In the almost six years since I last waddled around in the name of procreation — I know, I make it sound so glowy and glamorous — to my delight, two things in particular have changed: 1. You can now get maternity pants that have almost all of the dignity of regular ones, thanks to small elastic panels above each pocket that frankly would be as welcome the day after Thanksgiving as they are now that I’m approaching the six-month mark and people no longer believe me when I said I just had a really big lunch. (However, a New York-specific rule remains: you’re not actually “big” until someone willingly cedes his or her seat on the subway for you, by which standards, I must be svelte. Hey, I’ll take it.) 2. More pertinently to the scope of a cooking website, a whole lot of bars are making really great mocktails.
I credit the fact that there’s been something of a cocktail revolution over the last five years, wherein housemade bitters, syrups, fresh-pressed seasonal juices, sodas and fresh herbs are almost the norm, and the bartenders, nay, mixologists that craft them are name-dropped almost as often as head chefs. People who choose not to drink whether due to beliefs, lifestyle, diet or due date are no longer expected to sip a club soda and twist of lime they could have bought at the local bodega for pennies to take part in what I consider one of the holiest social rituals of spring — hanging out with friends at happy hour on one of the first warm days.
I’m doing my part to try them all and it is in this “research” that I realized I’ve really stiffed this site of a delicious opportunity to have more drinks that work for everyone. The best ones are as good without alcohol as they are with, say, rum, but taste nothing like compromise (not that I can resist teasingly calling it one, just the same). This is a riff on one I had at Jeffrey’s Grocery while killing time between the babysitter arriving and the start time of the party we were going to a couple weekends ago. As written, it had pineapple, lime, honey and coconut in it, but I couldn’t resist adding fresh mint, to complete the glorious mash-up of a piña colada and a mojito. The mint is lightly muddled before shaking the whole of it vigorously* over ice. If you finish it (not pictured) with a splash of fizzy water, the top will foam up as dramatically as an ice cream soda, which was about the point that I realized two other awesome things about mocktails: you don’t have to wait until any time of the day or day of the week for it to be socially acceptable to drink them and you get to share them with your kid. See? Everybody wins.
* and let’s definitely not talk about my husband walking in to ask me a question while I was mid-shake which led somehow to me draping myself and the kitchen head to toe in so much sticky. I promise not to quit my day job to become a bartender, okay?
One year ago: Sizzling Chicken Fajitas
Two years ago: Coconut Bread
Three years ago: Carrot Cake Pancakes
Four years ago: Oat and Maple Syrup Scones
Five years ago: Spinach and Chickpeas
Six years ago: Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Cornbread
Seven years ago: Pasta with Cauliflower, Walnuts and Feta
Eight years ago: Lighter-Than-Air Chocolate Cake
And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Cucumber Lemonade
1.5 Years Ago: Fudgy Chocolate Sheet Cake
2.5 Years Ago: Homemade Wheat Thing
3.5 Years Ago: Roasted Tomato Soup with Broiled Cheddar
The Consolation Prize (A Pineapple, Lime, Coconut and Mint Mocktail)
A little bit mojito, a little bit piña colada, this tastes like everything I miss about warm weather and sandy beaches, and is especially necessary when the weather report has the audacity to predict snow on the first day of spring.
A couple notes: I didn’t photograph it this way, but we discovered later that the smallest splash of seltzer or sparkling water makes this drink foam up gorgeously, and tastes great too. The sweetness level here is fairly low, the way we like it, but I have a hunch that some people might like it with more honey, so definitely adjust to taste, especially if you’re doing what I know you’re going to ask next…
Can you put rum in this? Of course you can! I can’t decide whether dark (the piña colada standard) or light (the mojito standard) would be better. I’ll let you know in a few months.
For four small drinks
A handful of mint leaves
1 cup pineapple juice
1/4 cup lime juice
2 tablespoons honey
3/4 cup coconut milk, well-shaken
Seltzer, to taste
Lime wedges, sprigs of mint or sliced fresh pineapple for garnish
In the bottom of a cocktail shaker, lightly muddle mint — no need to render it into small flecks, but if you break it up a little, more flavor will be released. Add pineapple, lime, honey, coconut milk and a few ice cubes and shake it well. Pour over ice cubes in glasses, finish with a splash of seltzer and garnishes. Close your eyes and pretend you’re somewhere tropical.