8 booze-free drinks to sip at metro Atlanta restaurants

These mocktails come with all the pleasure and none the proof

Going out for a cocktail doesn’t always mean alcohol. We don’t need to call them “mocktails” either. There is no mocking going on with the no proof drink movement on bar menus today. Barkeeps use the same focus on ingredients and same ingenuity of craft cocktail in making full flavored and sophisticated drinks without the booze.

For whatever reason, drinking sans spirits should be a choice and not a compromise. Luckily, Atlanta area bars and restaurants have upped their game over the last few years with drinks that are lively without the intoxication.

Using shrubs, bitter sodas, fruit juices, spice, teas and tonics, talented bartenders give no-proof drinks the same attention as boozy concoctions. Their often culinary inflected cocktails are strikingly complex, vibrant and meant to be lingered over as the ice melts.

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Credit: Courtesy of Lyla Lila

Credit: Courtesy of Lyla Lila

Phantom Mood at Lyla Lila

Much like wine, tea lends an expression of terroir. Some can introduce smoke or nuttiness. Lyla Lila Beverage Manager Ellen Steves uses earthy oolong as the backbone of Phantom Mood. “It’s a warm, inviting, essentially cozy baking spice profile with subtle woodsy undertones, balanced with bright citrus notes and a honey vanilla finish,” she said. It’s an ethereal sipper that pairs as much with the luscious digs as the menu.

693 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta. 404-963-2637, lylalilaatl.com.

The Grey Fox at Foundation Social Eatery

Tea can be to spirit-free cocktails as vermouth is to spirited-cocktails, adding tannins and complexity that is often difficult to replicate. “The Grey Fox reminds me of a Ramos Gin Fizz, but nonalcoholic and not as difficult to make” said Foundation Social’s Nick Hassiotis. Earl Grey, a blood orange oleo saccharum and thyme come to a frothy head with a little egg white and a topping off of ginger beer.

55 Roswell St., Alpharetta. 678-691-0028, foundationatl.com.

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Credit: Courtesy of Chai Pani Restaurant Group

Credit: Courtesy of Chai Pani Restaurant Group

Jal Jeera at Chai Pani

Spice forms the basis of Chai Pani’s Jal Jeera. A swirl of peppercorn, cumin, mint and chilis gives pleasant depths to this refresher with a flick of ginger bubbles and a lifting of lemon. It’s absolutely refreshing while at the same time a sophisticated complement to the flavors on the Indian street food menu.

406 W. Ponce de Leon Ave., Decatur. 404-378-4030, chaipani.com.

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Credit: Courtesy of Brian Manley

Credit: Courtesy of Brian Manley

I Share My Dreams with Ghosts at Southern Belle/Georgia Boy

A tasting menu at Southern Belle or its inner sanctum Georgia Boy can take the ground from beneath your feet with the ethereal and playful dishes. As well as traditional pairings, menus can be paired with zero-proof offerings just as refined and composed. I Share My Dreams with Ghosts stirs together bitter and aromatic Gnista Floral Wormwood, Lyre’s White Cane Spirit and a couple of dashes of bitters. It has a rich complexity for clear headed contemplation.

1043 Ponce de Leon Ave. NE, Atlanta. 404-698-3961, southernbelleatl.com.

Just Wear Black at Ecco Buckhead.

A riff on a margarita, Just Wear Black combines ISH Mexican Agave Spirit, agave syrup and citrus elements. The reposado-style spirit has the woodsy, smoky notes of a traditional tequila without the alcohol. Beverage Director Ian Mendelsohn said the “Fifth Group Restaurants forged a partnership with (Atlanta’s) Zero Proof Distributor to recreate some of the most popular cocktails into zero-proof iterations.”

3586 Peachtree Road, Atlanta. 404-347-9558, ecco-atlanta.com.

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Credit: Courtesy of Jose Pereiro

Credit: Courtesy of Jose Pereiro

Zero Proof Negroni at Storico Vino

“This is a cocktail I wanted to add to our menu to represent Italian culture, but for the non-alcohol drinkers,” said Jose Pereiro, Storico Vino Beverage Director. Served over a large cube, the Negroni riff comes together with bright and briny Pentire 0% ABV Gin, Wilfred’s nonalcoholic bittersweet aperitif and Lyre’s Aperitif Rossa (sweet vermouth without the booze). Orange peel is expressed over top, releasing the citrus oils for both flavor and aroma.

3065 Peachtree Road NE, Atlanta. 404-806-0050, storicovino.com.

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Credit: Courtesy of Drift Fish House & Oyster Bar

Credit: Courtesy of Drift Fish House & Oyster Bar

Drink and Be Berry at Drift Fish House & Oyster Bar

Marietta’s Drift Fish House & Oyster Bar often relies on fruit reductions and spiced syrups to introduce bright flavors to their spirit-free drink menu. Drink and Be Berry has apple and orange juices, hibiscus, cinnamon, clove and star anise. It’s like a cool, refreshing wassail … with a cherry on top.

4475 Roswell Road, Marietta. 770-635-7641, driftoysterbar.com.

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Credit: Courtesy of O-KU

Credit: Courtesy of O-KU

Pucker Up at O-Ku

The secret to a good cocktail is balance, precisely the same as the craft of making sushi. Westside’s O-Ku does both well, including their menu of zero-proof drinks. The sweet and sour Pucker Up uses a delicately sweet base of lychee fruit with the tartness of grapefruit juice. Bitter cranberry is a balancing accompaniment, while soda water adds delightful and lengthening fizz.

1085 Howell Mill Road NW, Atlanta. 404-500-2383, o-kusushi.com.

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