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By Stacy Baca
Summertime spirits, meet the shapely Mocktail: A cocktail — a variety of cocktails, really — with all of the sophistication, the weighty brew, the refreshing bite minus the alcohol. They taste great and are no less ful-filling. Though cocktails often complete the meal, round out the occasion, mocktails are lazy without the hazy.
So why are so many switching their drink of choice to non-alcoholic libations? The answer is, simply, “health.” From calorie counting, to increasing intake of important nutrients, to women who are expecting, non-alcoholic elixirs are matching the temperature outside by turning up the heat.
Hot Topic: Breast Health and Alcohol
A good thing, since women who’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer may want to consider limiting their alcohol consumption. Recently, a study published in The Journal of Clinical Oncology (August 30, 2010) concluded that consuming three to four alcoholic drinks or more per week after a breast cancer diagnosis may increase risk of breast cancer recurrence, particularly among postmenopausal and overweight/obese women (1). So, this summer is the perfect time to see what’s shakin’ with mocktails.
Shakin’, Not Blurred
Summer tempts us to seize tiny moments of celebration, like cannon-balling into a cool lake, and it leads us to quiet moments of inspired creativity, such as tie dyed t-shirts and a stack of recipes to turn those dozens of garden tomatoes into culinary bliss. In summer, we choose to focus on life’s abundance with gratitude, and perhaps a little revelry. So, celebrate the opportunities for creativity with liquid concoctions that inspire your good health by adding a little flair.
Save Skimpy for the Beach
Presentation, presentation, presentation! The artistry of the mocktail has become mainstream and has moved far beyond “Near Beer,” sparkling apple juice, and club soda with lime. Mocktails have become inventive eye-, as well as taste bud-candy. So, the next time you’re at the hottest cocktail lounge in the city, ask the bartender for what he or she can dream up, and while entertaining at home, try:
Beautiful glassware. Non-alcoholic craft beer in a hefty, frosty mug. Buy pretty stemware or choose glasses you may have on hand to add a little whimsy — such as jelly jars or mom’s antique water glasses. Serve from cut glass punch bowls or pour from a retro-style pitcher.
Give it a twist. Garnishing options are as endless as stars on a summer night
–“Frosting,” otherwise known as rimming the glass. Dip the rim of the glass in egg whites and then choose from a variety of finely chopped salts, sugars, or spices to match. Try crushed cocoa or coffee beans; candies such as lemon drops or peppermints; Cajun or other ethnic seasonings; finely chopped coconut flakes or flavored and colored sugars.
–“Icing,” with ice cubes. Many cookware stores make trays in fun shapes from creatures to diamonds, and letters to shoes (www.kaboodle.com). Freeze berries, flowers or candies into standard ice cube trays or color with food coloring.
–Add sparkle to cold, clear drinks with Lustre Dust (www.confectioneryhouse.com). This confectionary medium adds edible shimmer to drinks, frostings, and food and comes in a spectrum of colors.
–Top it off. Add shrimp or lumps of crab; bountiful fruits like clusters of tiny grapes, or exotic starfruit; unexpected herbs such as basil, thyme, or dill; edible flowers grown without chemicals like lavender, pansies, or Nasturtium; relish vegetables like a variety of olives, chilies, green onions, radishes; and candy-like chocolate shavings, gummies, and peppermint. Typing “cocktail garnish images” into your favorite search engine provides an array of artful displays.
Ready, set, go! Simplicity is the key to summer. Have a stock of get-up-and-go drinks that are just as beautiful and pleasing as that amazing sunset you’ve decided to take in. Try Italian sodas in graceful bottles. Flavors such as green apple, pink grapefruit, pomegranate, and lemon are sure to refresh. To soften the sweetness of Italian sodas, or to add fizz to any drink, add club soda, sparkling, or tonic water. Pair with fruit-flavored or simple syrups, a twist of citrus, or fruit and vegetable juices. If sweet is not what you’re after, there are vast choices of non-alcoholic beers that rival the complex microbrews (beeradvocate.com) and a variety of non-alcoholic wines but, be aware, many still contain small amounts of alcohol.
With summer entertaining, as with all entertaining, it is important to consider the tastes of all of your guests. Make drinks that are non-alcoholic at their base but, are great with alcohol added to them. Stripped-down margaritas are beautiful in a frosty pitcher surrounded with icy shot glasses of tequila and wedges of lime for those who might want to add it.
Folate for What “Ales” You
But, what about the times when you just gotta….? That glass of champagne at your daughter’s wedding, your Friday night martini, that full-bodied red with your grandmother’s homemade sauce and pasta? Findings suggest that “the excess risk of breast cancer associated with alcohol consumption may be reduced by adequate folate intake” (2).
Natalie Bovis is The Liquid Muse, and for good reason. She has created mocktails that are both satisfying and rich in folate. Allow yourself to be tempted by this succulent recipe from her book, Preggatinis ™: Mixology for the Mom to Be.
1/2 cup cantaloupe chunks
3 large strawberries
1/2 ounce lime juice
1 ounce simple syrup
lime-flavored mineral water
Put cantaloupe through a fruit juicer; pour 3 ounces into a wine glass. Slice 2 strawberries and put them into the glass. Add the lime juice and simple syrup, then ice, and stir gently. Top with lime-flavored mineral water, and garnish with the remaining strawberry on a cocktail pick. Mixology for the Mom-To-Be” by Natalie Bovis.)
Make It Neat
Mixes like Folic Fizz are neat-o-torpedo and, chances are, you won’t be missing a thing. Except, well, maybe a headache? With mocktails, you’re toned up and ready for all that summer has to offer, including sand in your shorts.
(1) Kwan ML, Kushi LH, Weitzein E, et al. (2010) Alcohol consumption and breast cancer recurrence and survival among women with early-stage breast cancer: The Life After Cancer Epidemiology (LACE) Study. J Clinical Oncology 28:4410–4416.
(2) Zhang, S. A prospective study of folate intake and the risk of breast cancer. JAMA: the Journal of the American Medical Association, 1999, 281(17), 1632-1637.
Stacy Baca, OTR/L is a health and wellness writer who has combined her 17 years of experience as an occupational therapist with her talent for writing, to serve various communities and publications.