Eating + Drinking

Mocktail Hour: The Best Booze-Free Drinks in NYC

Going dry doesn’t have to be blasé. These alcohol-free libations are shaken, stirred, and straight-up delicious.

Photo by Karly Gomez/Unsplash

Being on designated driver (or subway companion) duty can be a drag. But with some of the world’s best mixologists and beverage gurus whipping up tasty and Instagram-ready mocktails, you don’t have to miss out on all the fun. Whether you’re doing it for your health or simply refuse to spend another morning nursing a hangover triggered by tequila, these only-in-NYC sips are strong enough to skip the booze.

When you’re craving: a Raspberry Smash
Try the: Island Duck at Ladybird

The millennial drink of the century is dressed to the nines inside this vegetable-focused tapas bar. Mixologists Jane Danger and Alla Lapushchik crack open a can of raspberry La Croix before mixing it with fresh flavors like lime, orange, mint, and a hit of pineapple gum syrup. Don’t be surprised to see this sparkly sensation pop up all over your social media feed. 111 East 7th Street (between First Avenue and Avenue A), East Village

mocktails nyc
On-trend sips at Ladybird.

When you’re craving: bourbon
Try the: Cold Fashioned at Paper Plane Coffee Co.

This may be the only appropriate way to drink like Don Draper in the morning. The same ingredients you love in an old-fashioned (Angostura bitters, cherry, and an orange peel) are stirred up by these Brooklyn baristas. Taking the place of the commonplace bourbon, though, is a slightly sweetened cold brew coffee. The Cold Fashioned isn’t on the menu, but it’s one of Paper Plane’s signature drinks nonetheless. 68 North 7th Street, Williamsburg

Photo courtesy of Paper Plane Coffee Co./Facebook

When you’re craving: red wine
Try the: Cosmonot at Gramercy Tavern

Indulge in a proper Wine Wednesday without the histamine headache immediately afterward. Find yourself a place at the bar inside Danny Meyers’s acclaimed tavern and order a Cosmonot, a shaken blend of Pinot Noir juice, grenadine, and citrus served in a martini glass. Even Samantha Jones wouldn’t resist sipping this while eyeing her next suitor across the way. 42nd East 20th Street (between Broadway and Park Avenue South), Gramercy Park

When you’re craving: a shrub
Try the: Head Games at Nitecap

It’s hard not to fantasize about all the playful cocktails at this Lower East Side speakeasy, but this mocktail is what dreams are made of. Even in the dead of winter, head bartender Lauren Corriveau wants to get you heated Jamaican allspice and cardamon aromatics, grapefruit juice, blood orange, and a hint of ground cinnamon. 151 Rivington Street (between Suffolk and Clinton Streets), Lower East Side

Photo courtesy of Nitecap/Facebook

When you’re craving: mead
Try the: Stingless at Existing Conditions

If your lips are yearning for a final taste of the lazy, hazy rays that won’t have you knocked out on a hammock until the next morning, have Dave Arnold make you a drink. The former Booker & Dax mixologist has been stirring up some of Greenwich Village’s most ambitious cocktails since last summer, including this booze-free bubbly made from honey produced by the only natural pollinator of vanilla orchids. 35 West 8th Street (between Fifth and Sixth Avenues), Greenwich Village

When you’re craving: a sour
Try the: Buckwheat Bubbly at Reception Bar

The non-alcoholic menu at this modern Korean cocktail bar is concise and exciting, especially those with bubbles. Owner Katie Rue created her own carbonation machine to get the tight, focused bubbles she wanted in her effervescent, feel-good drinks like this sparkling chrysanthemum sipper, made also with buckwheat, goji honey, and lemon. 45 Orchard Street (between Grand and Hester Streets), Lower East Side

Photo courtesy of Reception Bar/Facebook

Chat with an experience adviser for reservations or find more ways to treat yourself well without the next-day guilt.