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The Dawson

Drink This Now—The 10 best mocktails in Chicago

By Lauren Mandel

The culinary world is constantly changing and evolving, and that doesn’t mean just the food—carefully conceptualized cocktail menus are an important part of the scene, too. And with more and more people focusing on maintaining a healthy lifestyle, keeping on eye on alcohol consumption has become a bigger priority. But you can still grab drinks with friends or enjoy a flavorful beverage that complements your dinner without touching a drop of alcohol. Whether you’re resolving to drink less in the New Year or you’ve always been alcohol-free, here are 10 of our favorite mocktails to check out in Chicago.

Greyhound Soda at The Dawson
The Dawson is known for celebrating the concept of craft cocktails, so you might be surprised to learn that this River West hot spot also has a pretty impressive selection of house-made sodas. Each soda is made with house syrups, fresh juices, and in some cases, aromatic essential oils. The Greyhound Soda will do the best job at fooling you into thinking your drink is spiked, and comes complete with grapefruit, juniper, and bergamot—a citrus essential oil.
Neighborhood: River West MAP

Winter Blush at The Northman
This self-proclaimed “ciderpub” has a menu filled with, yes, a lot of ciders. But don’t think they forgot about the rest of us. The Northman boasts two beautifully conceived non-alcoholic cocktails, called Winter Blush and Queen Anne. The first starts with raw sugar, adding cherry shrub, orange bitters, and soda, while the second option combines lemon tonic with ginger syrup and soda.
Neighborhood: North Center MAP

Tuckpoint at GreenRiver
GreenRiver doesn’t just offer one or two mocktails. Their extensive drinks menu is broken down by key ingredient, from rye to barley, and each of the eight sections includes its own mocktail. The Tuckpoint falls under the juniper heading, and so includes juniper berry (obviously), along with coriander, pepper, and tonic. Since juniper is most often found in gin, expect a flavor profile to suit.
Neighborhood: Streeterville MAP


Raspberry yuzu soda at Momotaro
It’s hard to imagine sushi without a side of sake, but if you’re hoping to avoid a nasty hangover, it’s best to avoid this Japanese rice wine. Instead, get your sushi fix at Momotaro and order a refreshing soda. There are three different flavors to choose from: pineapple-togarashi, blood orange–clove, and raspberry-yuzu. The last of the three stands out for taking full advantage of the traditional yuzu flavor.
Neighborhood: Fulton Market MAP

Scarlet Wave at Frontera Grill
Tacos and margaritas go together like peanut butter and jelly, so it can be hard to sit down to a delicious Mexican meal without your trusty cocktail by your side. Thankfully, one of Chicago’s leading Mexican restaurants, Frontera Grill, has worked up an entire menu section devoted to non-alcoholic beverages. A standout is the Scarlet Wave, combining fresh limeade with a special floral tea. It has the same acidic flavors as a margarita, so you’ll barely notice the missing tequila.
Neighborhood: River North MAP

No Turkey at Nico Osteria
Most people probably wouldn’t expect a top restaurant in the city to have a mocktail on the drinks list, but that’s where they’re mistaken. Nico Osteria pays special attention to all of its clientele, including those who don’t imbibe. The No Turkey mocktail offers a cozy combination of flavors like apple cider, fresh juices, and spices like earthy sage.
Neighborhood: Gold Coast MAP

Left Coast

LC Sparkling Splash at Left Coast
You’d be remiss to spoil a perfectly healthy meal at Left Coast by pairing it with an alcoholic beverage. Instead, go with an LC Sparkling Splash for just $3.50. Flavors include blueberry-mint, strawberry-basil, cherry-lime jalapeño, and citrus-turmeric rosemary. These splashes have all the flavors of your favorite cocktails without all the extra calories and guilt.
Neighborhood: Lakeview MAP

My Little Pony at Uncommon Ground
Uncommon Ground is just a few blocks away from the always-busy Wrigley Field area, but when you walk inside, you somehow immediately feel relaxed and at home. One of the many ways they make everyone—and we mean everyone—feel welcome is with the designated mocktail section of the menu. The My Little Pony has house-made ginger ale (already making it a winner), blood orange bitters, and lime.
Neighborhood: Wrigleyville MAP

Sour blueberry soda at ZED451
If you’re out in the River North area and looking for happy hour, an obvious choice is ZED451 (especially when their rooftop is open). But what are you to do if you don’t drink? Order one of their handcrafted sodas, of course. The flavors cover familiar cocktail ground, just without the kick, and the most interesting of the bunch might be the sour blueberry cooler. If you’re not into sour or blueberry, go for the classic ginger.
Neighborhood: River North MAP

LYFE Water at LYFE Kitchen
If you’re craving something more than, well, a glass of tap water, but don’t want to splurge for a cocktail, the LYFE Waters at LYFE Kitchen are a great option. The cucumber mint is simple and refreshing, with just fresh cucumber juice, mint, lime, and agave, while the orange-ginger chia is a bit more complex, with orange juice, lime, ginger, mint, and chia seeds.
Neighborhood: Gold Coast MAP

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