking Culture and this XChrome Collective piece I wrote back in January talking about my view on “Democratic Drinking” with (bonus!) another amazing recipe.