How to Enjoy an Alcohol-Free Valentine’s Day

When you think Valentine’s Day, you think drinks. But where this holiday of love goes against the grain is with our preferred beverages. They’re classy––defined by elegant mixed drinks, cocktails and now, mocktails. With so many Americans going alcohol-free, how can they make this occasion special? 

Mocktails can vary in quality. A fresh, handcrafted spritzy beverage could be the perfect pairing to a Valentine’s Day dinner. But other mocktails are as good as a sticky, syrupy sweet soda––not romantic in the slightest.

And even with great mocktails, there’s nothing actually there. You could drink a gallon of virgin beverages and still wake up the next morning a virgin. Ok, I may have gone too far there. We don’t condone alcoholism at Why do you think we’re making an alcohol-free guide!

loosening up isn’t bad in moderation. And these tips can get you there in extreme moderation!

Mocktail Presentation is Everything

Red mocktail with dried orange garnish
The Bombay Butterfly

Presentation is where many mocktail makers miserably blunder a mundane yet meritorious act in the mixology process. Even with Valentine’s Day’s high-class mocktails, presentation is disgustingly overlooked.

Think of it this way: cocktails have notoriety. They’re, to many, the definition of status, while mocktails have minimal status and even some infamy (Remember what I said about syrupy sweet faux mocktails?). With mocktails, you have to make the best with what you’re given. 

And the Bombay Butterfly from Bombay Brasserie in Cape Town is an excellent example of making the best of its elements. It’s simple yet evokes passion––perfect for Valentine’s Day. Classy garnishing and a medium flavor profile act as a substitute for notoriety. It makes you think it might just go against the trashy side of the mocktail reputation.

Bottom line, make your alcohol-free beverages aesthetically pleasing. It adds to the experience!

Use Active Alcohol-Free Ingredients

Pink mocktail with blood orange and mint garnish
The Pink Citrus

It’s in the name “alcohol-free drink.” There’s no alcohol. So then, how can we replicate the stimulating chemical we’ve just taken out? The answer: active ingredients.

Now, I’m not telling you to use elephant tranquilizer. But there are definitely great options that can substitute the effects of alcohol while being far safer.

Try adding water-soluble CBD/THC powder before shaking your mocktail. Tinctures work too, but the oil tends to stay at the top and never thoroughly mixes with drinks. 

If you aren’t hooked on caffeine, it would also be a great non-alcoholic addition. If you are hooked, it won’t do much. Your body produces the antidote to caffeine when you drink a lot of it––no Valentine’s Day passion to invoke there.

You could also try a non-traditional stimulant. I just tried one recently. As you may have guessed, I’m in South Africa. And they like to show the American tourists a good time. 

I was just eating at a local vegan restaurant, and I guess I stood out as a tourist. A lady who ran the restaurant’s social media offered me something called Euphorika, which is a gut shot-type product derived from the Kanna plant––an ancient pick-me-up still used by the local tribes. It took a while to kick in, but I’ll tell you, it sure worked as advertised.

The Pink Citrus, once again from Bombay Brasserie, is a nice example of active-ingredient use in alcohol-free drinks. It had a lot of caffeine. Though it wasn’t added by the bartender. 

Sometimes you find yourself mixing concentrated caffeine into your drink at a restaurant. Sometimes you find yourself researching elephant tranquilizer’s scientific name for a story. It’s carfentanil, by the way.

Realistic Flavor is Key for Mocktails

Bartender pouring bitters into a cocktail shaker
Our bartender, Salem, adding bitters to our mocktail

The line between mocktails and soda is hazy. And making your mocktails reflect the typical cocktail flavor profile will bolden this line. So try and replicate the flavor of alcohol with non-alcoholic ingredients.

Alcohol is infamously bitter. And though that may be a turn-off for some, for most, it’s what defines mixology. You can give your mocktails a light spritz flare by just adding some herbal bitters to the mix. If you’re using fruit juices, bitter orange or grapefruit will achieve the same effect.

Alcohol isn’t just bitter––it burns. So spicy ingredients can also be central to realistic mocktail flavor. Jalapenos have a great taste and add a medium after-sip burn. But if you don’t want more flavors messing around with each other, you can add pure capsaicin powder. Just be careful because the stuff is really concentrated.

Make it On-Brand for Valentine’s Day

Pink mocktail with mint and strawberry garnish
The Passionate

You wouldn’t drink anything non-green on St. Patty’s day, so why drink any non-Valentine’s Day-themed mocktails for this occasion? 

You have variety with Valentine’s Day. Deep reds and pastel pinks both work. Anything romantic or cutesy will go.

This drink leans towards the cutesy side. It’s the last drink we tried at Bombay Brasserie, called Passionate. Honestly, this mocktail kind of throws out all of the other tips we gave. It screams Valentine’s Day, though. It felt like a blood ritual, and Hello Kitty was our subject.

Just Say Nothing

Man drinking mocktail in Bombay Brasserie's lounge
Christopher Elliott enjoys The Passionate

Don’t tell your partner or mention anything about the drink. Let both you and them assume what it is and what it should do. If you think you’re going to feel alcohol-type effects with your drink, you will, even if there’s nothing in it.

Just saying nothing can help better the experience of both you and your partner that you have. And I understand there’s an ethical question with this. But you’re not putting rat poison in the damn thing. If there was alcohol or other addictive substances, then there’s an issue.

Make the Most of Your Alcohol-Free Valentine’s Day!

Man smiling with mocktail in Bombay Brasserie's lounge
Christopher Elliott lounging with The Pink Citrus

And that’s how you perfect your alcohol-free valentine’s day experience. This is what makes the best mocktail for valentines day––a real mocktail rather than shaken soda.

And these tips apply to a lot more than just Valentine’s Day. You can use them for alcohol-free drinks in general, particularly when it comes to adding realistic flavors.

Bottom line, if your mocktail looks good, tastes good and is Valentine’s Day-themed, you might be on to something. Oh, and some active ingredients help too!