Three years ago at B&O American Brasserie restaurant in the Hotel Monaco Baltimore, award-winning Head Bartender Brendan Dorr added a variety of mocktails to the bar menu.
“We had people come in from time to time asking for non-alcoholic beverages that were more fun and festive than just cola or ginger ale,” explains Dorr. “We would try to be prepared with a couple offerings off the tops of our heads, but I finally decided it would be easier and more consistent if we added this category to our menu. Plus, it shows our guests that we’re willing to go the extra mile to enhance their options and experience.”
The already extensive bar menu has categories such as the Spice Box (spiced cocktails), Bowls and Barrels (large-format and barrel-aged cocktails), B&O Standards (favorite or popular concoctions), Vintage Adaptations (new spins on classic cocktails), Caboose Cocktails (after-dinner drinks), as well as 10 to 20 varieties each of bourbon, rye whiskey, Irish whiskey, blended Scotch, and single-malt Scotch.
“For the mocktails, I added a category to the menu called ‘Pantywaist Libations,’” chuckles Dorr. “My mother-in-law is originally from Scotland, and she uses the term ‘pantywaist’ to refer to drinks such as decaffeinated tea or coffee. I thought it would convey a lighthearted poke at a cocktail with no alcohol.”
The mocktails menu changes seasonally, with offerings including the Hibiscus Tea and Lemonade, “a unique take on the classic Arnold Palmer;” the Jasmine Tonic, made by steeping jasmine tea pearls in simple syrup and mixing them with tonic; and the Mother’s Mule, a combination of yuzu, ginger syrup, and ginger beer. In the fall, Dorr makes sure to add the often-requested Orchard Cup mocktail, which is made with honey, lemon, grated cinnamon and nutmeg, and apple cider.
“Another popular mocktail we’ve done is the Garden Cup. We juiced cucumber and added ginger beer with fresh lemon juice and ginger syrup, then garnished it with mint. It was like something you’d get in a spa—soothing and refreshing,” adds Dorr.
A summertime hit is the My Thai Tea, which is made with Ceylon tea (the kind of tea that Thai tea is made from), but instead of sweetened condensed milk, Dorr uses coconut milk, sweetening it up with lemongrass syrup.
“It was delicious, and it actually looked like a Thai tea with a creamy orange color. Whenever I made it, I’d have several other people ask me what it was. Sometimes they’d order it and ask me to put liquor in it.”
Ashley Allen is an author and writer based in Leesburg, Virginia, whose work also appears in The Huffington Post.
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