5 Dry January Approved Mocktails From Chicago's Favorite Bartenders

Melanie Medrano | January 1, 2021 | Food & Drink

So long, 2020. Hello, 2021! Ring in the (much-anticipated) new year with a fresh start and zero-proof beverages from Chicago bartenders.


1. Tzuco's El Grito

Named after the cry to commemorate Mexico’s independence, Tzuco Bar Manager Andrew Bone’s zero-proof drink of choice is bright and energetic—ideal for adding a pop color to dry January. “This cheer is something that energizes a crowd, similar to how the spice of the serrano pepper brightens up this special mocktail,” he says of the El Grito. If you want to add even more panache, incorporate CBD for extra layers of depth in your drink.

1 oz. hibiscus syrup
1 oz. lemon juice
2 slices serrano pepper
1-1 ½ oz. Flora CBD

To make:
Combine all ingredients in a shaker.
Shake with ice and serve.


2. Simplicité Co.'s Llama Pallama

Putting a spin on the popular Paloma cocktail, mixologist and owner of Simplicité Co., Revae Schneider, created the Llama Pallama mocktail with her line cocktail syrups. The beverage adds a smoky factor with Simplicité Smoked Salt syrup, and paired with bitterness from the Lagunitas Hoppy Refresher, you won’t miss the zing of tequila. “You get all of the complexities of a boozy cocktail without the hangover the next day,” she says.

2 parts water
1 part fresh lime juice
1 part fresh grapefruit juice
1 part simple syrup, preferably Simplicité Smoked Salt syrup
3 basil leaves

To make:
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice.
Shake for 30 seconds and pour into glass over fresh ice
Top with Lagunitas Hoppy Refresher


3. Virtue's The Hummingbird

At Virtue, manager Jesus Garcia has created a drink menu that ties in a Southern homage to owner Erick William’s past experiences. With ingredients like basil simple syrup and lemon juice, The Hummingbird is a mocktail that’s an aromatic and sweet spruce up to the traditional lemonade. “[It’s] something that has depth yet is very approachable,” Garcia says.

1 ½ oz. basil simple syrup
½ oz. lemon juice
4 oz. soda water
1 sprig of basil for garnish

To make:
Fill a collins glass with ice, add simple syrup and lemon juice.
Top off with soda water and garnish with basil sprig.


4. Heritage Restaurant & Caviar Bar's Warm Apple Cider with Blackberry Shrub and Jalapeno Agave

Spicy, tart and comforting—three words Heritage Restaurant & Caviar Bar owner and executive chef Guy Meikle uses to describe this festive nonalcoholic drink. Since the pandemic, Meikle has taken over the bar program, experimenting with new ideas that can be translated into this rendition of warm apple cider. The blend of blackberry shrub and jalapeno flavors with the apple cider base is a great drink to help transition from holiday parties into the new year reset. “[It’s great] right now to keep people's spirits up and warm their bodies,” Meikle says of his mocktail of choice.

4 oz. apple cider
½ oz. jalapeno simple syrup
½ oz. blackberry shrub

To make:
Combine all ingredients in a glass with ice.
Garnish with a dehydrated orange wheel, sage and a smoked cherry.


5. Aba's Pineapple Serrano Soda

Highlighting sweet with spicy, this simple citrus drink will kick off your dry January with a bang. Thomas Moore, a divisional bar training manager at Aba and other restaurants, likes the mind game of thinking you’re having a cocktail, when really, you’re complying with no-cocktail rules. “The heat from the serrano peppers simulates the burn of alcohol, and I end up enjoying the drink just as much as I would a more ‘traditional’ cocktail,” he says.

1 oz. pineapple serrano cordial
¾ oz. lemon juice
Pineapple wedge and Aleppo pepper slice for garnish

To make:
Fill a Collins glass with ice; add lime juice, pineapple serrano cordial and top with soda.
Gently stir with a bar spoon to mix.
Garnish with a wedge of pineapple and Aleppo pepper.

Photography by: From top: Courtesy of Tzuco; courtesy of Simplicite Co.; by Lindsey Becker; courtesy of Heritage Restaurant & Caviar Bar; by Thomas Moore