5 Must-Try Mocktails from Local Restaurants

by | Jan 13, 2020

Civil Libation
Civil Libation Purple Rain

Dry January is a thing. And if it’s your thing, we’ve got you covered. When your old alcohol acquaintance be forgot—at least for 31 days—you can still enjoy the craftiest of cocktails in the 757. And if a drink without booze sounds like a burger without beef, think again.


Sassy and Fresh

Civil Libation

At Civil Libation in Virginia Beach, beverage manager and resident artist April Tomas created the funky flowchart-inspired menu and illustrated it with her colorful vintage vibe paintings. Sassy named selections under dry libations include “Giggle Juice,” “I Don’t Give a Fig” and “Purple Rain,” all crafted with seasonal ingredients like Regular Chef berry jam or homemade fig and sage syrup.


Berry Good Times

Cobalt Grille

At Cobalt Grille, also in Virginia Beach, mixologist Windsor Swink serves up a love potion inspired by the sexy baritone of Barry White and a crackling fire. Wanting to keep her wits about her during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, she conceived of the “Berry White Fauxjito.” Cranberries, white cranberry juice, blood orange and mint bring together the full holiday color palette for a soulful sip you can’t get enough of.


Cool Weather Refresher


Tori Siebels, manager at Esoteric in the Beach’s ViBe District, created the “Ginger Brew” to celebrate the season, the region and the wild popularity of kombucha. She combines Blue Ridge Ginger Kombucha, fresh lemon juice and an in-house spiced apple puree made from fresh apples, cloves, turmeric, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. This cool weather refresher gets topped with a piece of candied ginger.


Find Your Flavor

FIN Seafood

Robert Gregory, house mixologist at FIN Seafood in Newport News, offers an off-menu “bespoke experience” for alcohol-free guests. After inquiring about flavors you can live without, your preference for sweet or tart and any allergies, he will concoct a mocktail with perfectly balanced sugar, acid, non-alcoholic bitters and the likes of soda or, in winter, cider. Cold months also call for baking spices like cinnamon and star anise for richer, fuller flavor.


Songs and Spirit Animals

Four Eleven York

At Norfolk’s Four Eleven York, bar manager Kevin Pruett riffs on the bartender’s “off the cuff” approach with his on-menu “Bartender’s Experience.” In an exchange that infuses a little fun into the mix, he will ask you your name, your spirit animal and your favorite music genre. Noting that mocktails can be even more challenging to create than other cocktails, he lets his imagination be his guide. So, if your spirit animal is seagull and your music preference jazz, he will dip into his repertoire of vegetable and fruit juices; purees, jams, and jellies; and herbs and spices to perhaps produce a lounge-y Manhattan-style drink with a garnish that evokes a bird in flight.


The guys and gals at these five establishments agree that perfectly balanced flavors and the freshest ingredients are key to inspiring mocktails that will sustain you through one month…or 12.


Cobalt Grill
Photo by Jim Pile

Berry White Fauxjito

AKA Berry White’s Love Potion

By Windsor Swink, Cobalt Grille, Virginia Beach

4 to 5 fresh cranberries

Blood orange slice

Fresh mint

1/2 ounce simple syrup

2 ounces white cranberry juice

Soda water

Muddle the berries, orange slice, mint and simple syrup. Add juice and ice. Shake to combine. Top with soda water. Enjoy!

Betsy DiJulio is a full-time art teacher, artist and curator with side hustles as a freelance writer, including for Coastal Virginia Magazine, and a vegan recipe developer and food stylist and photographer for Tofutti Brands.

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