Mocktails in Orlando

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15 social spots for NA beers, CBD sips, and mocktails in Orlando. 

By Kelsey Ann Glennon 

 

mocktails in orlando

Hidden Path mocktail at the Ette hotel

Cheers. Kampaii. Salud. Prost. Tcin Tcin. Celebrations around the world this time of year are often marked with the clink of a glass and the sip of a boozy drink.

But, maybe you’ve attended a few too many celebrations and those drink clinks are starting to add up, perhaps in calories or day-after brain fogs.

Whether you’re sober, sober-curious, or would just like to forego a night of imbibing, there are bars, lounges, and bottle shops in Central Florida that offer the social scene to enjoy good conversation, sans hangover.

Mocktails, zero-proof, spirit-free, or 0% alcohol by volume (ABV) – no matter what you call them, if you’re interested in alternative beverages you’re not alone. According to a 20 year Gallup poll, Americans’ alcohol consumption is at one of its lowest. Drinking in moderation is a growing trend in the shadow of the larger consumer interest in wellness products and experiences. Non-alcoholic bars and bottle shops are already common in cities like New York, Chicago, Denver, and Austin.

The demand is there, and Orlando social spots are happy to accommodate. More than just juices, spritzers, or sodas-with-lime, these concoctions are worth slowing down to sip and enjoy in a social setting you can sink into. As you explore the world of no and low ABV (NoLo, if you’re in the know) drinks, take these terms with you as you head up to the bar. mocktails in orlando

Alternative Spirits are zero-proof spirits meant to mimic a traditional liquor like whiskey, tequila, rum, or gin. They share the same flavor profile and mouth feel – a subtle bite and the slight burning sensation. Unlike their alcoholic counterparts, these spirits are not usually meant to be consumed neat. They work best mixed with other ingredients to expand and complement the flavor.

Distilled Spirits are a new product born of the NA movement. They are not meant to mimic the taste of traditional spirits, and instead offer a new experience altogether. Made from distillations of botanical extracts, these alcohol free spirits carry flavor notes like spice, citrus, or garden herbs. Popular brands are Seedlip, Three Spirit, or Amathyst.

Shrubs are a drinking vinegar that can be flavored with fruit, jam, aromatics, syrups, honies, or sugar, and are used as a mixer in cocktails and drinking sodas. Shrubs add kick and tang, making them a great fit for non-alcoholic mixed drinks. Find locally made shrubs at local farmers markets from Jill, of Smiling Goat Shrubs.

Bitters can be anywhere from 35-45% alcohol, but there are non-alcoholic bitter products too. You’ll find bitters used a few drops at a time to balance sweet and sour flavors, so you won’t be getting tipsy anytime soon off a few dashes. A closer cousin to vanilla extract than a can of beer, bitters’ alcohol content hardly adds to a drink’s overall ABV. mocktails in orlando

Orlando’s Spirit-Free Scene

Ivanhoe Village has a new antique shop and it’s a bit different. It’s also a “spirit free speakeasy, tasting lounge, and a bottle shop,” The BANDBOX Orlando owner Kevin Zepf describes it. A plush velvet couch furnishes the small storefront, beckoning in passersby to the intimate Art Deco interior. The antiques and artwork rotate but the moody speakeasy vibe is ever present, and it’s here you can try a menu of their sophisticated craft cocktails made with alternative spirits, like the “Hotsy-Totsy,” a spicy drink made with a tequila alternative spirit and complemented with lime and datil pepper shrubs. If you like what you taste, purchase the drink’s ingredients to make on your own. With seating for 6, it’s best to reserve a table online or rent the place out for your group. Sip and enjoy the venue’s other features like a photo booth, fresh popcorn, and curated vintage goods. If you’re headed to a holiday party, pick up a bottle of alternative spirit to bring as a host gift. Or, grab a drink to-go and enjoy it as you stroll Ivanhoe Village.s

Orlando locals know that this city is all about its neighborhoods, and Audubon Park’s new bar, The Neighbors, agrees. Find the bar and local goods shop upstairs at East End Market. The vibe is bright and fun Florida midcentury style amidst murals of bold tropical color, softened with Edison bulbs, spider plants, and monstera trestles. mocktails in orlando

On the bar menu, crafted by Brittany Diiorio, are signature cocktails with a local spin and story. But it’s the spirit-free and “lo-boys” (low alcohol by volume) that stand out from other bar menus. Diiorio said the idea for offering alternative drinks came from East End’s diverse crowd and her years behind the bar making mocktails on the fly. The menu’s spirit-free offerings don’t use alternative spirits, but rather offer something refreshing, flavorful, and low in sugar to sip. Try the “Ferncreek Farm Refresher,”– tart and bright with grapefruit, lime, tonic and rotating seasonal herbs sourced from Ferncreek Farms. For an early afternoon drink (they open at noon) ease into one of the Lo-Boys like the Lineage Pick Me Up, made with local Lineage coffee syrup, Grand Marnier, blood orange, Fernet Branca, and oat milk. Come to discover new menu offerings monthly. Stay to browse the local goods shop and pick up a handmade gift. mocktails in orlando

Downtown Orlando’s favorite living room, The Monroe, also has a spirit free menu. Creations here are tea-forward. For something comforting, try the “Undivided Attention,” a blend of English Breakfast tea, vanilla, orange bitters, cream, and cinnamon.

The Sunroom in the Mills50 district adds to its Floridian flavored menu with a few non-alcoholic mixed drinks marked by tropical notes. When the soggy humid evenings start to crisp up, try the “Living After Midnight,” a mix of citrus, vanilla, and cinnamon that tastes like Florida fall.

Orlandoans know Epcot as the theme park to drink your way around the world, but you can find NA options if you travel “220 miles from Earth” to Epcots Space 220. Located in the Mission: SPACE Pavilion, Space 220 is a table service restaurant with a small menu of non-alcoholic drinks livened up with on-theme ingredients like moon dust, butterfly pea powder, or Milky Way.

Where Clouds End, a mocktail at the Ette hotel

Right outside the theme parks the new boutique ETTE Hotel welcomes guests looking for a nourishing, wellness stay in Orlando. A dry hotel, poetic spirit free cocktails are available at the onsite restaurant, Salt & Cellar by Akira Back. “The Moon Child,” uses aromatic mist to set the scene for lemon, eucalyptus, and watermelon shrubs. “The Hidden Path” combines alternative gin and vermouth with caramelized strawberries, balsamic, and ginger for something that hits every taste profile.

At Tori Tori you’re encouraged to ask your bartender for a bespoke mocktail, but at its sister restaurant, DOMU, spirit-free drinks are on the menu. Try the Mango Lychee Lemonade, a sparkling beverage made with mango boba.

Nothing quenches thirst like a cold beer. Fortunately, NA beer isn’t the bitter, watery stuff it used to be. Look for the award-winning NA craft beers (think IPAs, Sours, Goldens, and Gose) by Athletic Brewing, available on bar menus like Thirsty Topher, Fiddlers Green, and Garp & Fuss.

If you think you’ll miss the relaxing effects of alcohol, the CBD infused beverage, VYBES, crafts their drinks with the hemp plant’s potential health powers in mind. Distributed by Sunshine State Distributing, you can find these California-made juice blends in bottle shops and served at establishments like Brass Tap, Craft & Common, Whipporwill, and Celery City Craft Beer Garden.

Alcohol free and low ABV drinks aren’t just a passing trend. Restaurants and bars are beginning to realize that 40% of Americans dont drink at all, and they’re joined by a growing group of drinkers looking for opportunities to dial it back. This holiday season, raising a glass to good health may leave you feeling energized. That’s something to celebrate.

This feature appears in the October/November/December issue of Edible Orlando.

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