Non-alcoholic doesn't have to mean being stuck with a soda. 

By Stacey Ballis
December 16, 2019
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Hector Manuel Sanchez

The holidays are a time of indulgence, particularly when it comes to alcohol. But there are plenty of people who want to avoid it altogether, or, even if you do want to drink, want to make sure to be able to go to the office the day after the office party. If for whatever reason you're not interested in alcohol, you're in luck. This year has been a banner one for the development of non-alcoholic drink options that aren't just a Shirley Temple. 

Soda and bitters with a lime is my go-to at bars when I am abstaining, or tonic with a splash of cranberry and a lemon twist, or ginger ale with Roses lime. If you are going to a party at someone’s home, offer to bring non-alcoholic beverages, like festive flavored soda waters, non-alcoholic beer, or sparkling cider.

As a host, many of us think that as long as there is water or mixers available, our guests who are choosing not to drink are covered. But if you want to go the extra mile, there are punch bases that can be kept booze-free, and people can then add the liquor of their choice or skip it. Fun flavors of sparkling water or imported sodas can be nice additions, as are syrups that can be added to sparkling water for custom drinks.

For me, one of the most interesting ways to celebrate the season with a booze-free drink is with fruit shrubs. Essentially a combination of sugar, fruit and vinegar, you can create a syrup to mix with still or sparkling water, or with sparkling cider, for a drink that is as far from a Shirley Temple as you can get. Drinking vinegars are now available commercially, but if you want to make your own, it is really easy. Just use essentially a one to one ratio of chopped fruit to sugar and then vinegar to taste. Any vinegar will work, so feel free to experiment.

Watch: How to Make Sparkling Punch

Citrus is really good with white balsamic, apples and pears are great with cider vinegar, stone fruits pair well with sherry vinegar, and berries with champagne vinegar. Mix your fruit and sugar in a bowl and let sit covered with a clean lint-free tea towel in a cool dark place for one to two days, stirring once or twice a day. Strain the fruit out and measure the liquid. You can add up to a one to oneratio of vinegar to fruit syrup but depending on the intensity of your vinegar, you might want less. I usually start with half the volume of syrup in vinegar and then taste and add more until I get the tartness that I prefer. Store the shrub in your fridge for up to a month but be sure to discard if it starts to fizz, foam, mold, or gets slimy.

Shrubs are a great option for parties because they are sophisticated and special as booze-free drinks, but also are a great addition to cocktails, so no one has to feel left out, whichever choices they are making at your party!