Sober in the City: 20 Summer Mocktail Recipes to Try Now

I was a bit out of sorts when I first got sober: anxious, stressed, angry, depressed. Everything bothered me, and living in NYC didn’t help the situation. One of my good friends would patiently listen to me complain non-stop about any and everything. Until one day she had just had it with me. I was going on and on about how it was just so unfair that I would never be able to drink again, until she snapped at me and said, “You will be able to drink LOTS of things! Just. Not. Alcohol! Have some water. People would kill for some!” Addiction is far more complex than swapping out water for alcohol. But, for me, at least, it is helpful to have friends who won’t, as they say in AA, “co-sign my bullshit” and provide support in redirecting my obsessive thoughts.

Five years later, I see the world through a whole new set of eyes. There are so many things that are overwhelmingly incredible to experience without being numb. Even the act of slowly sipping a mocktail made from Earth’s ingredients — ingredients that I am so lucky to even have access to — is something that I do not take for granted. With summer here, I do not have to forgo the act of social drinking. But, I can forgo the hangover, the shame, the guilt, and the regret. Here are 20 summer mocktail recipes to try now, sober or not. Sit with them. Taste the combination of ingredients without the mask of alcohol, and be grateful for every berry, herb, flower, vegetable. And, if you don’t have the patience to make these recipes at home, grab your friends and go out for mocktail hour. (The New York Times and Refinery29 have great roundups of places to grab the best mocktails in New York and San Francisco, respectively. But, you can always just go to your local speakeasy or hotel bar and challenge the mixologist/bartender to make you something creative sans the alcohol.)

1. Blackberry Lavender Lemonade


2. Rosemary Citrus Spritzer


3. Meyer Lemon Soda


4. Virgin Garden Mary

via HGTV

via HGTV


5. Kiwi Lime Mojito


6. Italian Cream Soda


7. Kumquat Pink Pepper Spritzer


8. Cucumber Lemonade


9. Passion Thyme Mocktail


10. Strawberry Lychee Soda


11. Ginger Lime Mocktail


12. Frost Bite Mocktail

via babble

via babble


13. Blood Orange Spritzer


14. Saffron Orangeade


15. Cranberry Rosemary Tangerine Mocktail


16. Pomegranate Rosewater Spritzer


17. Basil-ade


18. Pink Lemonade Coco Float


19. Pricky Pear Mojito


20. Berry Super Food Mocktail

Ginger has written 13 articles for us.

24 Comments

  1. “But, you can always just go to your local speakeasy or hotel bar and challenge the mixologist/bartender to make you something creative sans the alcohol.”
    =O Will they do this? I have often bemoaned that there are many drinks that sound delicious if people would stop putting alcohol in them.

    • Most of the time I’ve been lucky. In NYC, places like Pravda, Pegu (where Maddow hangs out), Freemans, the Dove, and Public, etc. have wonderful mocktail recipes or mixologists that relish in the challenge of creating something delicious and new. (Plus, I love that “extra” of getting something off-menu!) Nobu (OH NOBU)has a great mocktail menu (I had their Pepino: Lychee Juice, Fresh Cucumber, Lemon, Lime, Soda Water – YUM), as well as Spice Market (Cherry Yuzu soda – DOUBLE YUM).

      But, recently I was at Coyote Cafe in Santa Fe with friends and when I asked the server about mocktails she froze. I’ve learned from these types of experiences that if you know what ingredients you like, you can provide direction. I asked our server if they had ginger beer (check, has no alcohol), lime juice (check), pineapple juice (check), ice (check) and a fancy glass (check) — voila … mocktail.

  2. thank you for these recipes..i’ve been on my path for a little over 3 years and it’s really nice to be represented..i know there are lots of options online but coming from another recovering lady cat it makes it more special..thank you for all of your articles!

  3. Thank goodness, just in time for my book tour! Cuz, you know, people are asking a lot of probing questions, and I wouldn’t want to say something that will become a soundbite in some political ad in Ohio! Here’s to a sober and scandal-free summer with some delish fruity drinks!

    Yours by the blood orange spritzer,

    Hillz out

  4. Oh my god. Nothing is a bigger trigger to me than craving a refreshing beverage on a hot Texas summer day. These alternatives sound awesome. I’m gonna print out my favorite recipes and put them in my wallet for the next time I’m out. Slash make some of these for the next BBQ.

  5. These sound so great!

    I don’t struggle with alcohol addiction, but I’ve sometimes found myself having a glass or two even though I didn’t particularly desire an alcoholic beverage, simply because they were the most attractive drinks on the menu. Which is a shame! I’d much prefer having these on a hot summer day.

  6. After going through a blue period filled with anxiety, the last straw was when I had a night out that I didn’t want to be at and got drunk and said some things I shouldn’t have that upset my girlfriend. After the intense period of shame afterwards, as well as being diagnosed with anxiety and depression and being put on medication, I decided not to drink anymore- because I don’t like who I am with alcohol, because my medication doesn’t allow it and because I realised you can have fun and be the life of the party without it! Without the guilt hangover the next day! So thank you for making this awesome list! I can’t wait to give them a go 🙂

  7. During the summer, there’s a monthly queer picnic in the park. If I can find some of these ingredients (where am I going to find heavy cream in Tokyo?), I want to make some of these as my contribution for the potluck! Why should the drinkers have all the fun while others just have something boring like Coke?

  8. Thank you, these look great! My partner is in recovery but they’re also a former bartender so I’ll have to practice these drinks til they’re professional quality. Yum!

  9. These look gorgeous! Writing about sobriety is also really refreshing when much LGBTQ socialising is still in the realm of substance abusing nocturnal antics. Articles like this are delicious and important 🙂 Go you.

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