Drink This Now—The 10 best mocktails in San Francisco

By Maryse Chevriere

The wealth of the Bay Area’s beverage culture means that temptation lurks around pretty much every corner. Epic, geeky wine programs: Check. Culty craft beers: You name it, we got ‘em. Change-your-life-good cocktails: In spades. It can make this time of the year—with the obligatory “new year, new you” temperance mindset—a little tough. Or so you’d think. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find that many of our behind-the-bar talents have kept teetotalers in mind with plenty of legit, walk-the-walk booze-free options. Here are 10 of our favorites right now.

Bitter orange old-fashioned at The Interval
Given the cerebral bent of the bar program and space at this bookish, artsy bar, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that even the mocktail list took some deep thinking. Award-winning bartender Jennifer Colliau has come up with several tempting zero-proof options that even earned their own, equally prominent section of the menu. Favorites include a tiki-reminiscent orgeat lemonade, though the most genuinely satisfying cocktail replacement has to be the bitter orange old-fashioned ($6), which combines bitters and chinotto—a dark, bittersweet orangey soda—served over ice and garnished simply with a lemon peel (pictured above).
Neighborhood: Fort Mason MAP

Tarragon lemonade at ABV
It’s hard not to have booze on the brain from the word go at this popular Mission cocktail joint, what with a name like ABV (aka Alcohol By Volume—just in case). Nevertheless, if you’re looking to steer clear of the hard stuff, their “0 %” section has you covered with a lineup that includes four tasty lemonade riffs. A particular favorite, the tarragon lemonade is a faithful rendition of their beloved tarragon Collins, minus the gin, and just as expertly executed.
Neighborhood: Mission MAP


Mourad

Dandelion + Apple refresher at Mourad
The cocktails at this swanky modern Moroccan outfit are known for their unique ingredients and bold combinations—nori sake, pineapple IPA, bell pepper honey with Madras curry bitters. Not surprisingly, their so-called “0 %” refreshers follow suit. The Dandelion + Apple ($7) blends tart, tangy apple shrub, spring water, sea salt, and a lightly floral-herbal dandelion tonic water to create a beverage that is as interesting as it is, well, refreshing.
Neighborhood: Downtown MAP

Ginger lemon apple cider at Outerlands
A staple on the beverage list at this cool, casually trendy Outer Sunset spot since the get-go, the ginger lemon apple cider ($4) is not to be missed. Tart and bright, with just a kick of spice, it’s lovely in either the iced or hot incarnation. With the cool “winter” we’ve had, smart money is on the latter variation, at least for the next month or so.
Neighborhood: Outer Sunset MAP

Cardamom grapefruit at Nopa
If you maybe went a little hard Saturday night and aren’t tempted to double down on Bloodys at brunch, Nopa is here for you with their restorative, hit-the-spot refresher of tart grapefruit juice, bitter tonic, and aromatic cardamom bitters ($5).
Neighborhood: Divisadero/Alamo Square MAP


Beretta

Rattlesnake (hold the rye) at Beretta
Here’s a top tip for teetotalers in the Mission: Apparently, nearly all of the exceptional cocktails on Beretta’s menu can be made mostly booze-free upon request. The rye-less rendition of the Rattlesnake ($5), a shaken concoction featuring lemon, maple, bitters, and egg white, has earned fans for its rich texture and bright flavors. It hits the spot even without its usual spot of brown.
Neighborhood: Mission MAP

Blood Orange Creamsicle at State Bird Provisions
The dining experience at this widely acclaimed, modern Californian dim sum–style powerhouse is all about a parade of delicious, tempting options. It makes sense then that the beverage menu also does a great job of covering all the bases without taking any shortcuts. If you’re there on a “keeping your resolutions” night, zero in on their zero-proof soda section ($5), which currently features the Blood Orange Creamsicle—an improved variation on a classic childhood throwback.
Neighborhood: Western Addition MAP

Douglas fir lemon-lime soda at Rich Table
Next to their selection of market-driven cocktails, this charming Hayes Valley spot offers a well-curated beverage menu featuring a handful of seasonally inspired house-made soft drinks. Particularly unique is the Douglas fir–spiked lemon-lime soda ($6)—it’s like Sprite and your Christmas tree had a baby (in the best possible way).
Neighborhood: Hayes Valley MAP


El Techo Lolinda

Virgin piña colada at El Techo Lolinda
Let’s be honest, the best thing about a good, classic piña colada is that it literally just tastes like tropical dessert in a glass. So really, asking to hold the rum in this rooftop taqueria’s excellent interpretation is only going to spare you a potential hangover the next day, while sacrificing none of the flavor.
Neighborhood: Mission MAP

The Freelancer at Gather
The creative minds behind the bar at this seasonal California-inspired Berkley favorite are clearly not going to let the non-drinkers in your party feel left out. What you’ll find on the list here are mocktails with cocktail cred. Take the Freelancer ($6) for example, a whimsical, balanced, flavor-packed combination of chamomile tea, pineapple cordial, Shrub & Co grapefruit, salt, and pepper.
Neighborhood: Berkeley MAP

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