Welcome to 2021, where “mixology” isn’t reserved for just cocktails and craft bartenders anymore! If you’re curious about the mechanics of making balanced zero-proof drinks at home, Top Note Tonic has you covered.
To build a balanced zero-proof drink, start with a ratio of 1 part sweetener, 1 part citrus, and 2 parts mixer. From there, the possibilities are nearly endless. Of course, this ratio is just a starting point and doesn’t account for mixers with added sugar or citrus. If your choice of mixer includes added sugar and/or citrus, you may want to adjust your ratios to ensure you still wind up with a balanced recipe.
Get Creative With Sweeteners
The sweet part of your drink is where you get to have the most fun and is the easiest place to begin conceptualizing a recipe. Start with a flavor you like — think herbs and spices — and infuse that flavor into a simple syrup. The internet is home to a cornucopia of simple syrup recipes, so chances are that whatever syrup idea you have in mind already exists (phew, right?)!
Maple syrup, thinned-out honey and agave nectar are great options, too, and can be used on their own to sweeten a drink or as a replacement for sugar in your homemade syrup recipes (just make sure you do your research on substituting for sugar before you start cooking). We love Tapped Maple Syrup from our home state in Wisconsin.
Give It Some Intrigue
There are lots of fun ways to add depth and complexity to your recipes. Muddle in fresh berries, pitted stone fruits, grapes and other soft fruits to add flavor and sweetness without the heaviness of fruit juice. Alternatively, substitute a portion of your chosen sweetener for your favorite jam, preserves or fruit butter.
For a savory spin, muddle in a few sprigs of mint, basil, cilantro or other fresh herbs. Raw vegetables like cucumber, cherry tomatoes and peppers are crisp and refreshing additions to zero-proof drinks, too!
Don’t Forget The Citrus
Citrus is what’s going to tie your drink together. Without it, you’re likely to wind up with a recipe that tastes too sweet or too bitter. Lemon, lime and grapefruit all have high levels of acidity that will work wonders in your zero-proof drinks.
Opt For Quality Mixers
Coffee, tea, juices, sodas and tonics are all great options, but choose wisely! The mixer makes for half of your drink, so you’re going to want to put some thought into it. You can use one or multiple mixers, but remember, if your mixer contains sugar or citrus, you may need to adjust your recipe’s ratios to keep it balanced.
In the mood for something bubbly? Top Note’s lineup of sparkling mixers are made with less sugar than traditional soft drinks, contain natural, unique ingredients, and have the kind of sparkle that makes your nose tingle (you know what we’re talking about). We recommend our Ginger Beer in an Espresso Mule, Club Soda No. 1 in Sparkling Butterfly Pea Lemonade or Indian Tonic Water in a Maple Hibiscus Spritz.
Garnish With Flair
Have you ever heard the phrase “you eat with your eyes first”? It holds true for drinks, too, so don’t skimp on the garnish! Keep a supply of fresh herbs, cocktail cherries, and citrus (dehydrated citrus is great when you don’t have access to fresh) on hand to put the finishing touches on your drinks with style.
Bonus tip: garnish what’s in your glass, too, not just what’s on top! Flavored ice cubes are a fun and easy way to add visual interest and flavor to your zero-proof drinks. You can freeze anything from coffee to tea to juice, and if you’re feeling extra fancy you can even sprinkle in some fresh herbs or edible flowers.