The Best Nonalcoholic Drinks in Boston
Time for some post-holiday detoxing? Luckily, our city’s top watering holes also happen to cater to the teetotaler, serving up nonalcoholic drinks that are just as creative as the boozy versions—only usually cheaper. Here are 12 ways to save your liver (and your paycheck) at the best bars in Boston.
Alden & Harlow
While we love the cocktails at chef Michael Scelfo’s subterranean Harvard Square haunt (one of our favorite restaurants at the moment), their nonalcoholic offerings are just as inspired. Case in point: the Grapeful Dead, which mixes grapefruit juice with housemade ginger beer, smoked celery agave nectar, and fresh lime juice.
Alden & Harlow, 40 Brattle St., Cambridge, 617-864-2100, aldenharlow.com.
Our strangely balmy winter has done nothing to diminish our enthusiasm for Backbar’s Tropical Heat Wave, a concoction of pineapple juice, cocoa nib tea, and chipotle/cinnamon syrup—just the sort of thing one would expect from the city’s best teetotaler’s haunt.
Backbar, 7 Sanborn Ct., Somerville, 617-718-0249, backbarunion.com.
Bistro du Midi
A good French restaurant puts utmost care into its wine list—and Bistro du Midi’s star sommelier Todd Lipman is bringing the same attention to its other drinks. His current creation, the Verte, is an alcohol-free refreshment ready-made for winter detoxing, with muddled cucumber, green tea, and lime.
Bistro du Midi, 272 Boylston St., Boston, 617-426-7878, bistrodumidi.com.
Leave it to Todd Maul and the rest of the alchemists at Kendall Square’s forward-thinking, envelope-pushing restaurant to whip up the city’s most exciting mocktails. Their wide-ranging menu includes Mango and Rosemary (ginger beer and lime, with a mango-and-rosemary-layered ice cube), Orange Creamsicle (orange blossom water, condensed dairy, orange peel dust, and a clarified orange ice ball), and the Zen Coolie (hibiscus iced tea, rose water, honey, and peppermint ice shards). Like it hot? Spring for the Urfa Hot Chocolate, Burnt Cinnamon Cider, Matcha Latte, or Peppermint Mocha.
Café ArtScience, 650 E. Kendall St., Cambridge, 857-999-2193, cafeartscience.com.
Just as with its low-country menu—filled with such Southern fare as pickled shrimp, sorghum-laced sweets, and hoppin’ John—JP’s Frogmore serves up drinks inspired by warmer climes. On their current mocktail menu: the Shifting Winds (pomegranate, ginger, lemon, and soda) and the Sweater Weather (grapefuit and lime accented with cardamom).
The Frogmore, 365 Centre St., Jamaica Plain, 857-203-9462, thefrogmore.com.
Island Creek Oyster Bar
Looking to wash down those award-winning oysters with something a little different? Get all of the tiki, with none of the tipsy, with Abigail’s Delight, a soda of fresh pineapple and house-made orgeat. You can also opt for the sweet-and-sour Lizzie Swizzle or the sparkling Wags #2, made with pomegranate syrup and fresh lemon.
Island Creek Oyster Bar, 500 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, 617-532-5300, islandcreekoysterbar.com.
Liquid Art House
As the name might suggest, LAH is well-versed in the art of all things liquid. There’s many a boundary-pushing cocktail at the cool pool of marble that is the bar in the center of its eye-candy-bedecked atrium. But guests should also try their un-spiked offerings too, including their Passionfruit Lemonade and Red Lychee drinks.
Liquid Art House, 100 Arlington St., Boston, 617-457-8130, liquidarthouse.com.
Though Lolita’s penchant for strong drinks—here, bartenders pour more than 50 varieties of tequila—makes the tony Back Bar taco spot one of our favorite pickup bars, it’s also won us over with their large selection of house-made, nonalcoholic frescas. Get flavors like lime coconut, prickly pear, and Vinedo (white and concord grapes, fresh berries, and orange), or order any of their house mojitos “innocente” (i.e., without rum), by the glass or by the pitcher.
Lolita, 271 Dartmouth St., Boston, 617-369-5609, lolitatequilabars.com.
We salute our favorite food truck turned brick-and-mortar restaurant for its innovative dumplings. But let’s not overlook its other smashing menu items, including a whole roster of creative drinks. Among them: the Hot Buttered Fire Cider, an invigorating mix of ginger, honey, chilies, and butter.
Mei Mei, 506 Park Dr., Boston, 857-250-4959, meimeistreetkitchen.com.
We’ve long lauded Sarma’s skill with delicate herbs and spices, and the much-beloved Somerville Mediterranean joint brings that same knack to their drinks menu. On the soft drinks side, try the coriander-laced Sumac Lemonade, Saffron Sharbat (soda with saffron, rose, and citrus), or the Buzz Aldrin—an out-of-this-world nod to Tang, made with orange, cinnamon, and sage.
Sarma, 249 Pearl St., Somerville, 617-764-4464, sarmarestaurant.com.
From unbeatable ambience (where else can you spend a night listening to old-school hip-hop and watching kung-fu movies?) to addictively good small plates and killer ramen, Shojo pretty much nails everything it does. And so it’s no surprise that, in addition to its masterful craft cocktail list, they’ve got a formidable slate of virgin drinks too, including the Lavender Bitter Tonic, a bracing mix of grapefruit, lavender, and lemon flavors.
Shojo, 9A Tyler St., Boston, 617-423-7888, shojoboston.com.
The Tip Tap Room
Chef Brian Poe’s Beacon Hill spot gets its high-concept name from its superlative steak tips and its impressive selection of craft beer. But the savvy visitor would do well to explore the other nooks and crannies of the menu, which includes the Rosemary-Yuzu Limeade, a refreshing elixir featuring the citrusy taste of the Japanese yuzu fruit.
The Tip Tap Room, 138 Cambridge St., Boston, 857-350-3344, thetiptaproom.com.