There are any number of reasons one might seek out a low-ABV cocktail. For some, opting for beverages lower in alcohol is a great way to start the year off more moderately without going fully “dry.” For others, low-ABV drinks provide a more sessionable alternative to ultra-boozy options for any occasion. Whatever the case, it’s not a bad idea to have a few solid low-proof drinks in your cocktail arsenal. For some of the best, VinePair consulted bartenders at top bars and restaurants for their favorite low-alcohol recipes.
Read on for “proof” that the low-ABV world has so much more to offer than the Aperol Spritz.
Ace of Cups
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Next Wave Award winner Julia Momosé created this low-proof cocktail just in time for the new year. The Chicago-based bartender and founder of Cocktails for Hope suggests this highball riff for damp January participants in search of something fresh.
1. Combine Legent Bourbon, yellow chartreuse, berry syrup, and lemon juice in a shaker tin.
2. Shake briefly to chill and strain into a highball glass of ice.
3. Top off with club soda and garnish with a mint sprig.
Garden in Summer
1 ½ ounces Lillet Rosé
¼ ounce 1:1 simple syrup
½ ounce fresh lime juice
1 ounce watermelon juice
2 ounces Fever Tree Elderflower Tonic
Garnish: 1 cucumber ribbon
1. Prepare a Collins glass by wrapping the cucumber ribbon around the inside of the glass so the top of the ribbon sits above the rim of the glass like a horse’s neck.
2. Combine all ingredients except cucumber and tonic in a cocktail shaker.
3. Shake with ice.
4. Double strain over fresh ice in the prepared Collins glass.
5. Top with the Elderflower Tonic.
The Sun Also Rises
Created by Horse Inn bartender Tim Heege, this low-ABV cocktail is a riff on a Hemingway Daiquiri. Substituting dry vermouth for the rum lowers its alcohol content and adds herbaceous and floral qualities without adding any sweetness to offset the balance of the cocktail.
1 ½ ounces Dolin Dry Vermouth
¾ ounce grapefruit juice
½ ounce lime juice
½ ounce simple syrup
¼ ounce Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
1. Add all ingredients to a shaker tin.
2. Shake, and strain over ice in a rocks glass.
3. Garnish with a grapefruit peel.
Ready for a cocktail project? Jay Khan, co-founder and beverage director of Hong Kong’s COA, developed this recipe for customers seeking a sessionable tipple. Made with homemade plum-infused tequila, spicy chile liqueur, and fresh guava soda, this drink is a labor of love. But one sip is all you need to know it’s worth the extra effort.
15 milliliters salted plum infused Tequila Ocho blanco (recipe follows)
15 milliliters Ancho Reyes verde chile liqueur
1 teaspoon citric acid solution
100 milliliters clarified guava soda (recipe follows)
Garnish: micro nasturtium leaf
1. Add all ingredients to highball glass and top with ice.
2. Stir and garnish with nasturtium leaf.
Salted plum infused tequila
100 grams salted plum
750 millilters tequila.
Sous vide for exactly 13 mins at 62 degree Celsius.
Clarified Guava soda
2 liters fresh ripe guava juice
Centrifuge 4200rpm at 12 minutes.
Golden God (makes 2 cocktails)
Aaron Polsky is the founder of LiveWire Drinks, an RTD cocktail brand that puts bartenders at the forefront of each product. Each RTD was created and developed by a star bartender — including the Golden God, Polsky’s own recipe. Though the drink tastes delicious right out of the can, this recipe allows home bartenders to mix up their own versions.
1. Combine ingredients in a shaker and let sit for 10 minutes.
2. If using a tea bag, remove the bag after 10 minutes.
3. Add ice, shake, and strain into two glasses with a fine strainer.
4. Top with refrigerated soda (about 5 ounces per glass, ice optional).
5. Garnish with dried apricot.