As we round the corner into the final week of Drynuary, here are three nonalcoholic drink recipes from Sean McClure, who runs a consulting company called Cocktail Chemistry. While behind the bar at Craft, where McClure worked until last summer, he spruced up the beverage menu to include some terrific nonalcoholic options. As he put it to The New York Times, "All the time, people come in who are pregnant or who don’t drink, and if their dining partner is doing something like a full tasting menu with wine pairings, I don’t want them to have to suck down Coke all night." The Times singled out the Yuzu Rose Spritz as particularly great, and that remains McClure's favorite one, too (he describes it as "refreshing, bright, interesting"). The recipe for it is included here, along with two other ones to try—and perhaps surprise a nondrinking friend with next time you're hosting. As with the best people, the first two are a little tarty, with some effervescence underneath.
• 2 oz. fresh blood orange juice
• ¾ oz. fresh lemon juice
• ¾ oz. basil simple syrup (recipe follows)
• 3-5 lg. basil leaves
• 2-3 oz. fever tree bitter lemon soda (club soda works, too)
• 1 blood orange slice and basil sprig
For The Basil Syrup
Wash 1 ½ cups (packed) fresh basil, place it in a blender and set it aside. Bring ½ cup of water to a boil and add 1 cup of granulated sugar. Stir until dissolved. Bring it back to a boil and pour it into the blender containing the basil. Blend for 10 seconds. Let it steep for 15-20 minutes and strain through a fine mesh strainer. (Note: You won't need to for this drink, because of the blood orange, but for a brighter green syrup, steep the basil in cold syrup for 72 hours.)
Combine the juices, syrup, and basil leaves in a Boston shaker with cracked ice and shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Double strain through a fine mesh strainer over fresh ice into the glass, top with the soda and garnish with the orange slice and clapped basil sprig. (Clapping the basil or bruising the basil releases the fresh aromas.) Serve in a Riesling or a small wine glass.
• 2 oz. unsweetened passion fruit juice (Boiron brand)*
• 2 tbsp. fresh chopped ginger
• ¾ oz. fresh lime juice
• ¾ oz. jalapeño syrup (recipe follows)
• 2-3 oz. Fenteman’s ginger beer (or another nice spicy ginger beer—spicy, not sweet is important)
• 1pc. lime wheel
• 1pc. candied ginger
• 1pc. brandied cherry
For The Jalapeño Syrup
Cut the stems off two large jalapeños and place them in a blender and set it aside. Bring ½ cup of water to a boil and add 1 cup of granulated sugar. Stir until dissolved. Bring it back to a boil and pour it into the blender containing the jalapeños. Blend for 10 seconds. Let it steep for 10-15 minutes and strain through a fine mesh strainer. (For spicier, let it steep longer.)
In a small mixing tin combine and muddle the fresh ginger and lime juice. Add ice and all other liquid ingredients except the ginger beer. Shake vigorously for 20 seconds and double strain over fresh ice into the glass. Top with the ginger beer, stir lightly and garnish with the lime wheel, candied ginger and cherry. Serve in a Collins glass.
• 1 ¼ oz. Fresh Shibori Yuzu juice (you can order it from Fresh & Wild)
• ¾ oz. Fresh lemon juice
• ½ oz. Mymoune rose syrup (this can be ordered from Kalustyan's
• ½ oz. Simple syrup
• Club soda
• Rose Petal (organic)
Combine all liquid ingredients except the club soda in a Boston shaker. Shake vigorously. Strain over three 1" cubes in a highball glass. Top with club soda and garnish with the rose petal.
* Note for Passion and Heat recipe: It's important to use unsweetened passion fruit juice due to the fact that most sweetened juice is artificially flavored and sweetened with high fructose corn syrup. When using fresh juice make sure to strain the pulp out of your juice before measuring.
You can email Sean about Cocktail Chemistry here.
Previously in Buzz Off: Grenadian Sorrel Drink