Matcha and Mint Mocktail

You might have noticed that Saint Patrick’s Day has become something of a drinking holiday. I’m not a huge fan of this whole turn-a-meaningful-day-into-a-themed-drinking-day thing, because I tend to think that those days were already important to people for reasons other than drinking. I also think that drinking is something we should incorporate into our every day cuisines, and not something we should cram into wild days of excessive partying. So, if you’re looking for something to drink today that doesn’t require booze, we’ve got a great Matcha and Mint mocktail recipe for you. It’s green. Total coincidence. –Andrew

Matcha and Mint Mocktail

Matcha and Mint Mocktail

1 oz Matcha Syrup
1 oz Lime Juice
Mint Leaves
Tonic Water

To make the matcha syrup: combine a cup of water, a cup of white sugar, and 2 tablespoons of matcha green tea powder in a sauce pan over low heat. Whisk everything together until the sugar is melted and the matcha is dissolved. Bottle and refrigerate.

To make the mocktail: combine the syrup and lime juice in a highball glass. Add the leaves of a sprig of mint and gently muddle. Then fill the glass with ice, top with tonic water, and give a good stir. Enjoy!

Matcha and Mint Mocktail

Matcha – a powder made from carefully selected and dried green tea leaves – is a fun thing to add to mocktails and cocktails alike. It’s the same ingredient that goes into Japanese green tea, of tea ceremony fame. Matcha adds earthy botanical notes and a bit of tannic astringency – something that you might get from some spirits but that can be hard to replicate in a mocktail. A syrup made from matcha is also a deep, rich green color, which can make your drinks sparkle green.

Matcha and Mint Mocktail

Mint and lime are, it goes without saying, amazing and delicious together. Add in the matcha syrup and you have the foundation of a pretty good mocktail – sweet and tart and minty and earthy and richly green.

Matcha and Mint Mocktail

To that we add tonic water, and we can’t emphasize enough: real tonic water, made with actual quinine, is the only way to go for mocktails. (I mean, it’s important in cocktails too, but it’s a lot harder to fake flavors in a mocktail, since mocktails don’t benefit from the powerhouse flavors of booze.) Tonic water adds refreshing effervescence (and this is a really refreshing drink) and some of the bitterness that can be missing from mocktails. Bitter is one of the ways our brains recognize things that are really dangerous (like poison!) or really fun (like coffee!) or a little bit of both (like alcohol!). It helps elevate this drink into a legitimately complex and grownup mocktail.

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Glassware by Liquorary

Photo Credits: Nole Garey for Oh So Beautiful Paper

Bittersweet Coffee Mocktail

We find ourselves in the odd predicament of a winter snow and ice storm in mid-March, something that doesn’t happen too often in DC. So I’m in the mood for a dark and stormy mocktail to complement our weather: A Bittersweet Coffee Mocktail. –Andrew 

Bittersweet Coffee Mocktail Recipe

Bittersweet Coffee Mocktail

2 oz Cold-Brewed Coffee
3/4 oz Grapefruit-Vanilla Shrub
3/4 oz Rosemary Syrup

To make the rosemary syrup: combine a cup of sugar, a cup of water, and a sprig of rosemary in a saucepan over low heat. Stir frequently until the sugar has melted, then remove from heat and allow the rosemary to infuse for 1o-20 minutes. Strain out the rosemary, bottle the syrup, and refrigerate.

Combine the coffee, grapefruit-vanilla shrub, and rosemary syrup in a mixing glass and stir with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a candied cherry and grapefruit peel.

Bittersweet Coffee Mocktail Recipe

Coffee is an incredibly versatile ingredient for mocktails, providing complex, bitter, and astringent notes that evoke bold spirits without the booze. Here, it serves as the backbone for a rich, bittersweet mocktail with an acidic edge.

But we didn’t want to just offer a glass of coffee. We also used a newly-released shrub from Element Shrub, one of our local DC-area makers. This shrub combines grapefruit and vanilla with apple cider vinegar; the bitterness of the grapefruit and the smoothness of the vanilla together evoke, surprisingly, chocolate – which adds another rich, dark layer to this drink.

Bittersweet Coffee Mocktail Recipe

So, sweet chocolatey coffee – sounds delicious, but that’s not a mocktail. We needed another ingredient to elevate our drink, to give it that botanical edge that so many great cocktails have. Rosemary syrup is a versatile ingredient for both mocktails and cocktails, so don’t feel bad about making a full bottle of the stuff – you’ll use it faster than you think. It’s savory and herbaceous, a flavor profile reminiscent of herbaceous spirits like gin and dry vermouth.

Bittersweet Coffee Mocktail Recipe

As always, the goal with a mocktail isn’t to make a facsimile of a cocktail – it’s to make a drink that’s every bit as grown up and sophisticated as a cocktail, but without the booze. It doesn’t have to be complicated – just three ingredients are enough here.

Just remember, it is full of caffeine. Don’t drink too many of these late at night.

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Glassware by Liquorary

Photo Credits: Nole Garey for Oh So Beautiful Paper

A Matcha Coconut Mocktail

Now that March is here, and with it a very early spring, we thought we’d spend some time with non-alcoholic mocktails, something we haven’t done since last January. So let’s start off with a bright, fresh Matcha Coconut Mocktail recipe that is perfect for this weather and all the buds that are just starting to pop on our trees. –Andrew

Matcha Coconut Mocktail Recipe

Matcha Coconut Mocktail Recipe

Matcha Coconut Mocktail

1 oz Matcha Syrup
1 oz Coconut Milk
1 oz Mint Tea, Unsweatened

3/4 oz Pineapple Juice
3/4 oz Lime Juice
Powdered Turmeric

To make the matcha syrup: combine a cup of white sugar, a cup of water, and a tablespoon of matcha powder in a sauce pan over low heat. Stir frequently until the sugar is dissolved and give it a whisk to make sure the matcha doesn’t clump. Bottle and refrigerate.

To make the mocktail: combine the syrup, coconut milk, mint tea, and juices in a cocktail shaker filled two-thirds with ice and shake well. Strain into a coupe glass and sprinkle powdered turmeric on top.

Matcha Coconut Mocktail Recipe

This drink is richly creamy and sweet-tart, with a vaguely tropical feel. The matcha – made from a finely ground green tea leaves – lends some verdant, astringent notes and a beautiful green color.

Matcha Coconut Mocktail Recipe

Without the turmeric garnish, this is a tasty drink, something like a funky smoothy. But the turmeric (which looks, appropriately, like pollen) adds just enough exotic spiciness, just a hint of bitterness, that the drink comes together as something complex enough to stand toe-to-toe with a cocktail.

Making good mocktails can actually be harder than making good cocktails. Liquor brings all sorts of complex flavors – sharp, astringent, bitter, bold – that are tricky to recreate without the real deal. But mocktails don’t have to be limp glasses of sweetened juice with a bit of soda. They can be complex and rich and layered too – they just require a little bit of extra work to find those magic ingredients that turn a drink into a real mocktail. And so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time, hold on to those ingredients – sharp spices like turmeric or bitter, astringent coffee are two good ones to remember!

Matcha Coconut Mocktail Recipe

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Glassware by Liquorary

Photo Credits: Nole Garey for Oh So Beautiful Paper

Scotch Whisky Coffee

We’re still in the mood for keeping warm and cozy, as we’re in the midst of a cold snap here in DC. So we decided to take an already-warm drink, the Irish Coffee, and bump up the warmth a bit with some smokey Scotch whisky. –Andrew

Scotch Coffee Cocktail Recipe

Scotch Coffee Cocktail Recipe

2 oz Blended Scotch Whisky
1 oz Vanilla Bean Syrup
6 oz Hot Black Coffee

To make the vanilla bean syrup: combine a cup of sugar, a cup of water, and one whole vanilla bean, split down the middle, in a sauce pan over low heat. Stir frequently until all the sugar is melted into the water. Remove the pan from the heat and cover to allow the vanilla to infuse – at least 20 minutes, but the longer the better. Then strain the syrup through cheesecloth or a fine-meshed sieve to remove the vanilla bean solids (don’t worry about catching all the black flecks of vanilla bean). Bottle and refrigerate.

To make the Scotch Coffee: combine the Scotch, vanilla syrup, and fresh hot coffee in a mug. Top with whipped cream and, optionally, garnish with freshly grated nutmeg. Enjoy!

Scotch Coffee Cocktail Recipe

I wasn’t sure how this one would turn out when I first made it. Irish Coffee is such a classic drink, with a smooth, rich flavor profile, that I was worried the smokiness of the Scotch would overpower the other flavors in my mug. But it turned out much, much better than I had even expected. This drink is warm and rich, with lots of notes of earthy peat from the Scotch – and none of the smokey sharpness I was worried about. Vanilla is a perfect match for Scotch, rounding out any rough edges and helping the whisky’s warmer notes pop. Together with the coffee, they’re pretty magic.

Scotch Coffee Cocktail Recipe

As with any Scotch cocktail, your final drink’s flavors will depend on the Scotch you use. A single malt brimming with peat or brine can dominate your drink, but a milder blended Scotch – we used Monkey Shoulder – will blend and merge more easily with the other flavors in your mug.

Scotch Coffee Cocktail Recipe

Oh, and that vanilla bean syrup – it’s super easy to make at home and is worth keeping around for more than just this one cocktail. It’s amazing in regular coffee and is perfect for a wide array of cocktails, including Tiki drinks that play up vanilla’s origins as a tropical orchid.

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Glassware by Liquorary

Photo Credits: Nole Garey for Oh So Beautiful Paper

Glogg: Traditional Swedish Mulled Wine Recipe

We’re back with a new recipe, this one in the spirit of hygge – the Danish concept of comfort and coziness that is perfect for making it through gloomy Scandinavian winters and our dreary, drizzly January here in DC. This time, we’re making Glogg (which you might also see as Glögg or Gløgg), a traditional Swedish mulled wine. It’s hot and it’s sweet and and it’s rich and it will warm up your cold bones. –Andrew

Glošgg Recipe / Hygge Cocktail Ideas

Glogg

1 750 ml bottle Bordeaux
1 cup Brandy
1 cup White Port
1 cup Sugar
1 cup Raisins
1 cup Blanched Almonds, Slivered
1 Orange Peel
6 Cardamom Pods, Cracked Open
4 Cloves
2 Cinnamon Sticks, Broken Up
1 Star Anise Pod

Combine everything in a big sauce pan and simmer together until the sugar is melted. Remove from the heat, cover, and let infuse for at least an hour and overnight if possible. Strain through cheesecloth, squeezing the cheesecloth to extract as much liquid as possible from the raisins. To serve, reheat and ladle into cups or mugs. Enjoy!

Glošgg Recipe / Hygge Cocktail Ideas

This is a perfect comfort drink: mild, warm, with lots of baking spice and sweet almond and mellow citrus flavors.

Glošgg Recipe / Hygge Cocktail Ideas

When Nole suggested that we make a Glogg, I went digging through recipes. And I discovered that no two were alike. Some called for brandy, others for rum, and still others for bourbon to fortify them. Some used raisins and almonds and others didn’t. Some even called for setting the mix on fire (I was really tempted to try one of those…) to extract flavors from the spices and orange peel. They were all over the place!

Glošgg Recipe / Hygge Cocktail Ideas

And I realized that of course there should be no single recipe. Glogg was the sort of thing that each family would have made at home, probably from memory and probably without trivial details like measuring. So take this recipe with a grain of salt, a starting point rather than anything definitive. Play around with the spices (maybe some allspice next time?) and the fortifying spirits (maybe some aquavit and sherry instead?) and the citrus (maybe some lemon or some exotic winter citrus?) until you come up with your own family recipe.

Glošgg Recipe / Hygge Cocktail Ideas

And then memorize that recipe, and never write it down, and pass it down to your kids for winters to come.

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Glassware by Liquorary

Photo Credits: Nole Garey for Oh So Beautiful Paper