by Christine Liu - 156 Reviews - 111 List
For whatever reason you choose not to drink--health-related, religious, just not feeling the sauce--it's absolutely inexcusable to relegate your acute sense of taste to the wearily routine club soda and lime. These Boston bars illustrate the possibilities for alcohol-free drinks when they retain the precision and quality of ingredients that go into any first-rate cocktail. Faced with the caliber of these excellent beverages, you'll soon be belting "Like a Virgin" with renewed vigor.
(Photo: L'Espalier by Christine Liu)
Updated: June 24, 2010
Though it's know for dishing up quality Sazeracs and intense microbrews, the bar also excels at non-alcoholic refreshers. The resident mixologists won't blink an eye at your "virgin" request and will--if lemon is your friend--conjure a near magical quaff of what can only be described as a garden in a glass. In the breezy mix, lemonade infused with rose is muddled with cucumber, shaken with lime and dashed with the ripe depth of celery bitters. The taste is bright, organic and oh-so-bounteous.
This luxe, no-holds-barred bastion of haute gastronomy produces alcohol-free beverages of precision. Sidle into the salon (the loungey anteroom) for an ethereal elixir of watermelon granita muddled with lemon verbena "plucked this morning from [L'Espalier chef/owner] Frank's own farm." (Seriously? Seriously.) Another shining option spotlights passion fruit juice steeped with a cinnamon stick, shaken with honey syrup, taken over ice and sipped daintily from a straw.
This quietly upscale bar, complete with Brahmins and banter, can whip up mocktails with no less aplomb than its more famous liquid nitrogen libations (smoke rising!). You might receive a frothy concoction with raw egg white, lime juice, lemon juice, dash of grenadine and ginger ale, shaken like crazy and served sans ice in a Collins glass. The foam floats about the middle of the glass, and a sip reveals the drink's bearings as super-fancy version of middle-school prom punch--kinda fun, kinda sweet and altogether dynamic.
True testament that this exacting bar puts its weight behind all of its drinks, boozy or otherwise: Its Lemmy Tum Tum made rank on GQ's "The 20 Best Cocktails in America" list--despite its brazenly alcohol-free composition. The house-made lemonade and bitters therapy-in-a-glass keeps cozy company with others on Eastern Standard's mocktail list, including Alexander's Delight with "textured cayenne and mocha" and a rum-free but no less yo-ho-ho-able Stormy Monday.
Forget the cheeky-comprehensive wine list and cadre of cocktails, skip right to the barkeep to finagle a booze-less treat. One night's encounter produced a mocktail that featured mint muddled with lime, shaken with house-made ginger beer, dashed up with Peychaud's and Fee Bros. whiskey-aged bitters and fizzled with a bit of soda water. The drink imparts a sensually spicy and mintalicious refreshment.