Fort Worth beverage expert elevates no-alcohol cocktails

I remember visiting a very nice restaurant in Dallas for my wedding anniversary when I was pregnant about 8 years ago. I asked for a non-alcoholic cocktail. The staff were nervous but nice and they really took the time to bring something together for me. But it was a smoothie with lots of wonderful fruits. It was a delicious smoothie, but not exactly what I wanted it to be.

These days, soft drinks are becoming more and more sophisticated. Supported by wellness trends and lower alcohol consumption by younger generations, the beverage industry is adapting to this new demand. Now long-time alcohol brands are creating low and zero alcohol options, and new alcohol-free spirits, fizzy tonics, and other soft drinks are popping up on store shelves.

Beth Hutson, a Fort Worth beverage industry professional, launched The Elevated Elixir two years ago. Her Instagram-based blog focuses on the non-alcoholic lifestyle, creating beverages and mocktails with cultured and mature flavors. (She will be teaching a free come and go cocktail class on May 22, 1pm to 3pm at West Elm Fort Worth, 2869 W. 7th Street. No registration required.)

Hutson wants soft drinks to be accessible and “non judgmental,” she says. She doesn’t like using the word “sober” to refer to exercise because people stop drinking for many reasons, she says.

“There are so many reasons people stop drinking, like health and wellness, or they just want more authentic or meaningful connections in their social life,” she says. “I don’t want people to feel alienated. It’s for drinkers too. “

And the stigma is part of what kept people from exploring sobriety, she says. When she and her husband decided to stop drinking, they suffered a setback. “It rubbed me in the wrong direction, the stigma of how other people react,” she says. “Every time I mentioned it to my friends – ‘I think I’m going to break up alcohol’ – everyone talked me about it.”

Beth Hutson, a beverage professional and inventor of The Elevated Elixir, mixes a drink at Lowtown Studios in Fort Worth.(Lola Gomez / employee photographer)

But now, non-alcoholic options are popping up in stores, lifestyle blogs, and even more restaurants and bars. Austin has Sans Bar and North Texas will even have its first “sober bar” in a vegan cafe called Wicked Bold in Flower Mound when it opens in June.

And the possibilities for great non-alcoholic mixes are really endless. Hutson loves simple syrups, shrubs, bottled water, and kombucha to mix with non-alcoholic spirits from brands like Seedlip, Curious Elixirs, and Ritual. There are also non-alcoholic craft beers, wines, bubbles, and pre-made mocktails.

“I also had fun with other things, such as sparkling teas at Leaves [Books and Tea in Fort Worth]. I have experimented with different types of coffee like the French press and made horchatas. The possibilities are limitless, ”says Hutson. “You can also invest in nice bar carts and stemmed glasses, different types of ice cream, and nice decorations to make it feel better.”

Recipes from Zero Proof Drinks & More: 100 recipes for mocktails and low-alcohol cocktails by Maureen PetroskyFrench 86, a soft drink made by Beth HutsonFrench 86, a soft drink made by Beth Hutson(Lola Gomez / employee photographer)

Here is a breakdown of the non-alcoholic options available:

spirits

Zero-safe spirits often mimic the taste, aroma, mouthfeel, and sometimes the burning of whiskey, tequila, gin, and more. They are made by distilling botanicals like agave and oak to create the essence of traditional spirits. Brands to try are Monday and Seedlip (herbal gin alternatives), Caleño (tropical), Mockingbird Spirit (tequila alternative), Ritual (whiskey, tequila and gin) and Lyre’s (American malt, amaretti and more).

Wine and beer

Many soft drinks on the market mimic wines and beers. Athletic Brewing Company and BrewDog offer full lines of non-alcoholic beers in a can, and there are plenty of local craft options. HopTea is made from real black tea and hops, TÖST is a dry foam drink made from tea (and it comes in a wine bottle) and Grüvi makes both wine and beer (bubbly roses, IPAs and more).

Ready-made mocktails and herbal tonics

Some soft drinks come ready-made and can serve a variety of purposes, either to drink on their own or to mix with something else. For Bitter or Worse makes bottled spritzers and other ready-to-drink libations.

Brands to try are Kin Euphorics with different strains made from adaptogens like mushrooms and relaxing nootropics like melatonin and L-theanine. Curious elixirs (made from herbs, roots, bark and adaptogens); Three ghosts (infused with mushrooms and other adaptogens).

You’ll also find plenty of sparkling tonics in this category, from kombucha drinks and sparkling teas to carbonated brands like Sunwink. Or sparkling aperitifs like Bitters & Soda.

Syrups, shrubs and more

There are tons of wonderful craft syrups, shrubs (drinking vinegars) and a lot more. You can even create your own, but brands like Royal Rose, Crafted, Proof, and Element are widely used.

The Old Fauxion, a soft drink from Beth HutsonThe Old Fauxion, a soft drink from Beth Hutson(Lola Gomez / employee photographer)

The old fauxion

4 ounce ritual whiskey alternative

1 ounce Royal Rose simple syrup

2 dashes bitter (see note)

Mix the ingredients in a shaker and stir. Pour over ice in an old-fashioned glass. Garnish with orange peel and top with cherry.

Note: bitter substances contain a minimal amount of alcohol, similar to vanilla extract. For 100% alcohol-free bitters, try brands like Dram or The Bitter Note.

SOURCE: Beth Hutson, the Enhanced Elixir

French 86, a soft drink made by Beth Hutson of The Elevated ElixirFrench 86, a soft drink made by Beth Hutson of The Elevated Elixir(Lola Gomez / employee photographer)

French 86

2 ounces Bax Botanics Verbena alcohol-free spirit (notes of verbena, fresh herbs, menthol, and fennel)

4 ounces sparkling wine alternative (Gruvi dry Secco, Lyre’s Classico alcohol-free or Buonafide Hug Alternativa)

Lemon peel

Pour Bax Botanics Verbena into a champagne glass. Top with a wine alternative. Garnish with a lemon twist.

SOURCE: Beth Hutson, the Enhanced Elixir

Purple Passion, a soft drink made by Beth Hutson of The Elevated ElixirPurple Passion, a soft drink made by Beth Hutson of The Elevated Elixir(Lola Gomez / employee photographer)

Purple passion

1 ounce Origin Botanical Nectar # 4 (contains passion fruit, lychee, and butterfly pea blossom)

1 ounce of fresh lime juice

4 ounces Topo Chico

Combine nectar and lime juice in a shaker with ice. Shake. Pour over ice. Top with Topo Chico. Garnish with blueberry skewer and mint.

SOURCE: Beth Hutson, the Enhanced Elixir

Beth Hutson of The Elevated Elixir mixes a drink at Lowtown Studios in Fort Worth.Beth Hutson of The Elevated Elixir mixes a drink at Lowtown Studios in Fort Worth.(Lola Gomez / employee photographer)

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