By Courtney Tibbetts
It’s summertime, and you know what that means: longer days, hotter nights, suntans, and slamming down water. It all sounds great, until you wake up with a hangover after a balmy evening spent imbibing just a hair over the line, because you couldn't refuse one more delicious cocktail on the patio. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Warm weather is a shining opportunity for non-alcoholic cocktails; they offer all of the flavor you crave without the buzzing and dehydrating effects that you don’t.
We’ve all had to decide between one more drink with friends and the Saturday morning spin class that we rode out a three day waitlist to get into. Next time, stop by one of these places, where you can indulge booze-free without being the person who asks for something like “rum and Coke, hold the rum.” Don’t be that person with the bad bar jokes. Order your non-alcoholic drink with pride. It’s going to be good, you’ll see.
[Disclaimer: This is not an exhaustive list. You can always order a signature cocktail without alcohol, or ask any qualified bartender to create something custom. If you’re like me and would rather have a few options already laid out for you, here are a few places where you can find a non-alcoholic option actually
listed on the bar menu.]
Heritage has one non-alcoholic option on their menu: the Teetotaler. A combination of house made ginger beer and elderflower, the Teetotaler boasts the best flavor of all the drinks I tried, hands down. It’s both spicy and refreshing. I gulped it down before I even remembered to take a picture of it. The only thing that might make it better would be enjoying it outside. This place has a great staff of bartenders, so if ginger isn’t your thing, ask them to create something with the fresh ingredients they have on hand that day.
It’s not as easy to source out specifically non-alcoholic cocktails as one might think. But, if you’re looking for a place with several options, try Lemaire at The Jefferson. There are two big plusses here: they have two, if not three, non-alcoholic cocktails available and they’ve got patio seating. If you’re
looking for something more interesting than water but equally refreshing, order the Monument Avenue; it’s light and minty, and a great option for anyone avoiding sugar. Feeling something sweet and summery? Order the Hawaiian Breeze. It’s the prettiest mocktail I’ve had so far, and no one will know you’re not sipping on the real deal. Another option, which is no longer on their bar menu, is the Young Sport. By the time you read this, they may have discontinued it entirely, but it’s worth a shot to ask if they can make you one. It was my favorite of the three in terms of taste—full of flavor, without being overly sweet.
Graffiato may not offer a true “mocktail” but they do offer a fine selection of freshly made sodas, and that counts in my book. I tried the Blood Orange, which was light, sweet, and true to its name. I also ordered a DC Mule because it’s made with their house ginger beer, and I was there during Happy Hour. It was a two-birds-one-stone kind of thing, and I’d absolutely do it again. If you’re a ginger beer fan like me, add Graffiato to your list of ginger beers to try; bold and spicy, as it should be.
This one’s a bit of a secret. Regular patrons of Sabai know that there used to be a non-alcoholic section on the drink menu, but fresh eyes will only find the classic and signature cocktails on the new prints. If this classification applies to you, all you have to do is ask. The bartenders will happily whip up one of the
signature non-alcoholic cocktails based on your flavor preferences. There’s no shortage of options, from refreshing mint, to earthy heat, to citrus and tropical fruit. For optimal enjoyment, snag a patio seat and sip away as the sun sets.
Casa del Barco
If you’re sweaty from an afternoon at Brown’s Island and really just want some tacos and something to wash them down with, go to Casa del Barca and order a grapefruit crush without the vodka. I’m not a fan of Red Bull, so I asked for mine with more grapefruit juice, less Red Bull, and I was very pleased. It’s no tacos and margaritas marriage, but it’s close.
It’s not a whole lot to choose from, but now you know there are enough options out there to keep you
from having to late cancel your next weekend spin class. See you on the bike!