What is a Mocktail? The Beginner's Guide

July 13, 2022 by Helena Lombard

Remember the days when it was totally acceptable to ‘eyeroll’ friends who ordered mood-spoiling non-alcoholic drinks? At bars of all places! Well, those days are gone and we find ourselves in a completely different social setting. 

In case you haven’t heard, mocktails are no longer boring. In fact, this massive drinks trend has created an exciting canvas of flavors and everyone wants to play.  

So, what is a mocktail? And do mocktails have alcohol? Well for those of you who don’t know, mocktails are non-alcoholic drinks that are ordered and enjoyed by millions of Gen-Zers across the world. But it’s not just them. A lot of people are getting in on the mocktail action, with loads of zero-alcohol and low-ABV options popping up on menus worldwide.

While we still love our classic cocktails (like the obsessive kind of love), we can’t help getting excited about the mocktail and low-alcohol trend that’s flared up across the globe. It’s a new social scene that’s here to stay.  

The definition of a mocktail

Side-view of a woman sipping an orange colored mocktail through a straw

Many people think that a mocktail is simply a drink pretending to be a cocktail. And in a way, it is true, because you’ll be using the same bar tools, glassware, and even garnishes that are used in a cocktail. The only difference? You’ll be mixing up drinks without any liquor.  

Even though mocktails don’t use any alcoholic ingredients, they can be mixed up to be as sophisticated and refreshing as a cocktail.  

If you know what you’re doing, mocktails are magic.  

A short history of the mocktail

Close up of a Shirley Temple mocktail in a tumbler with ice and fresh strawberry

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the first time the word mocktail was cited was back in 1916. That means the mocktail has been around for at least a century—and probably longer. 

There is no doubt that the most famous mocktail in the world was, and still is, the Shirley Temple. There are a few claims as to who first invented the classic combination of grenadine, ginger ale, and lime juice. From Beverly Hills to as far as Hawaii, this Hollywood child star is well-traveled with loads of restaurants and establishments claiming they invented the Shirley Temple when she dropped by with her parents.  

The story we choose to believe comes from Time Magazine. According to an article, Shirley was dining at a restaurant with her parents. They were drinking Old Fashioneds and she started to get a little iffy because she couldn’t have one. (And who wouldn’t get upset! Are we right?) So, to stop this starlet’s tantrum, the panicked waiters invented something that looked similar(ish), cherries and all.  

Different types of mocktails

Group of friends clinking mocktail glasses and laughing

When it comes to flavor, there are loads of common mocktails that cater to every taste.  These are a few of our favorites.  

  • Blueberry Ginger Cooler: Made with fresh blueberries, lime juice, ginger syrup, and club soda served in a highball glass. This mocktail is the berries on a hot day. TOP TIP: This makes a great virgin Mother’s Day cocktail if you’re serving brunch outside. 
  • Citrus Smash: Replace your normal lemonade with something different. The base of a Citrus Smash is made with homemade lemon curd, fresh mint, and simple syrup, which is then topped up with ice and club soda.  
  • Mock Mint Julep: This is a great virgin version of the Mint Julep cocktail and is a great thirst quencher for a hot day. To make one you’re simply going to mix together 3 oz of unsweetened cooled tea with mint-infused sugar syrup. Poured on crushed ice with a squeeze of lemon with added mint sprigs for a burst of freshness, you’ll want to sip on this one all Derby long.  
  • Shirley Temple: She was the first one on the scene and she’s here to stay. Make some Shirley Temples for your bestie’s baby shower. Made with grenadine, lime juice, and ginger ale, it’s a fantastic drink that will still be around for a long time.  
  • Virgin Piña Coladas: For pineapple and coconut lovers, this classic mocktail is best served at poolside parties for a fun fiesta (without the headache later). Blend together ice, frozen pineapple cubes and juice, and coconut cream and you have the best slushie, ever.  
  • Sparkling Blood Orange Mocktail: If you’re keen to slow on the calories, choose a low-cal Sparkling Blood Orange Mocktail. To make one, you’re going to shake together freshly squeezed blood orange juice, lime juice, honey, and vanilla, then pour it over ice and top it up with seltzer.  
  • Roy Rogers: Made with cola and grenadine syrup, and traditionally garnished with a maraschino cherry, a Roy Rogers is a sweet sipper that goes down a treat in the heat.
  • Arnold Palmer: This classic non-alcoholic drink is suitable for the whole family. Combine iced black tea with lemon juice if you like things a little more tart, or add some sweetness with simple syrup or agave. Finish it off with plenty of ice and a lemon slice to garnish.
  • Strawberry Mojito Mocktail: A Strawberry Mojito mocktail is an easy and refreshing pour to serve up for a crowd. It’s a perfect option for summer parties, backyard BBQs, and enjoying poolside with your gang.

Popular ingredients of a mocktail

When it comes to popular mocktail ingredients, your creation is only as limited as your imagination. And just like cocktails, there are different flavor profiles and aromas to play with. If you want a sour mocktail, use lemon and lime. For a fizzy drink, top up your mocktail with club soda, ginger ale, ginger beer, or lemonade.

To give it a floral twist, add some elderflower, rose, or lavender syrup.  The best part? You can bottle your own and store it in the fridge. If you love herb-infused gin cocktails, make mocktail versions with rosemary, basil, and thyme. There really are no rules when it comes to common mocktails. The world is your oyster. Which, by the way, would make a brilliant garnish for a Virgin Mary.  

Required tools & equipment

Two bright red mocktails in tumblers with white and red straws with a background of bar tools

To make a mocktail, you’ll need exactly what you have in your cocktail kit. The most essential things are: 

  • Cocktail shaker: For chilling and diluting your mocktails. 
  • Strainer: To strain mocktails into serving glasses. 
  • Jiggers: These are used as measuring tools to make sure you add the right amount of liquid ingredients to your drink. 
  • Bar spoon: For stirring drinks like a pro. 
  • Glassware: Rocks glasses, martini glasses, high and lowballs. All the usual suspects will come into play. 
  • Muddler: To muddle citrus and other ingredients. If you don’t have one, use the back of a wooden spoon instead.  
  • A juice press or handheld citrus reamer: Because if life gives you lemons (or other citrus fruits), juice them for zesty mocktails. 
  • Y-peeler: For all those lemon, lime, and orange twists you use for garnish. 

Standard preparation of a mocktail

Earl Grey Tea & Tonic mocktail 

There are various ways to prepare mocktails. They can be shaken, stirred, frozen, and served hot or cold. As we said, everything a cocktail can do, a mocktail can do too, especially when served in the right kind of cocktail glasses

What mocktails taste like

Easy Mocktails

Not all mocktails are as sweet as the Shirley Temple. There is a massive array of flavors you can play around with. From bitter mocktails with hints of citrus to fruity tall drinks, low-calorie skinny mocktails, sweet calorific mocktails, and warming mocktails for a cozy night in.  

Read next: Fuel the Fire! How to Pair Cocktails with Spicy Food

How to order a mocktail

Friends enjoying Dry January mocktails

Great news – most bartenders and mixologists will be happy to whip up virgin cocktails when requested. So, if you are the designated driver on an evening out, or simply prefer to sip on something other than alcoholic mixed drinks, feel free to ask.

Here are a few tips to make the virgin drink hunt a little simpler on an evening out:

  • Ask your server whether they have an existing menu of non-alcoholic mocktail options. If they do, take your pick and place your order.
  • If they don’t, ask whether the bar person or mixologist would be open to trying a mocktail recipe. The odds are likely to be in your favor, but if you catch them at a very busy time, it might be better to sip on a soda or a fruit juice until it’s a little quieter.
  • If the mixologist is keen to try something new, it’s always fun to give them a little freedom behind the cocktail shaker. Virgin Mojitos and Shirley Temples are all good and well, but you never know what delightful drink a talented bar person might come up with when given some creative carte blanche.

The reason why mocktails are popular

Grapefruit mocktails served in ice-filled jars with a lemon slice garnish

It’s clear that mocktails aren’t just for Dry January or Sober October anymore. And they’re also more than just a trend to get in on for National Sober Day on the 14th of September. Mocktails and low-alcohol drinks are here to stay.   

The number one factor behind this trend is health. People are looking for healthier and cleaner premium drinks. Mocktails have opened up a door that allows us to self-regulate (here’s looking at you, waistline) still feel sophisticated, and enjoy something (a lot) fancier than a club soda or seltzer. And we love it.  


Mocktails are non-alcoholic drinks made with a combination of juices, sodas, infused syrups, and herbs to create sophisticated flavors.  

A mocktail is so much more than just juice. There are loads of interesting options made with a combination of juice, soda, infused syrups, and herbs.  

Shirley Temple is probably the most famous mocktail out there. But there are so many more, from virgin mojitos to berry coolers and sparkling fizzes.

People are making more informed decisions—and that includes choices about their health. Mocktails are a great, low-calorie solution for those who want to feel the part and have a sophisticated drink without the effects of alcohol.  

A mocktail is a non-alcoholic drink made with a combination of juices, sodas, infused syrups, herbs, and garnishes. One of the most common mocktails is the Shirley Temple.

Mocktails do not contain any alcohol.  

The word mocktail comes from ‘mock cocktail’. Mocktails have the same satisfying flavors as cocktails without any alcohol.  

From the Roy Collins, the Virgin Mary to the Shirley Temple and the Blueberry Ginger Fizz, there are loads of options to try out. You decide for yourself which one you like best.  

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