Mocktail Bars: Where Designated Drivers Drink

— by Caroline on Crack

Flickr Shot by code_martial

Flickr Shot (not an L.A. mocktail) by code_martial

Unless you don’t like drinking liquor anyway, it can be a bit of a drag to be the designated driver for your drunkard friends. You have to sit there on your bar stool sipping on your tiny, weak soda while they get to enjoy pretty, decked-out specialty cocktails. Fortunately, there are some lovely nonalcoholic options out there for you responsible folk, and I’m not talking O’Douls.

West L.A.’s Arsenal has a special section of its drink menu dedicated to “teetotalers.” But if you don’t want a latte or Red Bull, opt for the Fauxtini ($2) which promises “all of the fun, none of the booze.”

Ugo Italian Bar in Culver City presents an array of juicy virgin cocktails ($8) for the sober barhopper. Yeah, I know, eight bucks IS a pretty penny for something that doesn’t even have alcohol. But if it’ll make you feel better, the “real” drinks cost $12 and up.

  • Bubbly Bellini: Peach Bellini, grenadine and club soda
  • Gingerly: Cranberry juice, orange juice and ginger ale
  • The Grenadini: Grenadine, orange juice and pineapple juice
  • Pomegranate Palmer: Iced tea, lemonade and pomegranate juice
  • Spring Fever: Lemon juice, apple juice, blood orange juice and mango

The industry-crowded X bar in Century City offers an impressive list of tasty “spirited alternatives” ($7) that mirror alcoholic versions to keep agents in AA in the action.

  • Citrus Mint Cooler: faux mojito with fresh mint muddled with lime, rock candy syrup and soda water
  • Coco Colada: faux pina colada with blended pineapple juice and coconut milk
  • Pomegranate Garden Mint Soda: faux pomegranate mojito with pomegranate juice, muddled mint, club soda and a mint sprig.

Velvet Margarita Cantina on the Cahuenga Corridor may not have a nonalcoholic alternative to its Pink Puta cocktail but it does have some yummy coffee drinks ($4). So while your friends are sauced, you’re wired.

  • Cafe Chicano: a latte with chocolate and cinnamon
  • Cafe Mexicano: a latte with chocolate
  • Cocoa Loco: a latte with coconut and chocolate

Cheers to you, designated drivers everywhere. I couldn’t do what I do without you, and goodness knows there are several celebutantes out there who could use friends like you. Too bad there aren’t more bars doing this. It’s a brilliant idea.

On a random note and yet in the same vein, if you’re throwing a wine dinner and anticipate some nondrinking participants, buy some bottles of Vignette Wine Country Sodas. I first saw these at the City Bakery in Brentwood Country Mart and later at Bottega in West L.A.

They’re nonalcoholic sodas made with juices from wine varietal grapes and are available in Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Rose. The Chardonnay was surprisingly my favorite, tasting of a light and refreshing pear drink. The Pinot Noir wasn’t as intense in flavor. Anyhoo when poured in wine glasses you can hardly tell that they’re innocent except for some mild fizzing.

Posted on LAist.