From the Juicer: Tangy Kumquat-Pear Juice

Tangy Kumquat-Pear Juice

This juice makes a remarkable cocktail substitute: it's based on sweet Anjou pears, with tons of bright tartness (and a little cocktail-like bitterness) from fresh juiced kumquats. Gingery heat stands in for spirits in the mix—we promise, you won't miss the booze!

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[Photo: Maggie Hoffman]

Maggie Hoffman

Editor's note: We're sharing a new juice or smoothie recipe every weekday in January. Got a favorite juice or smoothie combo? Tell us about it in the comments section! Looking for more smoothie and juice ideas? Start here...

Tangy Kumquat-Pear Juice
This juice makes a remarkable cocktail substitute: it's based on sweet Anjou pears, with tons of bright tartness (and a little cocktail-like bitterness) from fresh juiced kumquats. Gingery heat stands in for spirits in the mix—we promise, you won't miss the booze! Get the Recipe » [Photo: Maggie Hoffman]. Maggie Hoffman

How many of you are taking January off from drinking? How's that going? I'm guessing that either you: 1) feel clearheaded and energetic, happy and healthy, and even more committed to treating your body better in 2014. Or 2) you could really use a cocktail right about now... Either way, this juice is for you.

I kind of hate the word 'mocktail'—it seems girly and fake, and makes me think of overly sweet and pink virgin strawberry daiquiris used for toasting at a baby shower. Non-drinkers deserve better. And more and more cocktail bars are remembering that, providing a section on the menu that's booze free.

We've discussed some of the keys to creating delicious alcohol-free cocktail substitutes before: it can help to include a touch of spice to echo alcohol's heat. Here, that's done with a little fresh ginger. It's not enough to give a big gingery flavor, just a flare on the tongue that could just as well be booze.

Of course, any drink, alcoholic or not, should balance sweet and sour: in this combination, the sweetness (and the drink's rich base) comes from ripe Anjou pears. You don't need to peel them before juicing, though I do recommend removing the stem and seeds.

The most important part of this drink, though, is a handful of kumquats. If you have a juicer and you haven't put kumquats in it yet, you're doing it wrong. These little buggers add tangy, piercingly tart acidity and just a hint of bitterness. They take the mellow pear juice and amp it up into cocktail land, as if you'd poured in a dose of, say Aperol, or even Campari and lime. The three parts together—ginger's heat, pear's sweet, and the tartness and bitterness of the kumquats—work wonderfully. You won't miss the booze, I promise.