When the pandemic first hit in 2020, many adult drinkers out there went one of two ways. Either they increased their alcohol consumption to feverish (and often unsustainable) levels, or they cut back, with some opting to cut alcohol out of their lives entirely.
Fortunately, both newly sober and longtime sober Houstonians still have plenty of ways to imbibe while out on the town thanks to the rapid proliferation of mocktails, which are carving out space for themselves at a dizzying pace on cocktail menus across the city.
With so many mocktail options out there, it can be hard to decide which ones to try first. In order to make your zero-proof search easier, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite local mocktails so that you can spend your evening sucking them up through a straw instead of having your time sucked up through fruitless Google searches. After all, that’s the kind of tedium that drives folks to drink in the first place—and we don’t want any of that.
Bludorn’s bountiful cocktail menu features four zero-proof cocktails carefully curated by the restaurant’s beverage director, Darryl Chan. Our pick for this fall is the Sardoodledom, made with espresso, star anise, citrus, and tonic.
Tiny Champions: Winner’s Circle
Bohemian, homestyle-Italian restaurant Tiny Champions has become an institution in Houston’s East End. While the pizzas there are top-notch, the mocktails are also quite stellar. Our favorite is the Winner’s Circle, made from celery, lemon, cardamom, citrus oleo, and a little touch of fizz.
Lulu's: Amalfi Coast
Lulu’s in River Oaks brings its A-game when it comes to zero-proof mocktails, with a menu that features three of them. A customer favorite is the Amalfi Coast, a simple mix of Seedlip Spice 94 and tonic.
Ouzo Bay: Chronos
Mediterranean River Oaks District eatery Ouzo Bay recently relaunched a lunch menu that features three killer mocktails. Our favorite is the Chronos, made with Lyre’s London dry spirit, lemon, orgeat, and passion fruit.
Better Luck Tomorrow: Sin & Tonic
Bobby Heugel and Justin Yu’s Heights staple Better Luck Tomorrow serves up some of the best cocktails in the city. The bar’s mocktails likewise raise the, well, bar. Our favorite is the Sin & Tonic, made from Seedlip Grove, rooibos, grapefruit, agave, and Mediterranean tonic.
Le Colonial: Mua Xuan
Although Le Colonial is famous for its authentic Vietnamese cuisine, the River Oaks District hot spot also has two mocktails on its menu. The Mua Xuan, featuring spring blackberries, lemon juice, Sprite, and mint, totally merits writing home about.