8 Nonalcoholic Drinks That'll Satisfy When You're Craving a Cocktail

Maggie Hoffman

When I first got pregnant, everyone I told reacted with the same two questions. First: "How are you feeling?" And second: "Wait...don't you drink for a living?

For my first few years working for Serious Eats, I kinda did. I wrote about wine and beer and edited everything drinkable: posts about cocktails, about cider, about spirits, and more. But last June I became the site's Managing Editor—so while I'm still editing those stories, most of my own sipping since last summer has been extra-curricular. Quitting drinking didn't require quitting my job.

Still, not having to drink doesn't mean not wanting to drink, and once I emerged triumphant from the first trimester roller-coaster, a refreshing glass of wine or a cocktail started to sound pretty nice. And plain old juice or soda just wasn't cutting it. So I began to dig for nonalcoholic drink recipes that do more than just quench the thirst. Luckily we've got an archive full of really good options. These eight drinks are remarkably complex, thanks to the thoughtful use of spices, tart vinegar, fruit, and nuts.

Tangy Kumquat-Pear Juice

Maggie Hoffman

In the non-boozy world it can be tricky to find drinks with that cocktail-like edge of bitterness and hint of heat. This recipe offers both, thanks to the crisp astringency of kumquats and the warm tingle of fresh ginger. Pears fill out the bulk of the drink with a gentle, earthy sweetness.

Get the recipe for Tangy Kumquat-Pear Juice »

Black Peppercorn Limeade

Autumn Giles

I'm on board for any drink that's tart, but this limeade is more interesting than the average recipe, thanks to coarsely ground black peppercorns that flavor the simple syrup used to sweeten the drink. This is a great one to make by the pitcher for parties.

Get the recipe for Black Peppercorn Limeade »

Coquito Smoothie

Autumn Giles

Hello, lover. This smoothie, inspired by the eggnog-like Puerto Rican drink, needs no rum to be delicious. It's made with a carton of coconut milk (which, unlike the canned stuff, doesn't separate), blended up with frozen banana till creamy and smooth. A little nutmeg and maple syrup add a hint of barrel-aged flavor.

Get the recipe for the Coquito Smoothie »

Rosemary-Tangelo Shrub

Elana Lepkowski

Drink enough mocktails at local bars and eventually everything seems to be a spin on lemonade. But there are other options for brightening up your drinks, namely vinegar. This woodsy concoction (some might even find it reminiscent of gin) is flavored with rosemary and tangy cider vinegar, then sweetened with a little tangelo juice. Pour some seltzer on top and you're good to go.

Pistachio Milk

Lauren Rothman

Almond milk is a dime a dozen these days, but my favorite dairy-free creamy drink is this pistachio version, flavored with cardamom and vanilla for good measure. It's a little reminiscent of pistachio gelato in the very best way.

Get the recipe for Pistachio Milk »

Orgeat Lemonade

Kevin Liu

Make fresh lemonade a little more interesting by sweetening it with orgeat, a cocktail ingredient that's made with almonds and orange flower water. You can make your own orgeat or buy a reputable brand like Small Hand Foods.*

Note: The Small Hand Foods version is flavored with a small amount of biodynamic California brandy (the orgeat winds up around 0.5% ABV.)

Get the recipe for Orgeat Lemonade »

Thai Mango-Pineapple-Coconut Juice

Lauren Rothman

This drink offers a little escape to Thailand, thanks to fresh mango and pineapple plus a punch of ginger and savory galangal. Coconut makes it luscious and lime emphasizes the drink's tangy side.

Rhubarb-Ginger Cooler

Lauren Rothman

Rosy rhubarb makes an excellent alcohol-free pitcher drink for a brunch or picnic; it's even better flavored with ginger, orange zest, and allspice and fizzed up with spicy ginger beer.

Get the recipe for the Rhubarb-Ginger Cooler »