Lots of sparkle, but no alcohol


Alternative drinks can hold their own at holiday parties

December 10, 2003|By Sara Engram | Sara Engram,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

After a lengthy period of sobriety, the British actor Peter O'Toole once said, "Being sober for so many years is getting interesting."

Lots of folks may opt to avoid alcoholic drinks, but that doesn't mean they have to give up fun and taste when it comes to holiday beverages.

That's the premise behind The Ultimate Liquor-Free Drink Guide: More Than 325 Drinks With No Buzz But Plenty of Pizzazz, by Sharon Tyler Herbst (Broadway Books, 2002, $15).

This small volume features lots of good ideas for party drinks, along with pithy observations like the one from O'Toole - all of which serve to remind us that we don't need to measure the size of the celebration by the amount of alcohol consumed.

But as Herbst says, we do need a little pizazz, especially around the holidays - even, or maybe especially, when there's no alcohol involved.

Herbst helps makes that possible by providing tasty recipes for alcohol-free versions of old favorites like a margarita or a Fuzzy Navel. Her margarita depends on alcohol-free versions of white wine and triple sec, while the Fuzzless Navel substitutes peach nectar for peach schnapps.

These drinks are often called mocktails, because they aim to capture the sophistication of a cocktail without the alcohol. This category of drink has gotten a boost in recent years as alcohol-free wines have improved.

In fact, some of them have improved to the point that they are worthy drinks on their own. At a recent gathering, I served a bottle of Sutter Home Fre Sparkling Brut as well as a bottle of Italian sparkling wine.

The Fre held its own, with good flavor and plenty of sparkle. If you or any of your guests are avoiding alcohol but still love the sound of that popping cork, check this one out. It's good solo, or as the base for a sparkling mixed drink.

Morning Mimosa

Serves 1

2 ounces chilled orange juice

5 ounces chilled Fre Sparkling Brut

splash of grenadine

orange slice, for garnish (optional)

Pour orange juice into a champagne glass. Slowly add Sparkling Brut and splash of grenadine. Garnish with orange slice, if desired.

- Sutter Home Winery

Mock Margarita

Serves 1

1/2 cup (4 ounces) de-alcoholized white wine

1/4 cup (2 ounces) fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons (1 ounce) nonalcoholic triple sec or orange-flavored syrup

lime wedge or slice for garnish

Moisten a margarita glass or wineglass rim with a little lime juice, then dip rim into salt. Shake the first 3 ingredients with cracked ice; strain into glass. Garnish with lime wedge.

- "The Ultimate Liquor-Free Drink Guide," by Sharon Tyler Herbst (Broadway Books, 2002, $15)

Fuzzless Navel

Serves 1

3/4 cup (6 ounces) fresh orange juice

1/3 cup (scant 3 ounces) peach nectar

orange slice for garnish

Combine orange juice and peach nectar in a tall glass; stir. Add ice cubes, garnish with orange slice.

- "The Ultimate Liquor-Free Drink Guide," by Sharon Tyler Herbst (Broadway Books, 2002, $15)

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