Yes, this is a mocktail! And I think it may be prettier than any cocktail I've ever made.
"But wait!" you cry, concerned. "I see the layer of foam on that sour. You're pregnant! You can't be drinking raw eggwhites."
You're so sweet to worry. But this sour is totally vegan and pregnancy-friendly. Let me introduce you, friends, to the wonder that is aquafaba.
Aquafaba is chickpea water. As in, the cloudy liquid from the can of chickpeas. In 2014, a French chef named Joel Roessel discovered that aquafaba had many of the same properties as eggwhites. Added to a cocktail and shaken well, it yields almost the same texture and foam, with none of the concerns that surround consuming raw egg. Since then, it's started popping up in tons of cocktails and has provided vegans a great alternative for their drinks.
I was a little skeptical about aquafaba at first. I couldn't imagine that it wouldn't lend a chickpea flavor to a cocktail, and indeed, some people complain that it does. But I had to try it and find out.
I got my aquafaba from canned chickpeas, but another option is to make your own by boiling dried chickpeas and saving the liquid left behind. For a mocktail to test it in, a created a Chamomile Pear Sour with chamomile tea, pear juice, lemon juice, and vanilla demerara syrup. Roughly basing my proportions on this whiskey sour recipe, I added 1 ounce of aquafaba to my 4.5 ounce mocktail.
Like eggwhites, aquafaba has to be really well shaken to give you that perfect foam. I've practiced a bit with eggwhites in the past, and while I haven't posted the results of my attempts, I've learned a couple of tricks that help in this regard. One is to put a spring or a shaker ball into your shaker, which really helps build up foam. I feel like this was the magic ingredient for a proper eggwhite consistency, so I did the same thing for my aquafaba. I also did a dry shake with no ice before adding ice and shaking again. (Be careful to seal your shaker well for the dry shake - without the ice to create a tight seal, it can leak.)
At first, as I strained the liquid into my coupe, I was disappointed - no foam. But then, at the end, it all came pouring out and formed a perfect foamy layer over the drink. It's maybe not quite as thick as it ought to be, but this could be remedied with a longer shake or maybe more aquafaba. As far as I was concerned, the texture turned out perfect.
So what about the taste? I was pretty convinced that the aquafaba was going to affect the flavor and I was going to have to try another recipe with less. But I was shocked to notice absolutely no chickpea flavor whatsoever in the drink. All I tasted was chamomile and pear and vanilla, and it was lovely. It did have a bit of an odd odor, but no more so than eggwhite cocktails often do. And it was well worth it for the final effect. As far as mocktails go, this one was as close to a real cocktail as I can imagine coming! It felt like drinking something really special. At this rate, the next five months will be a breeze.
Chamomile Pear Sour2 oz. chamomile tea
1 oz. pear juice
1 oz. aquafaba
3/4 oz. lemon juice
3/4 oz. vanilla demerara syrup*
Combine all ingredients in a shaker, with a shaker ball or spring, if using. Seal the shaker well (if you're using a Boston shaker, make a straight seal to prevent leakage) and shake for 30 seconds with no ice. Then open the shaker, add ice, and shake for another 30 seconds. Strain the cocktail into a coupe glass. For me, most of the foam came out at the very end. Sprinkle with chamomile to garnish.
*For vanilla demerara syrup, combine 2 parts demerara sugar with 1 part water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and add 1 tsp. of vanilla extract per cup of syrup.