24 Drinks You Should Order If You're Not Drinking


As much as we might hate to admit it, taking a break from booze can sometimes be a good idea.


Drinking is lovely, hangovers less so.

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1. A virgin White Lady

“I add elderflower cordial and grapefruit juice into this classic combination of lemon juice, egg white and sugar syrup. This virgin twist stays true to the ultra-elegant original drink, while the elderflower with the grapefruit creates a delicate, balanced flavour pairing.”

– Alfie Amayo, brand ambassador for City of London Distillery, London

ID: 8018773

2. A St Clements

A St Clements

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Jamie Baxter

“I give a lot of talks to bartenders and the public about Burleighs Gin (the gin I distill). These tastings can be quite alcoholic events so it can be difficult to remain, shall we say, ‘capable’. I find most soft drink options far too sweet, so please don’t tell anyone, but there might not always be gin in my G&T or red snapper. I also love a St Clements. Made with fresh orange juice and bitter lemon, it’s lovely and refreshing and works well with or without gin!”

– Jamie Baxter, director and master distiller at 45 West Distillers, Leicestershire

ID: 8010264

3. A virgin Collins

“The Tom Collins is a classic cocktail made with gin. Remove the gin, however, and you have the basis for a fantastic booze-free cocktail. It’s a simple combination of fresh lemon juice, sugar syrup, and soda water, and it’s easy to customise or twist up by substituting the sugar syrup for any sweet syrup or cordial they have in the bar (I like elderflower cordial), and by switching out the soda water for any other fizzy drink (try Ting, a grapefruit soda that is popular in the Caribbean).”

– Emma Stokes, creator of Gin Monkey, London

ID: 8009850

4. An iced coffee

An iced coffee

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“Most people who love coffee have had iced coffee, but I make a richer version with double cream and mint syrup – almost like a virgin espresso martini. It’s great in the summer, and for when an espresso just won’t do.”

– David Smith, bar manager at The Anchor Inn at Seatown, Dorset

ID: 8010549

5. Syrup and soda

Syrup and soda

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“A little simple syrup and soda is a more interesting alternative to a soft drink, and is carb- and wheat-free! Also, see if your local bar stocks ODK syrups – they’re a great alternative to Monin.”

Tamatha-Ann Brider, ex-bartender and restaurant manager, Bristol

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6. A virgin Bloody Mary

“The Virgin Mary is not only a perfect hangover cure but also a complex and diverse drink that allows your bartender to really be creative. Also, on top of this almost every bar in the world has the ingredients for this drink and the ability to put it together.”

– David Coveney, bartender at Aperitivo at the Oliver Conquest, London

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7. Angostura bitters and lemonade

Angostura bitters and lemonade

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“Use either Ting or lemonade, with a good 5-6 dashes of Angostura bitters. The bitters ARE alcoholic, but it’s absolutely minuscule, I promise. With Ting, this drink tastes like those cola bottle gummies for some reason! This is also a great hangover cure.”

– Gergő Muráth, bar manager at Trailer Happiness, London

ID: 8010638

8. A grown-up Shirley Temple.

“This is the ‘Keep Sober Cocktail’, a tasty little nonalcoholic number with a bit of bite to the flavour. It’s basically grenadine, tonic water, and lemon syrup. It looks similar to a Shirley Temple, but this is like Shirley’s big sister…if Shirley’s sister was teetotal, which, let’s face it, no one prior to 1987 was. The tonic gives an adult dry bitterness to the drink with a citrus tang from the lemon.

“I was taught this recipe in a bar in Stirling circa 1998 and subsequently found it in The Savoy Cocktail Book, where it forms part of the single page (of 280) dedicated to nonalcoholic drinks.”

– Paul Donegan, brand ambassador for Pickering’s Gin, Edinburgh

ID: 8011179

9. A virgin Mojito

A virgin Mojito

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“This is one of the only nonalcoholic cocktails I don’t mind making. When made well it’s a tasty drink and really refreshing – just go easy on the sugar. Plus it’s easy to make. No-alcohol drinks have to be easy to get out quickly when you’re working behind a bar.”

– Kyle Wilkinson, bar manager at Blind Pig, London

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10. A nonalcoholic beer

A nonalcoholic beer

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“Not a big fan of sugar, I generally avoid the obvious soft drinks. Instead, I have been known to horrify bartenders and fellow drinkers by ordering nonalcoholic beer. If you’re expecting beer, this drink can be ghastly, as it’s more a ‘near-beer’ than the real thing. Malta, a Caribbean molasses ‘near-beer’ soft drink, is the one I drink most often.

“Last night I spotted Nanny State from Brewdog at the Shakespeare pub in Birmingham. We’d been drinking all day and it seemed worth a try. It was surprisingly passable. It will never fool anyone into thinking they’re drinking proper beer, but for me at least, it fills the gap when I’m not in the mood for more alcohol or for a sparkling water with Angostura bitters.”

– Jared Brown, master distiller at Sipsmith, the Cotswolds

ID: 8009935

11. A pimped-up pink lemonade.

“My usual trick here at The Dark Horse is to grab whatever berries are in season (strawberries, raspberries, or whatever), and throw a few in a shaker with 20ml of citrus and the same of honey: a quick shake and into a highball glass topped with bitter lemon.

“I believe it to be statistically impossible to make anything other than a damn tasty drink this way, but if your bar isn’t the type to have fresh fruit to hand, ask for apple juice muddled with a few mint leaves, topped with bitter lemon, and you’ve got a sublime soft cocktail that’s just as tasty as the real thing.”

– Louis Lewis-Smith, owner of The Dark Horse, Bath

ID: 8018684

12. A mint soda

“Soda and mint syrup, with some fresh mint and a slice of lime added in if your local bar stocks it. This one is perfect for summer, when mint is in season and you’re in the mood for something refreshing. If you are using real mint, make sure it’s sweet mint, as you can really taste the difference.”

– David Smith, bar manager at The Anchor Inn at Seatown, Dorset

ID: 8010455

13. Tea


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Opium Bar

“Tea is the answer! Nonalcoholic cocktails are almost universally crap. You get fruit juice with a load of sugary syrups added and an umbrella and an orange flag shoved in the top and are charged £5 for the pleasure. And pre-packaged soft drinks are almost always worse. At Opium we serve an awesome selection of Chinese teas. Great teas are becoming more and more common in top cocktail bars with companies like the London Tea Club and the Rare Tea Company showcasing their wares.

“Bartenders use the teas for infusions and to add tannic and herbaceous notes to their cocktails, and will usually serve you a pot of tea if you ask, although they are not often listed on menus!”

– Damien Williams, general manager at Opium Bar, London

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14. Pimm’s-style iced tea

“Iced tea jazzed up with elderflower and garnished Pimm’s-style with fresh cucumber and berries is my go-to mocktail for a number of reasons: It tastes amazing, it can pass as a Pimm’s in disguise, and it contains both citrus and tannins, which mimic the flavours found in an alcoholic cocktail.

– Lee Shephard, bar manager and consultant at Tiny Leaf, London

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15. A Seedlip-tini

“Seedlip, ‘the world’s first nonalcoholic spirit’, combines six individually distilled barks, spices, and citrus peels to create a unique and complex blend, and a sophisticated alternative to alcohol. If your bar stocks it, ask them to make you a Seedlip and tonic, or a Seedlip-tini (a martini done with Seedlip).”

– Ben Branson, founder of Seedlip Drinks, Buckinghamshire

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16. An OJ and lemonade

“Affectionately known to a small group as ‘petrol with a lemon, orange surprise’. It’s cold, it’s long, and it’s full of goodness. Vitamin C-rich orange juice and Fever-Tree lemonade (if the bar stocks it). If I’m going nonalcoholic sign me up for this bad boy any day!

– Josh Linfitt, bartender at Worship Street Whistling Shop and brand ambassador for Tarquin’s Gin, London

ID: 8009835

17. Cranberry juice and ginger beer

Cranberry juice and ginger beer

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Mudassar Dar

“Fresh cranberry juice, some ginger beer (the nonalcoholic kind), lime, mint, sugar, and you can top it with a little soda water if you like! It’s a really refreshing drink and the ginger beer gives it a fizzy kick a bit different from a normal fruit juice.”

– Mudassar Dar, supervisor at Revolución de Cuba, Leeds

ID: 8018709

18. A virgin toddy

“If you’re staying off the booze, and don’t want a drink packed with sugar, this is a great drink that allows the bartender to show off with flavours. It wards off the cold weather and is actually pretty good for you!

“With just hot water, lemon, and honey as the base, you should be able to order it in any bar. It can be customised with a variety of citrus, a selection of spices or herbs (e.g. cloves, cinnamon, rosemary, thyme etc.) and you can swap out the honey for agave or perhaps a house-flavoured syrup or shrub (vinegar-based cordial).”

– Phillip David, freelance bartender and writer, New York

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19. Juice and honey

Juice and honey

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Daniel Kaizen

“This works for teetotallers or for anyone suffering from a hangover. There’s an often-cited juice hangover cure consisting of apple, carrot, and ginger juice, so if you can get your hands on that, you’re golden. Otherwise, juice with a little honey is a great (healthy) nonalcoholic drink.”

– Daniel Kaizen, bartender at Loves Company, London

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20. Soda and bitters

“Angostura bitters can be found on almost any bar and adding a few drops of these into a soda water makes a simple and refreshing drink. Although bitters themselves contain alcohol, only a tiny amount is added, making the drink not at all potent. As I’m sure you can guess given the name, their addition will make your drink bitter, with a subtle herbal flavour. You can also try mixing it up with different flavours – rhubarb bitters work well too.”

– Holly Willcocks, bar manager at MEATmission, London

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21. A fruity Fizz

A fruity Fizz

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Stelios Stamatios Roump

“Fruit juice topped with soda water! This one is an orange and cranberry juice mix. The Fizz can be garnished with an orange slice and maraschino cherry, or for a more tropical feel, toss in some halved strawberries, pineapple, or kiwi chunks. This will fizz on your tongue, but won’t leave you with a poorly head.”

– Stelios Stamatios Roump, bar manager at Encore and owner of Bar Stories, Athens

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22. A “Gibson in disguise”

A "Gibson in disguise"

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Michele Reina

“Some believe that the original Gibson martini was created for a teetotal American diplomat, who drank chilled water garnished with a cocktail onion, as opposed to an olive or twist, to disguise it from the gin versions!

This cocktail is a tastier version made with apple juice, an extra-dry vermouth reduction, and alcohol-free botanical bitters from the Reina FBS laboratory (regular bitters will do too).”

– Michele Reina, general manager at Looking Glass Cocktail Club, London

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23. A nonalcoholic flip

“For the more adventurous drinkers. See if your bartender can make you a virgin flip (a cocktail that contains a whole egg). I call this drink the Pineapple Upside-Down Cake. It’s pineapple juice, apple juice, maple syrup, lemon, and of course, a whole egg.”

– Josh Powell, head bartender at 68 & Boston, London

ID: 8018604

24. A cucumber seltzer

“Sparkling water, chopped cucumber, fresh mint, and a little elderflower cordial. If you like, ask for a squeeze of lemon to offset the sweetness. I like this for a good spring/summer nonalcoholic drink. It’s long and refreshing and because it’s not cloyingly sweet and tastes quite fresh and healthy, you can have a few without getting bored of it.”

– Joe Wood, beverage director at Spirited Mixers, London

ID: 8018629

25. And if all else fails…just order a Shirley Temple

“Ginger beer plus grenadine. I’m a big fan of ginger beer and this drink just gives it a bit more sweetness, making it more refreshing. Just make sure your bartender doesn’t make it too sweet, and if they have homemade grenadine it’s even better!”

– David Smith, bar manager at The Anchor Inn at Seatown, Dorset

Because at the end of the day, if you like something, you should just order it, and to hell with sophistication. Your bartender won’t judge you…much.

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