Let’s drink to that in NYC
We sample imaginative offerings from four of the Big Apple’s trendiest bars where “alcohol-free” is the new cool.
Wellness is fashionable, and mixologists from London to New York are paying attention. In New York, creative drinks without the booze buzz are all the rage. From non-alcoholic distilled spirits and cocktails to wholesome juices, there are plenty of options for the rising sober crowd.
The red tomato
Rouge Tomate Chelsea is located in a beautifully restored 19th-century magenta-coloured horse stable in the heart of midtown.
Owner Emmanuel Verstraeten moved from Brussels to New York over ten years ago and founded the SPE food certification programme. Born from the Latin phrase Sanitas Per Escam, SPE translates as “Health Through Food.” Following the same philosophy, Rouge Tomate combines culinary art with nutrition and sustainability.
The seasonal, non-alcoholic cocktail list is carefully crafted by head bartender Cristian Molino, who proudly points out that they grow their own herbs, make their own natural syrups, and harvest honey on the rooftop.
Flavour does not take a backseat to health in the drinks, however. The bartender’s favourite is Hemingway’s Garden, an edgy, thirst-quenching mix of kale, pineapple, cucumber, lemon, and agave. The name takes a fun poke at the writer whose love affair with booze is legendary.
V for vitamin fix
If you have never been to ABC Carpet and Home, prepare to swoon. The iconic landmark in the Flatiron district is a sensory overload of beautiful interior design artfully displayed in a light-filled and spacious multi-storey building.
Esteemed chef and restauranteur Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s plant-based restaurant abcV is the latest addition to ABC’s culinary arm.
V’s sommelier and beverage director Jeremy Mustakas takes the healthy drinks scene to a whole new level: “Our goal was to create a non-alcoholic offering that rivalled the integrity of our wines and spirits. Our restorative tonics (called Vibrations) contain extracts from adaptogenic plants and herbs from around the world.”
With names like “Mindful,” “Centre,” and “Feel,” the tonics are a bit like yoga for the taste buds. Soothing “Connect” is made with blue lotus, skullcap, kava, lime, agave, and sea buckthorn – the new miracle berry packed with vitamin C – whereas “Elevate” is a delicious and refreshing deep burgundy-coloured elixir made with rhodiola, St John’s wort, albizia, rose, black current, and tangerine.
Mother of Pearl describes itself as a postmodern Polynesian restaurant and cocktail bar. Situated in New York’s bohemian Lower East Side, the pretty, tiki-themed vegan establishment draws a hip and health-conscious young crowd.
Ravi Derossi is an artist who travelled the world before opening a series of culinary hotspots and bars in New York, including Mother of Pearl in 2015.
The Virgin Isles-inspired list of non-alcoholic drinks is top notch thanks to mixologist Jane Danger, who began her bartending career at CBGB’s, a punk rock music club on the Bowery, and honed her skills at Nomad Hotel Bar.
“Our juice-based cocktails have a nice range of something for everyone, from the classic piña colada style drink to a guava and pink peppercorn Swizzle. It’s all about elevating the juice and adding some more interesting notes,” says Danger.
Her signature cocktail on the list is Pepper Keenan, named after the bassist in a southern U.S. heavy metal band. Made with pineapple, pomegranate, molasses, lime, bell pepper, jalapeno, and agave, it is intensely flavourful and definitely the rock star of the bunch.
Best Brooklyn egg cream
When Gia Giasullo and Peter Freeman opened the Brooklyn Farmacy and Soda Fountain in a vintage apothecary in 2010, the queues were out the door.
With the beloved century-old tradition of the soda bar all but extinct in the cityscape, they were at the forefront of a revival trend.
The heart of the shop is the six-foot-long Bastian-Blessing soda fountain. And there is a whole lot of love served up in their classic non-alcoholic drinks like the CherryLime Rickey, made with lime and cherry syrups and seltzer, and Farmacy originals such as The Pink Poodle, made with hibiscus syrup, cold seltzer, and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
But the best seller of Brooklyn Farmacy is the Chocolate Egg Cream. Containing neither eggs nor cream, it is the quintessential Brooklyn retro beverage, featuring an unlikely combination of seltzer, milk, and chocolate syrup best consumed immediately before it loses its fizz.
Text Karen Mackenna
Photos Lina Tegman