Call It What You Want; Just Don't Call it a Mocktail
Let’s get right to it. Mocktail has no place in an adult human’s vocabulary. Cocktail moments aren’t about intoxication; they are rituals about connection, celebration, and the opportunity to sip something special. A “mocktail” hints at a deficit; to ‘mock’ isn’t very inclusive. It welcomes judgment and assumptions. It’s trying to be something it isn’t; it’s a fake, a fraud, a giggle attached to a sparkly straw from a drink topped with whipped cream beside chicken fingers on the menu. So, let’s not call them mocktails — they’re not mocking anything. They stand on their own flavorful merits.
Think of your favorite cocktail moments. They don’t revolve around the alcoholic payload in your drink but rather the connection, celebration, and the opportunity to sip something special that these moments invite. Victoria Watters dug into how anthropologists and sociologists have long studied commensality, the act of sharing a meal with others, about the advancement of ancient civilizations. “Across cultures and throughout history, communal eating and drinking have played an important role in building relationships and creating community. None of which is surprising since we’re still social animals today. Nonalcoholic spirits can play a role in keeping the magic of all these experiences intact—without the downsides of alcohol.”
Nonalcoholic spirits aren’t just about enabling these rituals and savoring complex flavors for their own sake. According to VinePair, well-balanced, rewarding nonalcoholic drinks are experiencing a boom: 52 percent of drinkers say they are replacing alcohol with nonalcoholic beverages, a recent consumer survey found, while some 49 percent of bartenders are curious about nonalcoholic cocktails, according to the Bacardi 2023 Cocktail Trends Report.
Bottom line… Nonalcoholic drink options should not be a compromise. They should be as complex as they are interesting and exciting. There is a place at the table for everyone as the nonalcoholic space continues to shift and expand, making room for new ways to participate in the ritual of a drink. Spiritless, zero-proof, unleaded, temperance... Call it whatever you want; don’t call it a mocktail.