Left and right: Solomon Siegel’s “Green Tea Mojito” and “The Bucks”. Center: “Berry Blossom” by Stephen Quigley.


For those who do not drink alcohol – for faith, morals or resolutions, the dedicated drivers, the women with child, and those in recovery, I bravely entered Clive’s Classic Lounge to speak with Shawn Soole, to get his take on mocktails. I say bravely, because Shawn’s livelihood is all about alcohol. Put bluntly, people visit Clive’s to drink: to order an artful cocktail prepared by Liquid Revolutionist Shawn Soole and his crew, and created with liquors and house made syrups, served up with hand carved ice balls.


Executive Mixologist at the Art of the Cocktail Festival for the past three years, Shawn graciously shared what he offers those not-imbibing. He brought out his Soda Stream and whipped up a delicious pear and cucumber soda. These custom sodas are standard, and Shawn has at least half a dozen syrups always ready in the fridge. When a large group comes in, he will often take the time to create a spontaneous mocktail for the dedicated driver, free of charge.


Here at Clive’s, Shawn’s bar “has all the arsenal to concoct mocktails, but really, maybe only 5 or 6 get made on a busy Friday night. Booster Juice is the mocktail bar, and you pay for it.”  It’s a valid and honest point; the need to balance out cost, time, and profit. He isn’t convinced that people would be willing to pay for a premium mocktail.


Over at Stage Wine Bar, I met with Stephen Quigly, who runs the bar with exquisite hospitality. He handed me the drink menu, and listed right there under the Cocktails, Martinis and Manhattans was the ‘For the Drivers’ section, listing three original mocktails.


I asked for a Berry Blossom, and watched as Stephen shook it all up, poured it in a martini glass, and handed me a lovely drink. There was a thin layer of “mousse” on the top, which he drew a flower design through with raspberry coulis. What a treat!


As I sipped, I asked Stephen how long these drinks had been on the menu. He said he decided to do it when the drinking and driving crackdown came into effect. He noted “I sell many of them. I probably cut off making them around 10pm because I get tired of making them!” It’s Friday night at 6pm, I’ve been sitting at the bar for less than an hour and he’s already made four Berry Blossoms and one Fauxjito. At $4.95, no one gives it a second thought – a welcome and refreshing option other than the standard lime and soda water, cranberry juice, or pop, which is often about as creative as it gets for the abstainer.


Stephen uses the example of a vegetarian, looking for an option in restaurants. “Often cooks will just omit the protein and load the plate up with extra vegetables. It’s thoughtless. It’s a customer driven market and we’re here to serve. Give the people what they want, which is choice.”


Over at Fire and Water Fish and Chop House in the Marriott Hotel, Bartender Solomon Siegel also brings up the vegetarian, this time explaining how chefs have a difficult time replacing meat on their menus, because they just really like meat!  Some bartenders balk at the idea of creating a mocktail, because for one, it’s impossible to create a replica cocktail, without the booze. And two, alcohol is the bartender’s passion. Being creative with alcohol, its complexity and herbal essences is where it’s at.  “Water is a poor conductor” says Solomon. “I prefer to make low alcohol, rather than no alcohol drinks.”  And he does this brilliantly with tea infusions, vermouth, sherry, and fortified wines.


That said, he quickly produced two cocktails, minus the alcohol, called The Bucks and Green Tea Mojito. Using his Perlini carbonator, he poured these drinks into specifically purchased tall glasses to complement beautiful bars of ice, and adorned the drinks with an aromatic posy of mint, and half a lime saucer respectively. Refreshing, flavourful, and prepared to order, these mocktails go for $4.50 – a delicious price.


Hopefully, bartenders everywhere will soon take the time, as do Soole, Quigly and Siegel, to create a few tasty non-alcoholic beverages. Then they can put them on the drinks menu, and serve them up with just as must care as they do their boozy creations. Even sparkly sodas taste better in beautiful glasses and stemware, as Siegel expertly demonstrated. Cheers indeed!


— Noreen Scarth

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