January 01, 2024 by Anna-Bet Stemmet
Perfect for #DryJanuary shenanigans or folks who embrace an alcohol-free lifestyle all year round, our line-up of non-alcoholic French drinks are easy to make, delicious to sip, and filled to the brim with joie de vivre. So, come along and elevate your mocktail experience with a few hand-picked classics and raise a toast to sans-alcool sippers. Santé! 🗼⚜️
The history of mocktails in France
While France has long been celebrated for its vineyards and spirits, a recent trend towards mindful drinking has sparked a surge in the popularity of mocktails. This shift reflects a growing awareness of health and wellness and the desire for alternatives to alcohol in social settings.
Traditional non-alcoholic French drinks primarily consisted of juices, sodas like Orangina (invented in 1933), and flavoured milk drinks. Even though these were enjoyed by adults, they lacked the sophistication and variety of their alcoholic counterparts.
The rise of cafes and bistros introduced new non-alcoholic options like Diabolo, a summer drink made with lemonade and flavoured syrups. However, mocktails remained simple and limited.
The 21st century witnessed a significant shift. As health concerns and social attitudes towards alcohol evolved, people were on the lookout more sophisticated and flavourful non-alcoholic French beverages. This led to the emergence of dedicated mocktail bars and a growing selection of premium ingredients like artisanal syrups, kombucha, botanicals, and non-alcoholic spirits.
The mocktail movement gained further momentum in the 2010s, with innovative bartenders crafting creative drinks inspired by classic cocktails, utilising fresh herbs, spices, and unique flavor combinations. This increased awareness and appreciation for non-alcoholic drinks.
Today, France is considered a leader in the global mocktail revolution. The country boasts a thriving scene of bars, restaurants, and brands dedicated to offering premium non-alcoholic beverages. Popular non-alcoholic French drinks are no longer seen as substitutes but as exciting and flavourful drinks in their own right.
Without further ado, here are a few of our favorite popular non-alcoholic drinks in France to try at home:
Calolac is a beloved chocolate milk drink that hails from the well-known wine region of Bordeaux. It’s easy to make at home and makes for a very cosy drink when the weather is frosty. Simply warm up a cup of milk in a saucepan, add a tablespoon of high-quality cacao, sweeten it with sugar or honey , stir, and decant it into a heat-proof mug.
Read next: 10 Falernum Cocktails to Try
2. Diabolo Menthe
French children love Diabolo Menthe, and it makes a similarly playful mocktail for fun-loving grownups. To make it at home, combine 60ml mint syrup (easy simple syrup recipe here) with 180ml lemon-lime soda over ice in a tall glass.
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Keen to indulge in the tastes of the serene Normandy landscape? To bring a bit of the French countryside right into your home, simply add 180ml fresh pear juice to a glass with ice, top if off with 60ml sparkling water, and add a little extra sugar to taste if you prefer.
4. Gini Lemon
Gini Lemon is a French staple, manufactured and sold by Cadbury Schweppes. However, you can indulge in the joys of the sunny groves of Provence at home as well. This drink calls for bitter lemon syrup, which can be made at home with a bit of cinchona bark in the mix. Alternatively, you can use bitter lemon soda, which is sold commercially in many parts of the world.
If you are using the syrup, add 30ml bitter lemon syrup to 60ml fresh lemon juice, and top it off with 120ml sparkling water. If you’re using the bitter lemon soda, simply add the fresh lemon juice to the soda over ice and enjoy.
Orangina is another well-known French refreshment, widely enjoyed at social gatherings and picnics. To make it for yourself, combine 60ml of fresh orange juice, a sprinkling of lemon zest, and 180ml of sparkling water in a tall glass over ice. You can also add a little sugar to taste.
6. Café Au Lait
In France, equal parts steamed milk and strong hot coffee are combined to make the perfect mellow beverage known as a Café Au Lait. To make one, combine equal parts hot French roast coffee and steamed milk in a cup, reserving the milk foam. Stir it gently, spoon the foam on top, and serve hot (ideally with a flaky croissant!).
7. European-Style Hot Chocolate
European-style Hot Chocolate is yet another non-alcoholic drink that goes very well with a fresh croissant (or a dainty little Madeleine). To make yourself this mug of magic, combine 1.5 cups whole milk, 0.5 cup whipping cream and 170g chopped, high-quality chocolate (65-70% cacao). Place the saucepan over medium heat and warm the mixture, whisking frequently, until the mixture is steaming hot (but not boiling), and the chocolate is melted and smooth.
If preferred, you can add some cocoa powder to deepen the chocolate taste or add sugar to make it sweeter. Divide the hot chocolate between two mugs, top with some whipped cream, and a dusting of cinnamon for extra cheer, and enjoy.
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