Is it just me, or are mocktails having a moment right now? I’m so glad Deb brought it up last week, because I’ve been noticing mocktail menus more and more at restaurants these days. I had a fantastic one at a fancy place a few weeks ago that I would re-order even if I didn’t have a human growing inside of me. The truth of the matter is, once I hit 30, all those gin + tonics in my 20s started catching up to me. Alcohol just isn’t cute for me anymore.
You should know: I don’t consider wine to be alcohol–wine is actually sweet, sweet life blood sent from the Heavens. And yes, I have a little here and there. The little human likes it. Plus, her name is French, so I practically have a license to drink French wine while knocked up. I kid. Please don’t hate on me. We’re talking 1/4 of a glass of wine with a very full stomach of food maaaaybe once a week. Ok, fine, send hate mail. I’ll have my cork screw ready.
So, the mocktail I had at the restaurant had at least two different types of herb infusions and bitters. Umm, I barely have time to put leggings on one leg at a time these days, let alone conduct kitchen experiments in tiny brown bottles. So, my answer to the herb infusion is this: bruise a cilantro sprig with the side of a knife. Insert into glass. After a few minutes, yes, you can really taste it! I felt like a genius for discovering this. I mean, no disrespect to the thousands of mixologists out there who make tinctures and bitters. I love all handmade things. I just don’t have time to make my own these days.
One thing I will always have time for is flavored simple syrups, though. I make them in all sorts of flavors, but when I make a ginger one, I have to stop myself from drinking it straight. It’s just sooo good. You’re either a ginger fiend or a ginger foe, so if you fall on the other side, can I suggest orange peel with 1 peppercorn, or rosemary?
I hear if we drink enough of these pretty mocktails, Spring will come sooner. Bottoms up!
- 2" piece of fresh ginger
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 1/4 cups water, divided use
- 1/4 cup dried hibiscus petals (also called jaimaca flowers)
- 1/2 fresh pineapple, peeled and cored
- 2 fresh cilantro sprigs
- First, peel the ginger and slice it into very thin coins. Smash it with the end of a knife, and add it to a small sauce pan. Cover it with the sugar and 1/4 cup of the water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and let simmer for 10 minutes, covered. It will be very fragrant. Let cool on the side.
- Next, bring the remaining 2 cups of water to a boil. Once boiling, turn off the heat, add the hibiscus petals, and cover. Allow to steep for 15 minutes. Be careful--this mixture will stain anything it touches. When done, strain and let cool. (You can do this ahead of time).
- Meanwhile, juice the pineapple in a juicer, or blend in a blender and strain. You could also use store-bought pineapple juice here.
- Strain the ginger out of the syrup mixture, and divide it between two tall glasses. Add plenty of ice cubes, and top with equal parts of the pineapple juice and hibiscus tea. Finally, bruise the cilantro sprigs with the side of a knife, and add to the glass. Serve.
You can absolutely scale this recipe up to serve a crowd. I frequently do! Just triple or quadruple all ingredients.