ELLSWORTH – You will reach an age where drinking a glass of wine with dinner will make you feel the next morning as if all the moisture has been washed out of your body.
This may lead you to explore a restaurant’s non-alcoholic offerings with more interest. Especially with the New Year upon us.
Luckily, Ellsworth Chef Daron Goldstein and his wife, bartender and nursing student Joy Kempf, still have creative, seasonal mocktails on the menu at their fine dining restaurant, the Provender Kitchen + Bar on Main Street. Daron was named Maine Chef of the Year by HospitalityMaine in November.
“Their drink menu is always fun,” said Gretchen Wilson, executive director of the Ellsworth Area Chamber of Commerce. “They have big names and an interesting use of liqueurs, bitter amaro. The menu changes seasonally and it’s always fun to try something new and different.
Daron and Joy shared tips for making mocktails at home along with some winter mocktail recipes perfect for a dry New Years evening, dry January or any winter day, special occasion or no.
“A good drink is really balanced,” said Daron.
Plan ahead if you are going to be making these drinks. Two recipes use syrups and one uses a shrub. A shrub is an old-fashioned drink made from vinegar and seasonal fruits and easy to make.
Daron explained that shrubs and syrups add depth to drinks, as do herbs and bitters.
First tip: use seasonal ingredients. Seasonal means fresher ingredients and therefore tastier drinks.
To that end, winter is the season for citrus fruits – blood oranges, Cara Cara oranges, satsuma tangerines, grapefruits, lemons – including Meyer lemons – and limes, to name a few.
In Provender’s This Twilight, a cool blend of lime juice, pink grapefruit juice, and blood orange shrub, served over ice and topped with club soda, is popular at the restaurant.
For the blood orange shrub, bring a cup of demerara sugar (raw), a cup of apple cider vinegar and the juice of three blood oranges to a boil in a saucepan. Simmer for 15 minutes until the liquid is reduced by a third, Daron said. Store the shrub in the refrigerator.
“Get creative,” Joy said. “Just throw things together that you wouldn’t think would go together. You will be surprised.
“Vegetables can also add character to a drink,” she said. Try beet juice or carrot juice.
Resist the urge to top everything with seltzer or club soda. “We always try to have a blend because not everyone likes carbonation,” Joy said.
“The things that grow together go hand in hand,” Daron added.
What do the couple name their drinks?
“The names come from a collaboration of random ideas and thoughts,” Daron said.
Searches for alcohol-free cocktails tend to increase on the Google search engine. Over the past decade, the alcohol-free movement has grown and intensified during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to industry experts.
“The zero percent drink is still very popular,” Daron said. “You see it everywhere.”
CNBC says wine, beer, and now non-alcoholic spirits can be found in bars and stores around the world. Younger consumers are more aware of choices and what they’re putting into their bodies, the news source said.
“It has become trendy and cool among the peers. The plethora of new choices in the market are fueling this further.
People still want “luxurious, complex flavors” traditionally found in mixed drinks, according to Modern Restaurant Management, in an article on the mocktail trend.
In this twilight
For 1 person
1 ounce blood orange shrub (see recipe below)
1 ounce fresh lime juice
1 ounce pink grapefruit juice
Blood Orange Shrub
1 cup of demerara sugar
1 cup of apple cider vinegar
Juice of three blood oranges
Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes until reduced by one third.
Keep refrigerated. Serve over ice topped with club soda.
Thai and the family stone
(Twist on an Arnold Palmer)
1 ounce yuzu juice (substitute for fresh juice from Meyer lemons)
½ ounce Pacific Island Syrup (recipe below)
Shake in a cocktail shaker, pour over ice and garnish with freshly brewed black tea.
Pacific Island Syrup
1 liter of water
2 cups of granulated sugar
2 cups of brown sugar
½ cup roasted cashews
1 C. coriander
2 sprigs of fresh coriander
1 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds
1 nut of fresh turmeric
1 nut of fresh ginger
1 lemongrass stalk
Mix the water with the lemongrass in a pot and simmer for 20 minutes then strain. Keep refrigerated.
Laced from the waist
For 1 person
1 ounce lemon juice
1 ounce pine cone syrup (order online or substitute for maple syrup)
Hot hot apple cider
Combine the ingredients in a shaker and serve.
Note: Joy Kempf says the name of this recipe is a nod to Endless Zoom Meetings.