'Mocktails' offer delicious mix of flavors in cold drinks that forgo alcohol

People opt not to drink alcohol for many reasons: pregnancy, sensitivity and — sometimes — personal preference.

Yet, when other folks turn to fizzy ice-cold cocktails amid sky-high summer temperatures, a glass of water might seem downright dull — as restaurants have noticed.

Many have added no-booze concoctions to their cocktail lists. In addition to white-peach sangria and mango mojitos, Bravo! Cucina Italiana — with locations on Hayden Road and at Crosswoods and Lennox Town Center — devotes a section of its list to nonalcoholic concoctions such as a wild-berry lemonade and a Tuscan berry fresca.

The bar at Cap City Fine Diner and Bar near Grandview Heights mixes blackberry-sage lemonade; strawberry-basil lemonade; a peach Palmer (lemonade, tea and peach puree); and a honeydew agua fresca that mixes fresh fruit juice with sparkling water.

With multiple locations in central Ohio, Rusty Bucket offers a changing array of hand-shaken teas and aguas frescas for patrons choosing to forgo alcohol.

Molly Woo’s at Polaris Fashion Place goes one step further.

“We replace the cocktail flap on the lunch menu with alcohol-free drinks,” said Ryan Valentine, director of beverages for Cameron Mitchell Restaurants. “Customers want something at lunch, and tea sounds boring.”

The key to successful “mocktails,” Valentine said, is to apply the principles tapped for cocktails: balancing the flavors, using fresh herbs and juices, and making the drinks to order.

Non-imbibers might whip up such drinks at home by combining fruit or vegetable juices and sparkling water or soda.Inspired by what restaurants are doing, The Dispatch created a Sparkling Garden Mary with the addition of cucumber juice, carrot juice and sparkling water; a sweet and spicy Raspberry-Ginger Cooler; and a Virgin Mojito with all the pizazz of its alcohol-laden cousin.

The drinks should keep those who decide to skip the alcohol hydrated and happy.