The craft cocktail movement and a higher demand for nonalcoholic drinks has led bartenders to take a more creative approach to nonalcoholic drinks. No longer does getting a “mocktail” mean being limited to a soda or a drink labeled virgin. Gone are the days that these drinks are called mocktails, too, with many bartenders opting for less infantilizing terminology like “zero-proof” or “spirit-free.”
It’s easier than ever to find zero-proof drinks that pack in all of the flavor and complexity of a craft cocktail. Here are 12 different ones to try around metro Atlanta:
When you want something fizzy:
If you want a drink reminiscent of the Big Easy tipple the Ramos Gin Fizz without the Big Easy hangover, head to Aria, where they whip up the Smooth Operator. The foamy drink is made with orange allspice syrup, orgeat, lemon, and egg white (or aquafaba if you prefer a vegan beverage).
When you need a caffeine jolt:
No. 246 in Decatur is one of Atlanta’s best kept brunch secrets. There’s never a wait, and you can get wood-fired breakfast pizza. They also serve an espresso fizz that’ll wake you right up. The surprising combination involves a shot of espresso pulled and topped with ice and tonic, finished with an expressed orange peel. The drink is surprisingly balanced and will have you rethinking your usual cup of morning coffee.
For something bubbly and bright:
Also in Decatur, Leon’s Full Service has a tightly curated zero-proof drink menu. The Buzzer Beater—with honey, lemon, and club soda—is a versatile, easy-to-drink sipper. It’s effervesce makes it great for brunch on their patio, but it’s just as good for dinner when you need a drink that won’t compete with the flavors on your plate.
If you need a tropical getaway:
Among the extensive nonalcoholic options at Punch Bowl Social at the Battery is the Coco Fresca, a dreamy concoction of coconut milk, coconut water, simple syrup, sparkling water, and lime juice. Just close your eyes and imagine the beach while sipping.
If you just love lemon:
Donetto on the Westside is part of the Indigo Road hospitality group, whose founder, Steve Palmer, makes zero-proof inclusion a priority thanks to his own struggle with substance abuse. The most refreshing of Donetto’s lineup is the rosemary limonata. Slightly floral and very tangy, the drink is a concoction of lavender bitters, lemon juice, and rosemary.
For something dressed up:
Seedlip is a British brand of distilled nonalcoholic spirits, and one of the few places you can find it in Atlanta is at Bacchanalia. Here the bartenders shake Seedlip Spice (a blend of allspice, cardamom, and citrus) with apple and lemon juices, maple water, bitters, and vanilla. It’s a refreshing winter remedy in a luxe setting.
When you need to cool off:
Ponce City Market’s Botiwalla (soon to open a second outpost in Alpharetta) doesn’t shy away from spice in their flavorful Indian street food dishes. For those looking to temper the heat with something booze-less, they have a refreshing pineapple-turmeric soda. It’s simple—a syrup made with pineapple, turmeric, and lime juice, mixed with club soda—but effective. It’s also great for BeltLine travelers seeking a way to cool down in the summer heat.
If you want something elegant:
Biltong Bar‘s second location at the Shops Buckhead Atlanta features five creative nonalcoholic drinks. The star is the Witless Lion, a flowery, fruity blend of raspberry, lemon, orange flower water, and egg white, which keeps the texture velvety. The fragrant drink is served in a coupe glass to ensure extra fanciness.
For something smoky:
Boxcar, the new restaurant from the Hop City team in the West End’s Lee + White development, boasts a mammoth beer lineup and plenty of craft cocktails, but they made sure to include nonalcoholic options, too. The Smoked Lightning features lime juice, honey, smoked sorghum syrup, tonic, and mint. It’s sweet, but a smoky flavor gives the drink some heft—an often unusual find in zero-proof drinks.
If you can’t decide between sweet and tart:
Shrubs, also known as drinking vinegars, are a non-imbiber’s best friend. They’re sweet and tangy and make excellent bases for easy-to-drink, zero-proof cocktails. At Bellina Alimentari, shrubs are made in-house using seasonal ingredients and served with soda. Their most recent combos included pear spice and apple basil. If you’re looking for a perfect drink to pair with their charcuterie board, look no further.
When you still crave a Shirley Temple:
Zero-proof cocktails have come a long way from overly sweet virgin daiquiris, but there’s still a place in our hearts for the Shirley Temple, the childhood combo of Sprite, ginger ale, and grenadine. A proper one can be hard to find as many bars forgo grenadine and swap maraschinos with brandy-soaked cherries, but Davio’s in Buckhead makes a killer classic Shirley Temple, served in a tall glass replete with maraschino cherries. For a more grown-up take, don’t miss the the Sho-Nuff at Krog Street Market’s Ticonderoga Club. They blend together citrus cordial, lime, and tonic, and top it with a grenadine float. The result is a drink that’s sparkling and sweet, but with enough citrus that it’s far from cloying.