Slowly Shirley

The 10 best mocktails in NYC

By Kat Odell

In the last few years, as craft cocktails have become requisite restaurant regalia, many enterprising bartenders are taking their menus a step further by also offering luminous libations lacking liquor in effort to appeal to diners looking for a more low-key eve. Now, at many restaurants in New York City, it’s often easier to find a sophisticated booze-free beverage than a Coke. Here are 10 of the city’s best options for imbibing at zero proof.

Casablanca at Slowly Shirley ($8)
Subterranean drinks den Slowly Shirley, situated above the West Village’s more casual Happiest Hour, may be dedicated to classic and exotic neo-tiki tipples, but there’s still room to play for those avoiding the booze. Barman Ray Sakover takes credit for the restorative Casablanca ($8), pictured above right, an inflammatory-fighting turmeric tonic made with lemon, honey, and a date-Demerara syrup.
Neighborhood: West Village MAP

The Cardinal at Ladybird
Ladybird—cocktail king Ravi DeRossi’s cozy vegan tapas joint—offers a medley of low-ABV libations that pair with the likes of butternut squash fondue and quinoa croquetas. But taking it a step further, beverage director Ariel Arce also offers a bevy of hot and cold mocktails with flavors to fit the season. For spring, try the crisp and refreshing Cardinal ($10), a mix of cherry, mint, and lime hit with soda and served straight up.
Neighborhood: West Village MAP


Salted rosemary paloma at Dante
As befits one of the “World’s Best Bars” (number 34 on the Drinks International list!), Naren Young’s beverage program at Dante—known for compelling creations which straddle the line between classic and new—of course includes mocktails. In addition to an entire menu devoted to over 10 negroni variations, this cozy West Village café beautifully balances thoughtfully sourced produce with small-production liquors. But for those looking to avoid the booze, Young offers several virgin options, including a tequila-free take on the paloma. Naren’s salted rosemary paloma ($8) makes good on his propensity for adding salt, while also calling on his famous “fluffy” pink grapefruit juice, which is then mixed with a bit of salted rosemary syrup and topped with Perrier.
Neighborhood: West Village MAP

Brain at abcV
The newest location of chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s ABC family is the hotly anticipated vegetarian number, abcV. Connected to posh homeware shop ABC in Flatiron, this whitewashed stunner plates vibrant, animal-free fare that often leans toward Ayurveda—the Indian philosophy in which food is viewed as medicine. Following this path, not only does abcV’s cocktail program involve wellness-boosting ingredients, but barman Jeremy Mustakas has designed an entire list of booze-free restorative tonics that embrace ingredients like rhodiola (an herb that provides caffeine-free energy) and catuaba (tree bark believed to have aphrodisiac properties). To think a little more clearly, try the Brain ($9), which blends kale, spinach, ginger, lime, with two herbs used to improve mental clarity: brahmi and gotu kola.
Neighborhood: Flatiron MAP

Virgin mai tai at The Bar Room at Fowler & Wells
Few hotel atriums capture the grandeur and historical sense of place that one encounters at Thompson’s new Beekman hotel in the Financial District. The refurbished property, which dates to the 19th century, is clad with a comfortably luxe living room space within the nine story atrium that is home to The Bar Room at Fowler & Wells—the drinking nook connected to chef Tom Colicchio’s New American surf and turn spot. For a pro-prohibition drink, try the bar’s take on a mai tai ($9), combining orgeat, orange, and lime.
Neighborhood: FIDI MAP

Take Me Back to Georgia at Loring Place
Dan Kluger’s newly minted Loring Place—a clean, vegetable-forward outfit in the Village—is appropriately equipped with a bar proffering seasonally slanted libations along with a few “soft cocktails.” Inspired by the lavender stand at the nearby Union Square Green Market, Kluger and beverage director Ann Marie Del Bello came up with Take Me Back to Georgia ($7), a lavender lemonade enhanced with elderflower and sparkling water.
Neighborhood: Greenwich Village MAP


Pear and cardamom spritzer at Nix
Chef John Fraser is responsible for Greenwich Village’s hottest vegetarian restaurant, Nix, a place that effortlessly spins dish after veg dishes into a menu that carnivores can’t help but love. Nix’s drink program follows the kitchen’s philosophy of embracing fresh produce, with exotic fruity libations plus an assortment of mocktail sodas. Reach for the pear and cardamom spritzer ($8), a drink equal parts warm and refreshing.
Neighborhood: Greenwich Village MAP

Cucumber, jasmine, lime at De Maria
Nolita’s pretty new player De Maria—a hip, globally inspired all day eatery with an eye for design—mixes a medley of drinks from fresh juice to cocktails to “soft drinks.” Composed of fruit, veg, and herbs, the cucumber, jasmine, and lime ($7) is a reworked spa favorite.
Neighborhood: Nolita MAP

Mock Ladyboy at Oiji ($11)
Ryan Te, who heads up modern Korean restaurant Oiji’s curiously inspired roster of drinks, put together a play on his Ladyboy cocktail for customers avoiding the hooch. While the hard version calls for kaffir lime–infused soju, along with gin, ginger, tamarind, and coconut cream, the mocktail plays with the same flavors but subs lime in place of the kaffir lime-infused soju.
Neighborhood: East Village MAP

The Panda at Cienfuegos
Ravi DeRossi (of Ladybird mentioned herein) is in the process of flipping many of the bars in his group to a vegan menu, and Cienfuegos is the latest. In the process of revising the cozy and kitschy rum-focused bar’s Latin bill of fare, Mother of Pearl (located just downstairs) barkeep Jane Danger has added a slew of exotic virgin libations (to which one can always add booze), like The Panda ($12), pictured above left, built of vanilla, coconut and… Oreo!
Neighborhood: East Village MAP

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