Teetotaling Time

October 14, 2008

The best bars—the warmest and most comfortable; the friendliest and most inviting—offer far more than just alcohol to the average patron...

The best bars—the warmest and most comfortable; the friendliest and most inviting—offer far more than just alcohol to the average patron. A good bar is a respite from the outside world, a shelter that offers camaraderie and a friendly ear. There are sports to cheer and people to watch and discussion to be had and though this all might happen amid the vivid swirl that alcohol creates, it certainly doesn’t have to. And so this edition of Bartender’s Buzz is dedicated to the non-drinkers. Whatever the reason for their abstinence, the bar is their territory too. Here now, some non-alcoholic options to make it feel that way…

We’ll start with the non-alcoholic beer. Usually, these are sour, almost rancid imitations of the real thing. But there are intrepid brewers out there who are attempting to crack the code and create a non-alcoholic beer that tastes, well, like beer. One such brew is Clausthaler’s, which comes from Germany. The brewing process for Clausthaler’s is a closely guarded secret but suffice to say that the result is a beer with a crisp bitterness that reminds one of a good-quality lager.

The Bellini is an Italian aperitif made of peach juice and sparkling wine. I fell in love with the light, effervescent quality of the Bellini while I was studying abroad and spent many a sun-kissed afternoon sipping them while lounging about in some picturesque piazza. One can easily replace the wine with a sparkling cider such as Martinelli’s. The cider holds on to the drink’s bubbly charm while actually deepening the taste by pairing the peach with another fruit flavor.

3 ounces fresh peach juice
5 ounces sparkling cider
Using a tall glass, pour the peach juice in first, followed by the cider.

And finally, there is that old standby of the teetotaler, the Shirley Temple. While the mere mention of that bygone star of yesteryear might immediately conjure up images of the kids’ table at family gatherings (or the Good Ship Lollipop), it’s a drink that is worth some consideration. Consider, for example, the way that a Shirley Temple manages to be both sweet and refreshing. Usually, a drink relying this heavily on grenadine will leave a syrupy, saccharine aftertaste in your mouth. But the lemon-lime soda cuts right through this, making the Shirley Temple a thirst quencher as well as a delicious and alcohol-free alternative.

Shirley Temple
6 ounces lemon-lime flavored carbonated beverage
dash of grenadine syrup
1 maraschino cherry
Into a tall glass, pour soda and grenadine over ice, add cherry and straw.

Maybe you’re the designated driver or maybe you just don’t feel like drinking tonight. But don’t let that stop you from bellying up to the bar. Take it from me. There’s too much fun to be had and too many Shirley Temples to drink.