Keegan Smith from Barsmith Cocktail Co. shows us how to make a booze-free cocktail aka mixtail

Before we get started, here’s a refresher on the 5 parts of a cocktail

  • The Base: The spirit of the drink. When using a neutral spirit, pretty much anything goes, but when using any other spirit, care and knowledge must be taken to accentuate or compliment the spirit’s flavour.
  • The Modifier/s: added to the base to change or alter the flavour. Modifiers are generally very strong in flavor and include liqueurs, syrups, fresh herbs, spices and muddled fruits.
  • The Mixer/s (also known as a lengthener): also influences flavor but not as much as the modifiers, generally offering length to the drink and diluting the flavours so that the drink is not too strong. These include fruit juices, dairy products, soda and of course, water.
  • The Garnish: must always reflect the flavours of the cocktail, must always be edible or at least not toxic and the major rule here is the garnish must always be fresh!
  • The Glassware: very important in a cocktail and in many cases it is part of the recipe. I like to start with what glass I am using and then build a recipe around the volume allowed in the glass.

So, if we take a classic cocktail recipe such as the Mojito, it can be dissected into these parts:

  • Base: Bacardi rum
  • Modifiers: Fresh limes, mint and sugar
  • Mixer: Soda water
  • Garnish: Mint sprig and lime wedge
  • Glassware: Collins glass

It’s fairly simple to turn this cocktail into a mixtail – simply remove the alcohol base as it does not affect the flavour. It’s also a great introduction to the Holy Trinity Law of classic cocktails, which helps to create the base for non-alcoholic cocktails. The Holy Trinity Law of the most popular classic cocktails (mojito, caipirinha, margarita) all roughly comprise of a spirit with lime and sugar.  The sugar balances the acidity of most ingredients found in the cocktail and the lime juice is there to balance the sugar.

If we had to exclude the spirit, we would have the starting base for our mixtail – one part sugar syrup to one part lime juice – which creates a nicely balanced base for our cocktail. Then, decide on whether you want a short drink, tall drink or something unique, then add the mixer of choice, and finally garnish.

So, using the principles above, here’s a recipe for a mixtail that has loads of personality, even without the alcohol.

The HM Summer Collins

20ml ODK Cucumber syrup
20ml Fresh lime juice
½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
2 slapped basil leaves
200ml watermelon juice

  • Add all the ingredients into a shaker and shake vigorously for about ten seconds.
  • Strain into a tall glass over ice, garnish with a basil boat.
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