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October 11, 2007



As someone who drinks extremely infrequently, one of my chief sources of irritation with a lot of restaurant menus is the lack of alcohol-free options. Or, rather, that all the options seem to be Coke and Sprite. In addition to not being a soda fan, I think that soda tends to ruin my food experience with its sweetness and metallic taste profile.

I rather like the idea of house-mixed beverages, and I wonder if there would be a way to play around with pairing those with menu items to get people more interested? Or maybe a separate non-alcoholic beverage menu, although maybe that's a stupid idea. I'm also all for juices and drinks which are not carbonated, like some of the grape juices produced by wineries, which have a more sophisticated flavor than your average Welch's.

It's unfortunate that restaurants will invest a great deal in building up a wine list, and then slap up a few token non-alcohol options. I'm glad to read about someone making the effort.


haddock -- re: NA drinks: even though I'm not a fan of flavored teas, I tasted a lovely one at a Thai fusion place recently, a pomegranate-based mixture that was not too sweet (my usual complaint) nor too fruity to drink with a meal. I will try to find its provenance for you. I commend you for planning to add more tee-total choices to your menu.


I know what you mean...so little time in the day for invoices, labor, audits, inventory....much less cooking, and or writing. Every time I go to write, its usually just another note on my "what to blog" list. Hopefully we'll get to see a picture of your pumpkins?


NA Bev suggeestion, in case you find it appealing... we've stumbled upon a non-alcoholic drink which, in certain ways, complements food a la wine. I drink it often, particularly when abstaining from the demon rum. Which is why we started referring to it as a "Sam Malone."

Basically, we make our own jamaica, strong and dry, with no sugar added. It's just hibiscus leaves steeped in hot water. (I don't know how close your nearest Mexican market is, but they should have the leaves, inexpensive and in bulk).

Then we mix it with Perrier or Pellegrino, about 2 parts water to one part jamaica, in a large wine glass. You can fit an entire small bottle of Perrier and an appropriate amount of jamaica in a 20 oz glass.

For me, a big portion of wine is having the glass in my hand and drinking something with strong flavor that's not sweet. This drink achieves that, plus because of the bubbles it has a kind of refreshing effect on the palate which makes it good with a meal.

I can't say it's a huge seller, but at least it's a viable NA option for diners.


YES to increasing your non alcoholic offerings. It really tweaked my ass when I was pregnant, went out to the most expensive restaurant in my area (where I usually indulge in the wine pairing) and had to settle for sparkling water while my husband got the pairing. This time of year, get some great cider (non-pasteurized, if you can). Lemonade and fruit lemonade variations, tea infusions, interesting juices, etc. Cranberry and tonic with lime was a favorite when I was at a bar. I'd have paid up to $7/drink for something interesting to drink at an upscale restaurant. Bonus points if you can manage to make them complement various dishes on your menu.

Tom G

After reading about your house-made walnut soda I've been desperately searching for a way to do it. Perhaps I lack vision but could you point me in the right direction?


Tom- here's how. Make a simple syrup (basically equal parts sugar and water, brought to a boil. While hot add some walnuts to flavor the syrup. Let the syrup cool and then blend until really fine. Strain through a chinois or coffee filter, chill, and then add sparkling water to the walnut syrup.

Tom G

Thanks for the guidance, I can't wait to try it! The possibilities seem endless!

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