Often, if you ask for a mocktail at a bar, you get two boxed juices put together, add a bit of lemon and a fancy straw and they be done with it. Which is a shame, because with fresh herbs, juices and fruit, creating a delicious alternative to a traditional cocktail, isn't that hard. And you don't necessarily always feel like drinking water or a grossly sweet soft drink when you're out with friends - no matter if you generally drink or not. At the very much underrated American Bar in the Torni hotel, you can not only order fresh and seasonal mocktails - I was invited to join a small group to try their alcohol-free options and learn how to recreate them at home.
Kaupallinen yhteistyö / Commercial collaboration: Raflaamo / Sokotel Oy
A few thoughts on the drinking culture
So, if you'd told me I would join a Mocktail class a couple of years ago, I'd probably have given you a funny look - but since the Mister stopped drinking about two years ago, the topics of alcohol-free alternatives have been more and more a discussion. A lot of people around me have gone dry off alcohol, and I've also cut down compared to a couple of years ago.
While we're at it - can we please all agree not to question people when they say they don't drink? I feel like I've become pretty immune to stupid questions, whether I'm pregnant or the like, but many people still feel very uncomfortable when asked this question. And rightfully so, because those choices are not really anyone's business, and one can never know if there's a sensitive background to this choice that you might not wanna dip into. And in the end, why does it even matter? I think we're beyond the times where it's deemed "necessary" to have fun when going out, or where it's weird when people don't join the drinking party.
And frankly, if you're the person judging someone else who's not drinking, let's be honest, chances are that you're the one who should probably not drink either.
I believe in modesty in life in general; when it comes to food and drinks and whatever - it's the amount that counts. I still do enjoy a glass of wine or three, or a cocktail, but ever so often I opt for the alcohol-free version available - when it's nice. But I don't go over the top with the drinking anymore, also I'm pushing 30 real hard and the hangovers get worse every single time. Not drinking should be applauded and not questioned. And I'm glad to see that bars and restaurants have noticed the need for change also in this department. It's important to have high-quality offers for everyone and it should start with the drinks
I think that Mocktails should be a valid alternative at any bar or restaurant you go to. Just like how the vegetarian and vegan options have become a given on any dinner menu, alcohol-free options should exceed orange juice and coke. We got to taste the offers at the American Bar, and then bartender Ville guided us through making our favourite by ourselves (a cocktail class is also offered for groups!)
Mocktails in a nutshell
Mocktails are put together similarly to their alcoholic colleagues, and whilst I'll share the recipes for you, we first focus on the four components:
- something sweet: syrups, sugar, honey, etc.
- something sour: lemon, lime, grapefruit etc.
- the mixing agent: juices, teas etc.
- flavours: herbs, spices, seasoning of sorts, added fruit or veggies (don't we all like cucumber in our drinks?)
The magic lies in the details and the correct ratios, and of course in personal preference as well. My favourite of those on the menu was easily the TAIMI - a fresh and sour cocktail with fresh ginger (and you always get me with that). The basil was a total surprise to me, it complemented the other ingredients so well, but wasn't overpowering. This was also the drink I tried making myself, and it will be the first one I'll try to make again.
Delightful berrily was the VOGUE - of which you can find the recipe on the bar's website, I also really liked the idea of the sweet apple and rooibos tea combination.
In the end, there are no rules, just guidelines - and I will try to recreate some of these at home at the next dinner party with friends. A cocktail set including the strainer and shaker can be found for little money at all household departments or at Alko. Handy to have, great to impress and also nice to look at when not in use.
The American Bar in the Torni hotel really surprised me already when I went there for the Christmas Lunch a couple of months ago, because what mainly stuck with me were the drinks there. A great place to start an evening before a Dinner Date or to end the night after a long day. Mocktails come in at 7€ and non-alcoholic beers and wines at 5€/glass.
- Smash up a ca. 3cm long piece of fresh ginger
- add a good handful of fresh basil (use more than you would think)
and grind that up well into the ginger
- add 2cl of Ginger syrup
- 3cl of Grapefruit juice
- Shake well and strain into the glass
- add a leaf of basil to garnish and some freshly ground pepper Serve in a cold glass and enjoy! I didn't grind up the basil well enough so it didn't come off strong