I take pride in being a fantastic hostess. For me, this means not only setting out a nice cheese plate and putting together the perfect party playlist, but also providing a booze-free option for my friends who aren't drinking that day. And handing them a soda or nudging them toward the lemonade will not do.
I want to give them a mocktail that truly lives up to the name, and for that, I'm turning to my friend Maggie Hoffman's new book Batch Cocktails and her recipe for Pomegranate-Citrus Sans-gria.
How to Make a Good Mocktail
While Maggie's new book mostly concentrates on big batch cocktails made with alcohol—check out the recipe for Side Porch Sangria that I'm also sharing—she devotes an entire chapter to alcohol-free refreshments.
I asked her what makes a good mocktail, and here's what Maggie had to say:
I really believe that non-alcoholic drinks are on the rise, and there's no reason they shouldn't get better and better. I was super strict about the recipes I included in the nonalcoholic chapter of Batch Cocktails, because I think anyone who is not drinking for whatever reason should still have a super delicious, super balanced drink. It shouldn't be overly sweet or boring.
There are a few tricks that can make these sorts of drinks work. One is the tannin from tea, which gives some of the same sensation as, say, the tannin in red wine. Another is adding a little heat, from cayenne, for example. Not enough to actually get spicy, but just enough to mimic the heat of alcohol. There's also an awesome non-alcoholic shandy in the book, the Kumquat Shandy, which has a nice bitterness from non-alcoholic beer, plus kumquats!
The Ingredients for This Virgin Sangria
This Pomegranate-Citrus Sans-gria has all of those elements that Maggie mentions above. It uses chai and English breakfast tea to provide some spice and soft tannins. It also uses cayenne for a bit of heat—but not too much.
The pomegranate juice works as the base for the sangria, a stand-in for the red wine in traditional sangria. To this, Maggie has you add grapefruit juice, orange juice, lemon juice, and fresh berries.
The sum of all these parts is an alcohol-free sangria that any of us would be happy sipping at a party!
More Great Alcohol-Free Drinks!
- Ginger Switchel
- Agua de Jamaica
- Rosemary Lemon Rhubarb Spritzer
- Cucumber Mint Shrub Soda
- Lavender Lemonade
Maggie Hoffman's Virgin Pomegranate-Citrus Sangria
From Maggie Hoffman: "The secret to good booze-free sangria is a bunch of tart citrus and a little spice. Pomegranate juice (sweetened with raspberry jam) stands in for red wine here; it gets additional tannin and warm flavor from long-steeped tea. I’ve included a sprinkle of cayenne to subtly mimic alcohol’s heat; if you want a spicy drink, feel free to add a pinch more. Consider this recipe your flavor base: you can garnish it with whatever seasonal fruit you have on hand. If you’d like to add more than a cup of fruit, make sure your pitcher can hold the extra volume."
Reprinted with permission from Batch Cocktails: Make-Ahead Pitcher Drinks for Every Occasion by Maggie Hoffman, copyright © 2019. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.
- 2 tablespoons seedless raspberry jam or spread
- 1 cup water
- 2 chai tea bags
- 2 English breakfast tea bags
- 8 thin orange wheels
- 1 1/2 cups fresh grapefruit juice
- 1 cup fresh orange juice
- 6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 1/4 cups chilled unsweetened 100% pomegranate juice (such as Knudsen)
- 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, as desired
- 4 thin lemon wheels
- 1 cup fresh berries, sliced peaches, or other seasonal fruit (optional)
- To serve:
- 3/4 cup chilled club soda, plus more as needed
Make the tea infusion:
Up to 1 day before serving, put raspberry jam and water in a 1-quart saucepan and bring to a bare simmer over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve completely. Turn off heat and add chai and English breakfast tea bags, making sure they’re fully submerged.
Let steep for 40 minutes, then discard tea bags. If not serving immediately, cover and refrigerate.
Up to 2 hours before serving, make the sangria:
Place 4 orange wheels into a 2-quart pitcher along with tea mixture. Tap orange wheels about ten times with a muddler or long wooden spoon, just enough to bruise peel; don’t pulverize it.
Prepare grapefruit, orange, and lemon juices, and pour into pitcher mix, along with pomegranate juice and cayenne, and stir to mix. Add lemon wheels and remaining 4 orange wheels, plus any additional fruit, and stir gently.
If not serving immediately, seal well, covering with plastic wrap if needed, and refrigerate. (I do find that this improves after an hour or two in the fridge, but not much more.)
To serve, stir mixture well, then add chilled club soda, and give it another gentle stir. Pour into ice-filled tumblers or wine glasses, offering additional club soda to anyone who prefers a spritzier sangria.