Y’all know I love me some cocktail hour. It’s a tradition I grew up with (although obviously not always with alcohol involved!) When I was young it meant Shirley Temples with cheese and crackers!! To me cocktail hour signifies the end to the day (whether that’s a day of sightseeing or work meetings) and the beginning of a relaxing evening.
I find myself craving a drink everyday at 5pm, especially if I’m about to start cooking. But that craving isn’t for alcohol itself (that’s just a nice bonus!). The craving is for the clink of a glass, a dance of flavor on the palate and the nostalgia of that time of day.
There’s nothing like a glass of wine to sip while cooking, but alcohol (as you know) isn’t something I recommend daily for your healthiest life. Thus, here are 5 non-alcoholic cocktail hour ideas to help you unwind without the booze.
1. Seltzer water with a splash of anything. The bubbles ooze fun and a splash of juice, lime wedge, lemonade or a cherry add a hint of flavor so you don’t feel like you’re having just another water. I know I promised non-alcoholic, but a splash of wine or beer will also really enhance the flavor of your bubbles without getting you tipsy.
2. Mocktails. Just search for mocktails on Pinterest and I’m sure you’ll find hundreds of ideas! My favorite from when I was pregnant** was a combo of lemon and lime juice with a little simple syrup. Served in a martini glass of course! I also used to enjoy the Spice-A-Rita at Mono Loco made with limeade instead of liquor. Since we have the jalapeno syrup recipe, you could easily make it virgin. (Note to self: create the virgin recipe!)
This was one of the mocktails I had on our Jamaica trip when I was 4 weeks pregnant!
3. Kombucha. The oh-so-popular healthy "cocktail." Kombucha has the intensity of a mixed drink without all the loopiness. It comes in tons of flavors, so if you haven’t found that it suites your fancy, keep experimenting!
4. Iced tea. Ok, so a glass of iced tea is more of a dinner table staple than a cocktail hour drink, but my point here is that I need something tasty on ice to sip while I relax on the porch at 5:00. I loved the raspberry leaf tea I brewed at home while I was waiting for Mazen to arrive, and mint teas with a fresh mint garnish are thismuchcloser to being a real mint julep!
5. Fresh juice. Fresh juices are the backbone of many a cocktail, so when you need something refreshing to sip (or guzzle) juice is a great option. The Juice Laundry here in Cville makes a citrus + cayenne pepper juice that is amazing for cocktail hour – and you could replicate that at home with OJ, lime juice and a wee pinch of your spiciest spice! Serve it in a wine glass for good measure.
**I know some of you are going to suspect I’m pregnant again, but alas I am not! I promise! I’ve been meaning to write this post for ages!