Alcohol-free cocktails have evolved far beyond the Shirley Temple or Virgin Mary. This new frontier of social drinking is all about meticulously crafted drinks typically made with botanical “zero-proof” spirit alternatives that add flavor and intrigue without the buzz. Bartenders and mixologists (many of whom cringe at the term “mocktail”) know they must nail the all-important balance of sweet and sour and add some complexity with herbs or spices, sometimes in the form of vinegar-based shrubs or house-made bitters. Here are a few stellar examples right here on Long Island, and guess what? No designated driver needed.
150 E. Main St., Bay Shore; 631-665-1256, thelinwoodbayshore.com
The cocktail list at The Linwood in Bay Shore is as equally fine-tuned as the menu, and the nonalcoholic drinks are no exception. Most of the abv-free drinks (“abv” is short for “alcohol by volume”) rotate seasonally and riff on cocktail classics using Lyre’s alcohol-free elixirs and fresh fruit juices. Here, you’ll find The Amal Coast, which mimics a strawberry Negroni with Lyre’s Apéritif Rosso, Italian Orange and Apéritif Dry, garnished with a fresh strawberry. The Tortuga, a twist on a rum Old Fashioned, layers cinnamon, nutmeg and coriander with Lyre’s Dark Cane Spirit, spiced demerara, and alcohol-free bitters. That pink beauty in the coupe is La Casablanca, which melds Lyre’s Apéritif Dry and Orange Sec with watermelon-mint shrub and cranberry juice. The Espress-No Martini highlights Lyre’s Coffee Originale, amaretti and espresso. Finally, the Cinque Terre is a take on the Aperol spritz using Lyre’s Apéritif Rosso, Italian Orange and abv-free prosecco for a refreshing yet nonintoxicating summer quaff.
ENDLESS SUMMER TEA HOUSE
4217 Merrick Rd., Massapequa; 516-795-0945, endlesssummerny.com
Endless Summer, which opened this spring, conjures rustic, brick- lined bar vibes. Its well of alcohol-free mixed drinks include iced matcha, oat milk and green teas to CBD lemonade on tap. Chief among the ingredients is kava, a root grown in the South Pacific that can be soaked in water for use as a sedative or anti-anxiety tincture. At Endless Summer’s bar, you can sample three takes on kava—White Sand, Wow, and Stone—a cloudy flight that's garnished with pineapple. (If you’re new to kava, research its potential side effects before using.)
Locations in Huntington, Plainview and West Sayville; intheshed.com
This brunch-to-dinner spot serves an ornate Bloody Mary, but the bar keeps non-imbibers in mind, too, with beautiful yet spiritless mixed drinks. The Passion Flower, melds passion-fruit juice, citrus juices and ginger for a refreshing, spicy twist on a cosmo, while the cleverly named Air Quotes Sangria gets its oomph from a mélange of fresh fruit juices (peach, citrus, cranberry and grape) blended with agave syrup. Lastly, the Revenge of the Pink Panther is the abv-free version of The Shed’s most popular cocktail: grapefruit, peach and lemon juices with the essence of elder flower, but sans vodka.
474 W. Lake Dr., Montauk; 631-668-8344, lafinkitchen.com
Now in its second season, La Fin puts an urbane, French twist on the beachy fare of Montauk while staying hyper-conscious of its guests’ healthy dining and drinking habits. Cocktails here draw heavily on fruit juices and herbs, and the zero-proof menu takes that spirit up a notch into virgin territory. The Bicyclette, for instance, marries freshly squeezed lemonade with strawberries and a bit of white balsamic vinegar, while the blueberry-cucumber No-Jito draws on freshly squeezed lime juice, agave for sweetness and soda water for a satisfying texture.
OCEAN CODE HANDROLL BAR
227 Old Country Rd., Carle Place; 516-544-6199
Wedged between a Red Lobster and a giant trattoria, this spot is iconoclastic as can be: A room-length sushi bar is practically the only seating, and the succinct menu centers almost completely on Japanese handrolls and small bites. While there are no cocktails, a lineup of fresh lemonades—flavored with either lychee (shown above), strawberry or citrusy yuzu—are so refreshing and lovingly garnished that they can make you forget the thirst for alcohol.