You no longer have to cosy up to a bottle of lemonade or keep re-ordering Coke if you’re after a booze-free night out. Many top restaurants are now offering inventive drinks for people who are skipping the alcohol for health, religious, philosophical and I-don’t-want-to-lose-my-provisional-licence reasons.
I wrote about this recently for Good Food, covering the national trend in inspired drinks that don’t have a drop of alcohol in them, as well as the best places in Sydney to enjoy these creations. They’re not just overpriced iced teas or hyped-up cordials, either. At Rockpool, Max Gurtler makes strawberry water with smoked verjus and yuzu (as an alternative to rosé); Bentley’s Phil Gandevia’s awesome non-alcoholic menu was one of the big inspirations behind the story, particularly his frothy wattleseed, West Indian Spice and buttermilk concoction – it’s pretty much the most drinkable thing you can have with a dessert; and Ambrose Chiang at Momofuku Seiobo has been reigning strong with his imagination-charged DIY experiments (like his peachy cloud formation of French earl grey tea, lightning-struck with French earl grey caramel).
It was great fun researching the features and among the many things I wish I could’ve squeezed into my word count was:
a) the amazing drinks that Ambrose gets into Momofuku Seiobo (besides the ones he hand-makes in the restaurant), which include a custom rose petal and geranium kombucha produced by Black Radish in Marrickville and a fantastic Loire juice made from gamay grapes – it’s so good that people literally come to the restaurant just to drink it and have even tried to buy bottles directly from Momofuku Seiobo; I’d be tempted to smuggle out some of that Les Ricasses, too.
b) how wild booze-free beverages can be – Orana has seasoned juices with a briny bunya nut solution and even plonked green ants into its non-alcoholic pairings; Biota will caramelise grapefruit or go for a cheese-board vibe by making a drink with pear, walnut and sheep’s whey.
To all that, I can only say cheers!