Recipes: Derek Brown’s Go-To Non-Alcoholic Cocktails

Doing Dry January? The Columbia Room founder is here to help.

Photograph by Nole Garey.
Dry January Guide

About Dry January Guide

This article is part of our guide to Dry January around DC. Today’s bartenders are catering to the sober—and the sober-curious—with more sophisticated options than ever. Dry January doesn’t have to mean bland January. Here’s how to (not) drink your way through Washington in style.

Skipping booze this January? You can still have a pretty great drink. Just ask Derek Brown—one of the nation’s top bar talents and the brains behind Shaw cocktail destination the Columbia Room. Brown’s second book, Mindful Mixology: A Comprehensive Guide to No- and Low-Alcohol Cocktails with 60 Recipes, comes out January 18th. 

Here, two of his favorite zero-proof drinks this winter:

The Pinch Hitter

A sour cocktail–like a margarita or daiquiri—that replicates the intensity, texture, and piquancy of flavor that you get from alcohol.

Serves 1

2 ounces fresh lemon juice

1 ounce ginger syrup* or fresh ginger juice

1 teaspoon apple-cider vinegar

½ ounce aquafaba

6 drops salt tincture**

Combine ingredients with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon wheel.

*To make ginger syrup (1 cup): boil together 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and add 2 tablespoons grated unpeeled ginger root. Let cool. Add 1 dash lemon juice and strain.

**To make a salt tincture, combine 1 cup boiling water with 1/4 cup salt. Stir until crystals have dissolved. Let cool before using.

Campfire Old Fashioned

This smoky riff on the classic whiskey cocktail has a bite and a rich texture. 

Serves 1

2 ounces strongly brewed Lapsang Souchong tea

½ ounce ginger syrup (see recipe above)

1  egg white

3 drops alcohol-free vanilla extract

3 dashes non-alcoholic bitters

2 teaspoons fresh ginger juice

Orange peel, for garnish

Whip the egg white until lightly frothy and add to mixing glass. Add all other ingredients, plus ice, and stir until combined and chilled. Strain into rocks glass and add fresh ice. Garnish with orange peel.

Lauren Mccaffrey
Editorial Fellow