Thursday, June 1, 2017

Mocktail: Old Cuban

Non-alcoholic Old Cuban

A couple of weeks ago, I was scouring the internet for good spots in Boston to grab a mocktail with a pregnant friend. Luckily, there are several articles out there discussing what bars and restaurants have good non-alcoholic options. One place that comes up repeatedly is, unsurprisingly, Eastern Standard. Their cocktails are fantastic, it made sense that they'd do an excellent job on their non-alcoholic options as well. A couple of sites listed one drink that they make in particular, a non-alcoholic version of an Old Cuban. This is one of my favorite cocktails, so I was definitely intrigued. I decided to try and make my own Old Cuban mocktail at home.

The Old Cuban is usually made with aged rum, mint, simple syrup, lime, bitters, and sparkling wine. The rum would be easy enough to omit, and the bitters could remain for my purposes. The real challenge was a substitute for the sparkling wine. There are all sorts of sparkling grape juices and ciders out there, but I find most of them too fruity and sickeningly sweet. Eastern Standard uses one I had never heard of called Fre Brut. Fre makes a variety of different non-alcoholic wines, and I had high hopes for the Brut. After all, Eastern Standard's endorsement means a lot. If it tasted anything like real champagne, I was ready to buy every varietal they sell - I'm definitely at the point in this pregnancy where I would love a glass of wine.

Non-alcoholic Old Cuban

Unfortunately, while the Fre Brut is tasty, it's still strongly reminiscent of the sparkling grape juice we used to have as kids on New Years Eve. I was hoping for something dry, but it's quite sweet. And indeed, the second and third ingredients after dealcoholized wine are grape juice and grape concentrate. I wonder what it would taste like if they left the wine as-is. If anyone knows of a drier non-alcoholic sparkling wine, let me know! I'd be all over it.

Still, I decided to proceed with my Old Cuban recipe, and I'm glad I did. I simply reduced the amount of simple syrup to make up for the sweetness of the Brut, and it turned out really, really good. It might be the closest in flavor to an actual cocktail that I've come. The fizz, the sour lime, and the familiar flavor of the Angostura work together to really mimic its alcoholic namesake. You might even be able to fool someone. I think it's the best mocktail I've made yet!

Booze it up: The alcoholic version of this drink is here.

Non-alcoholic Old Cuban

Old Cuban

9 mint leaves
3/4 oz. simple syrup
1 1/2 oz. lime juice
4 dashes Angostura bitters (omit if you are avoiding alcohol entirely)
4.5 oz. non-alcoholic sparkling wine (I used Fre Brut)

Combine mint leaves and simple syrup in the bottom of a shaker and muddle. Add the lime juice and bitters. Fill the shaker with ice and shake until chilled. Fine-strain into a coupe glass and top with the sparkling wine. Garnish with a mint leaf.

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