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With people becoming more health conscious and the rise of “sober curious” living, many people are trading in alcoholic beverages for mocktails: non-alcoholic versions of their favorite drinks.

But what makes a mocktail different from your usual soda or juice mixture?

Experts say there needs to be a balance of sweet, savory and bitter, which is often accomplished using spirits, bitters, herbs and other ingredients commonly found in fancy cocktails. Mocktails can offer a wide range of complex flavors without using alcohol, which appeals to culinary enthusiasts and those looking to recreate their favorites without the guilt of indulging in alcohol.Mocktails with blackberries, with orange, with lime and mint leaves

Why Choose Mocktails

But why would someone order a mocktail instead of a regular cocktail?

Some people also simply don’t like the taste of alcohol, or want to avoid the extra calories associated with alcoholic beverages. Others can’t drink due to certain health conditions or addiction issues.

Mocktails also allow people who are avoiding or reducing their alcohol intake to socialize without the added pressure or questions from people about why they’re not drinking. Many mocktails have garnishes and are served in similar glassware to regular cocktails, which helps make it less obvious that one isn’t drinking an alcoholic beverage. They’re also useful for designated drivers who want to get in on the fun of socializing at a bar while staying sober for the drive home.

Whatever your reason for avoiding alcohol, mocktails are a great option and can be found at many bars and restaurants around Buffalo and Niagara Falls.

While most bars are willing to remove alcohol from a beverage when requested, we’ve focused on places that offer specific mocktail recipes on their drink menus.

Prefer to stay in? Read on for mocktail recipes you can easily make at home.

The Best Mocktails in Buffalo & WNY

Waxlight Bar à Vin – Found in Buffalo’s trendy Black Rock neighborhood, Waxlight Bar à Vin is a modern, wine-focused restaurant featuring high-end, farm-to-table plates that change with the seasons. The restaurant was nominated for a James Beard award for its beverages, and it doesn’t treat its mocktails as an afterthought. The restaurant’s nonalcoholic cocktails include options such as limeade, raspberry lemonade, pineapple daiquiri, celery soda, blackberry and beet, and snap pea and lavender, in addition to a strawberry kombucha mocktail. Grab a friend and share some tapas and mocktails while you enjoy the gorgeous weather and classy ambiance on Waxlight’s patio this summer.

Hartman’s Distilling Co. – Hartman’s Distilling Co.’s industrial chic distillery on Chicago Street has become a top watering hole for craft cocktail lovers, but their mocktail menu has also won rave reviews. Their everyday mocktails include the “Que Sera Sera,” which features Seedlip Grove, guava, lavender simple, lime and soda water, along with a mocktail mule, made of Seedlip Grove, lime and ginger beer. Brunch specialties also include the Wet n’ Wild (Seedlip Grove, lime and strawberry and basil simple syrup) along with the You-phoria (Seedlip Grove, watermelon, simple syrup and lemon). Enjoy your mocktail with one of their elevated bar food appetizers or indulgent brunch favorites.

Hartmans Distilling Interior
Photo Credit: Yelp User Nikki G.

Breezy Burrito Bar – You might not expect mocktails at an Elmwood restaurant known for its casual atmosphere and build-your-own-burrito bowls, but Breezy Burrito Bar offers an extensive non-alcoholic cocktail menu to pair with your Mexican food. In fact, the restaurant won the honor of “Best Mocktail in Buffalo” in the city’s 2023 competition for “Persephone’s Passion,” their mocktail with floral notes of hibiscus, rose, and lavender. In their restaurant, they’ve given non-drinkers the opportunity to enjoy a margarita or mojito with their tacos just like their drinking friends. Breezy’s current mocktail menu includes the Pinada, with pineapple, agave, lime and ginger beer; the Berry Nojito, with mint, berries, lime and sugar; and the Mockarita, which includes Ritual zero proof tequila, lime, agave and salt and is available in an assortment of flavors, including mango, strawberry, raspberry and passionfruit.

Lucky Day Whiskey Bar – Lucky Day Whiskey Bar, located on Pearl Street in downtown Buffalo is, of course, best known for whiskey and other spirits, which pair perfectly with its dry-aged steaks and seafood dishes. But you may not realize they’re just as passionate about their mocktails, having also competed in Buffalo’s annual “Best Mocktail” competition. Lucky Day’s mocktail menu includes several nonalcoholic lemonade mixes along with many innovative recipes, including the Faux 75, made with lemon, sugar, soda and Seedlip Grove, a citrus non-alcoholic gin substitute. Other drinks include the Old Mule (made with cucumber, lime, ginger and soda) the Spiced Pear Collins (a sweet and fruity mix of pear nectar, citrus, cinnamon and sugar) and the Cider Ginger Cooler (apple cider, honey, rosemary, ginger and lemon).

Jazzboline Restaurant & Bar – Located near the University at Buffalo’s North campus in Amherst, Jazzboline Restaurant & Bar has a large mocktail menu to go along with its locally sourced chef-crafted dinner and brunch dishes. They’re known for their live music on Wednesday nights, along with their Sunday Jazz brunches, so you can enjoy the tunes while sipping on a delicious non-alcoholic drink. Some highlights from their mocktail menu include a berry mojito (with muddled berries, lime juice, simple syrup and soda), espresso tonic (featuring a double shot of espresso, tonic and an orange slice), and their cranberry fizz (with lime juice, simple syrup, cranberry juice and club soda).

Mocktail Cranberry Fizz

Alchemy Wine & Beer – If you’re looking to enjoy a drink on a fabulous outdoor patio, Hamburg’s Alchemy Wine & Beer is your spot. This wine bar has an extensive menu of cocktails that can be made non-alcoholic, but they also have several specific mocktail options on their menu, including The Pamplemousse (consisting of grapefruit, lavender simple syrup, and seltzer or club soda), Lavender Lemonade (with a lavender lemon simple syrup, lemonade, and seltzer), along with a frozen strawberry slushie that can be topped with coconut milk for a tropical treat. Visitors say the drinks are always on point, along with the popular weekend-only brunch.

frozen strawberry slushie

Mystic Hills Brewing – Take a trip off the beaten path and head out to East Concord for some of the best mocktails and vibes in the area. Located about 40 minutes from downtown Buffalo, this brewery is unlike anything in the city and is well worth the trip. The space itself has an extremely eclectic design, featuring driftwood tap handles, antique oil paintings, stunning light fixtures and unique knick-knacks. Take in the sunset from their relaxing patio as you sip on their wide variety of non-alcoholic cocktails. Their carefully crafted mocktail menu includes a Sevilla Red Sangria, Cafe Carnivale Espresso Martini, Karma Sucra Cosmopolitan and Vida Loca Margarita. There are also seven varieties of nonalcoholic beer available, including a Kölsch, Cerveza and IPAs.

Mystic Hills Brewing Decor
Photo Credit: Yelp User Shannon R.

At Home Mocktail Recipes

Want to enjoy a mocktail from the comfort of your own couch? Here are some mocktail recipes you can make with just a few ingredients at home.

  • Virgin Pina Colada: A creamy non-alcoholic take on the original cocktail made with pineapple juice, cream of coconut, ice and pineapple wedges for garnish.
  • Watermelon Cucumber Slushie: A frozen treat featuring a blend of watermelon, cucumber, honey and champagne vinegar that’s perfect for summer.
  • Rosewater Lemonade: Beat the heat with this infusion of lemon juice, rosewater essence, mint and sugar.
  • Non-Alcoholic Mint Julep: A refreshing mixture of lemon-mint simple syrup, ginger ale, lemon and optional maraschino cherries.
  • Grape-Tarragon Spritzer: A creative flavor combination that includes a homemade tarragon syrup mixed with sweet grapes, lemon juice and sparkling water.
  • Honey-Berry-Kombucha Spritzer: A tasteful explosion of flavor made by combining muddled blackberries, mint, honey, salt and kombucha.

For more mocktail recipes and step-by-step videos, we recommend checking out The Mindful Mocktail on Instagram and YouTube.

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