3 virgin cocktails every bartender should know

Who orders a virgin cocktail?

Drinking alcohol isn’t for everyone so virgin cocktails are a great alternative for bartenders to offer. In fact there are a lot of reasons people should avoid alcohol – pregnancy or other medical conditions, psychological or previous addiction issues, religious or personal preferences.

There may also be young ones at the table. I remember as a kid feeling so grown up when I ordered my first virgin cocktail at dinner with my family. The server smiled a little and raised an eyebrow when I said, “I’ll have a Shirley Temple.”

“Oh, will you now?” she asked knowingly.

“Yes please,” I said confidently and looked at my parents with pride.

From behind the bar, it is also good to see one member of a party as the designated driver. There is no reason they can’t toast an occasion with something more fancy than just a glass of water.

examples of virgin cocktails, one with pineapple juice, the other with grenadine

Why order a virgin cocktail?

There are lots of reasons for someone to refrain from alcohol but that shouldn’t stop them from feeling like part of the group with a cocktail in hand. 

Sometimes it is easier to blend into a social scene with something fruity and boozy-looking in your hand. Virgin cocktails can also get pretty creative and tasty, depending on what ingredients you have available.

Look at your juices and mixes. Review your condiments. There are a lot of directions in which to go!

People may not want the alcohol but they will happily pay and tip you for a drink if it tastes great.

3 Virgin Cocktails

Here are three virgin cocktails every bartender should know because even the most humble bar setup should have the simple ingredients needed.

1. Bitter Tonic

Bitters are actually good for digestion. They are an old remedy for indigestion, nausea, heartburn, gas and bloating.

IMPORTANT NOTE! Digestive bitters are not for pregnant women. They are often made with gentian and angelica, which should be avoided during pregnancy.

Bitter Tonic Recipe

  • Build on ice
  • 1 muddled lemon wedge
  • 4 drops of Angostura bitters
  • Tonic water
  • Lemon wedge to garnish

2. Shirley Temple

A favourite with children, this virgin cocktail is sweet. The girlie name and sweet taste make it difficult to order as an adult but people shouldn’t judge, am it right?

Shirley Temple Recipe

  • Build on ice
  • half a glass of orange juice
  • half a glass of clear soda (7up or Sprite)
  • ½ oz of grenadine
  • Orange wheel and/or cherry to garnish

3. Roy Rogers

You have heard of cherry cola, right? Well a Roy Rogers is the fancy virgin cocktail equivalent, except instead of cherry flavour it is pomegranate.

The thing about cola is that it is already pretty sweet. Adding grenadine makes it that much sweeter, which is why a better cola choice for a Roy Rogers is sweetened with sugar cane rather than high fructose corn syrup. The best option is a cola that is made with the kola nut, which is even less sweet. If you are using a very sweet cola, just use less grenadine so as not to make the cocktail sickly sweet.

Roy Rogers Recipe

  • Build on ice
  • 1 oz of grenadine
  • 6 oz of cola
  • Cherry to garnish
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