Nonalcoholic drinks for grown-ups

New Year's Eve drinks can still be snazzy without the booze.

Joanne Ciccerello
Sparkling pomegranate punch.
Joanne Ciccerello
Sparkling pomegranate punch.

If you are getting ready to host your New Year's Eve party tonight, please don't forget the "nondrinkers" who will be present. There is always at least one at every party for a variety of reasons: maybe she is pregnant, or maybe he is trying to cut back, or maybe that couple doesn't drink for health reasons, religious reasons, or they simply want to be clear-eyed and ready to hit the slopes bright and early the next day.

There is no reason that alcohol-free drinks can't be creative, festive, and smart.

At most parties I've been to the nonalcoholic drinks are usually a lonely display of plastic liters of soda and fruit juices – sugary and uninspired. This is OK, but as someone who chooses not to drink alcohol, it sometimes leaves me wondering if I should also be carrying around a balloon and a lolly pop with my "Shirley Temple." This is not OK.

Fortunately, more restaurants are beginning to offer creative drinks without alcohol and the ingredients are simple enough that you can easily recreate these at home. You can also find "mocktail" ideas in these guides: "Zero-Proof Cocktails" by Liz Scott, "Preggatinis: Mixology for the Mom to-be," by Natalie Bovis Nelson, or "The Ultimate Liquor-Free Drink Guide," by Sharon Tyler Herbst.

Monitor correspondent Jennifer Wolcott interviewed Kevin Rogers, bar manager at Urbana Restaurant and Wine Bar in Washington, D.C., a couple of years ago and I find myself returning often to her article "Snazzy holiday drinks, alcohol free" for ideas (recipes reprinted below). The recipe for sparkling pomegranate punch is festive and refreshing with just enough edge to confirm that yes, you have graduated from the kiddie table.

So get your sparkle on and dazzle your guests by uncorking your creativity. And then go wax your skis for tomorrow morning. The snowfall here in the East has been "epic."

Happy New Year!

Washington Tea Party

Serves 12

Fresh mint leaves and raspberries, divided
4 cups iced tea (unsweetened)
1 cup fresh lime juice
2 cups club soda
3/4 cup simple syrup (see recipe below)

With a mortar and pestle, muddle, or gently mash together about 10 raspberries and 10 mint leaves. Set aside. In a large pitcher, pour iced tea, lime juice, and club soda. Add ice, muddled raspberries and mint, and the simple syrup. Stir and pour into glasses, and garnish with about 3 raspberries per drink.

For the simple syrup:

2 cups sugar
2 cups water

Bring sugar and water to a boil. Simmer until sugar is dissolved. Makes about 1-1/2 cups. Can be refrigerated for up to 3 weeks.*

Virgin Mojito

Serves 12

3 bunches of mint leaves (about 20 leaves per bunch)
1-1/2 cups fresh lime juice
3/4 cup simple syrup (see recipe above)
48 ounces chilled ginger ale
Lime slices, for garnish

With a mortar and pestle, gently mash mint leaves. Set aside. In a large pitcher, stir together the lime juice and simple syrup. Add mint, ice, and ginger ale. Stir and pour into festive glasses. Garnish with whole mint leaves and lime slices.*

Sparkling pomegranate punch

Serves 12

1 quart pomegranate juice
2 cups fresh orange juice, strained
2 cups chilled limeade
1 (25-ounce) bottle sparkling water
Lime and orange slices, for garnish
Seeds from 3 fresh pomegranates

In a punch bowl, combine the pomegranate juice, orange juice, and limeade. Pour in the sparkling water and float lime and orange slices on top. Fill 12 glasses with ice, sprinkle in the pomegranate seeds, and ladle punch into glasses.*

Simple citrus cooler

Serves 12 to 15

8 cups fresh red grapefruit juice
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
4 cups sparkling water or club soda
Lime slices and fresh mint sprigs, for garnish

Stir together juices and sparkling water or club soda in a pitcher, add plenty of ice, pour into glasses, and garnish with fresh mint sprigs and lime slices.*

* Recipes for the original Monitor article were provided by Kevin Rogers, bar manager at Urbana Restaurant and Wine Bar in Washington, D.C.

Kendra Nordin also blogs at Kitchen Report.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best food bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by The Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own and they are responsible for the content of their blogs and their recipes. All readers are free to make ingredient substitutions to satisfy their dietary preferences, including not using wine (or substituting cooking wine) when a recipe calls for it. To contact us about a blogger, click here.

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