Parties often have the usual array of cocktails, drinks, and of course champagne, yawn, boring. Why not try something exciting and new? We have a few suggestions for creating drinks that are friendly to your waistline, budget and brain. Sweet sugary high calorie drinks are out, light and interesting ones are in. And if you have a guest who loves to drink, they can always add alcohol to it themselves (simply keep a handy bottle of their favorite spirit on the side), avoiding complaints about too little, too much alcohol etc. I’ve never been a big fan of drink recipes, individual tastes are so varied, some people prefer sweet, some like strong drinks, others weak or without any alcohol. Guests who don’t (or cannot) drink alcohol frequently find themselves with very few drink options, which is why I really like the concept of creating a base cocktail alcohol free mix can be enjoyed by everyone.
This year, I’ve selected two of my favorite non-alcoholic cocktails of all time. The first one is a non-alcoholic Mojito made with palm sugar instead of cane sugar. Palm sugar has the benefit of lower glycemic index. The second drink is an exotic alcohol optional intriguing cocktail that can be dressed up or down.
Making the Mojito is quick and easy. Simply gather the ingredients: fresh mint, fresh limes, palm sugar and ice and create the basic mix. While many recipes go by specific amounts, I prefer to begin with the ingredients and adjust to taste. Since with any crop of limes, there will be differences in sweetness and tartness from batch to batch, so I start out with 12 limes, half- them, squeeze out the juice with a Mexican lime press and set the juice aside. To make the palm sugar water, I add a few tablespoons to 2 cups of water until I’ve reached the desired sweetness level (go higher because it will be served over ice and diluted by the lime juice). I crush a half a batch of mint and allow it to steep in the palm sugar water mix, and set the other half aside as a garnish. I place all of the containers into the refrigerator until I’m ready to serve, making sure to strain out the crushed mint in the sugar water prior to serving. When it’s time to serve the drinks, simply combine the mint infused sugar water and lime juice over ice in a shaker, give it a good couple of shakes and pour the entire contents into a glass (ice included). Top with a dash of sparking water. Garnish with mint and slices of lime. Rum optional (try Mango Malibu Rum for an exotic twist). For table decor, try a tray of chocolate cigars, the Cuban flag and a book by Ernest Hemingway.
The exotic sparkler is quick too and can be made low-calorie simply by limiting the sugar containing ingredient(s). This drink goes very well with gin, and may be added if desired. For this recipe take the juice of 12 fresh lemons and set aside. Next, place a few bottles of sparkling water, grenadine syrup and rose water in the refrigerator until ice cold. One of the keys to serving great beverages is temperature- nothing dilutes flavor faster than melting ice– so all ingredients should be as cold as possible prior to serving. When guests arrive, simply add a few spoons of lemon juice and fill the rest of the glass with sparking water. Then add a dash of grenadine syrup for color and a dash of rose water for an exotic take on pink lemonade. Garnish with slices of lemon and mint. The exact ratios of the ingredients can (& should) be adjusted to taste; if a sweeter drink is desired, you can add more grenadine syrup however that will also add calories (no longer low calorie). Because the ingredients are mixed separately, simply combine them ahead of time until its perfect and then repeat the same steps when guests arrive. A vase of fresh red roses on the table and the aroma from a basket filled with pomegranites, lemons and white rose petals is a nice added touch. The healing properties and aroma of rose water is mind altering and a great drink for any occasion.
Finally, at the end of the night, Organic Jasmine Green Tea is a nice change from the standard boring cup of coffee.