Welcome to the Golden Age of Non-Alcoholic Cocktails
I love Cava for breakfast…but these drinks are making me reconsider!
I have heard a lot about this trend of Dry January, where people don’t drink any alcohol for the entire month. But you know, I am not sure it’s for me. I like my Gintonics, my wine with dinner and my Cava with breakfast! Yes, breakfast! If you watched my new show José Andrés and Family in Spain on Discovery +, you know that I took my daughters to Barcelona’s legendary Boquería market in the morning and we found many Spaniards drinking Catalan cava in the morning! It’s the Spanish way!
That said, even for me, it is a nice idea to take a break or slow down. And we are in a golden age of non-alcoholic drinks, thanks to amazing new low and no-ABV spirits. Forget those Shirley Temples! The ingredients available to make the drinks are very modern, and make non-alcoholic cocktails that are so sophisticated and delicious. It’s tempting, even for me!
Whether you are doing Dry January or not, I hope you will consider becoming a free or paid subscriber to Longer Tables in 2023!
If Dry January is something that YOU are trying this month, I hope you will take some inspiration from Nubeluz, my new bar on the 50th floor of the Nomad’s Ritz-Carlton hotel in New York City.
As you can imagine, it has astonishing views of the city. It also has the brilliant Miguel Lancha, our Cocktail Innovator, who has created a menu that includes four non-alcoholic cocktails.
Miguel’s “Emerald Coin'' is made with Seedlip Grove, which is a new non-alcoholic spirit infused with a bright blend of citrus, lemongrass and ginger, that he mixes with honeydew, more lemongrass, lime juice and celery. His “Niño Melón'' also has honeydew, but is mixed with Lyre's American Malt, lime juice and honey. (I got him to share a recipe in this post at the end.) The Firefly is a warmer cocktail that tastes more like whiskey, made with Gnista Barreled Oak with saffron, Thai basil, Thai chili tincture, and Fever-Tree Indian tonic. Another good for anyone who likes a brown spirit is his “Squaring the Circle,” which combines Kentucky 74, Lyre's Amaretti, maple syrup, and a homemade cumin tincture.
These are all really carefully made drinks with top-quality infusions and ingredients, and they don’t give you a headache or a hangover the next day. The craziest thing about these drinks is that they actually look and taste like “real” cocktails. Miguel has told me that many guests accidentally order spirit-free drinks off the menu.
If you are doing Dry January, here’s Miguel’s recipe for the Niño Melón. Warning: It’s going to require a trip to the store and some prep work. If it seems overwhelming, no worries! I personally invite you to Nubeluz. (Tell them José sent you.) If you are not in New York, you can visit one of my other restaurants. We have non-alcoholic drinks at all of them!
1 ounce Lyre's Absinthe non-alcoholic spirit
2 ounces honeydew melon juice, fresh and strained
1 tablespoon lime juice, fresh and strained
1 tablespoon honey syrup (3 parts honey to 1 part water, by weight)
½ teaspoon Cepa Vieja sherry aged vinegar, or other aged sherry vinegar of your choice
3-4 stigmas of saffron, for garnish
Place two ice cubes in a cocktail shaker.
Combine all the ingredients in a shaker and shake vigorously for 20 shakes.
Strain your cocktail into a chilled coupe glass or glass of your choice.
Garnish with saffron. Drink!