Making ‘mocktails’ that keep proof low and spirits high
Mid-December is peak season for holiday parties and year-end gatherings. For many, that means raising a glass of wine, beer or liquor. And for those who abstain, there are choices more creative than “virgin” versions of alcoholic originals.
For mixologist Meredith Barry, the co-owner and operator of Platypus in St. Louis’ Grove neighborhood, zero-proof drinks should be a culinary experience — “Not just a mix of pineapple and cranberry and orange juice, but something that's more elevated.”
“It's also an inclusive community experience because that's what bars are,” Barry added. “Bars are community spaces. They're supposed to be inclusive, and how do we make them more inclusive? It's about continuing to have alternatives for people.”
Barry joined St. Louis on the Air alongside Elizabeth Lockwood, the owner-operator of the Mocktail Lounge in St. Charles, to discuss how they’ve contributed to the growing trend toward low- to zero-proof drinks. The pair also shared tips on how to make flavorful, balanced and complex “mocktails” at home.
“It's all about really making sure that you have extra flavors — that somebody's not missing out on the actual liquor that's in the drink,” said Barry, because “liquor creates body and texture in a cocktail as well as nuanced flavor profiles, whether it's bourbon with those vanilla notes, smoky notes, or talking about gin, lots of juniper and fresh lime, and lemon and grapefruit.”
Lockwood said the key to making a mean mocktail is to avoid making it too sugary.
“I have found you have to stay away from the sweet, sickeningly sweet, because [otherwise] it's just like dessert. That's what you have last, and once you have that, you're done. You don't want anymore.” Lockwood advised making drinks with an airier, citrus profile. “Something bubbly.”
“St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is produced by Miya Norfleet, Emily Woodbury, Danny Wicentowski, Elaine Cha and Alex Heuer. Avery Rogers is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr. Send questions and comments about this story to firstname.lastname@example.org.