The Savoy Cocktail Book might just be the most important book ever written on the subject, and in fact, starts with the bold declaration, "Hereinafter learn all that is known about cocktails". Published in 1930 by Harry Craddock, the head bartender of the American Bar in the Savoy Hotel in London, it contains over 750 classic recipes—most of them wildly obscure now, but many that have stood the test of time. There's even a section for "Non-Alcoholic Cocktails", and although it only contains 4 cocktails, there are a couple of winners there.
One of those drinks, the Keep Sober Cocktail, is simple and delicious, calling for tonic water, grenadine, and a "Sirop-de-Citron". While there's no recipe provided for that last ingredient, we believe it was a strong lemon syrup made from both lemon peels and juice with sugar (similar to a simple syrup but without any water), and have provided our recipe in the notes below. With a couple of tweaks for better balance—the original called for too much grenadine, in our opinion—this drink is brightly bitter, tart, and just sweet enough.
We've added our alcohol-free Orange bitters to the recipe for a bit more depth and zing, and prefer this with Betty Buzz Tonic Water. Light and refreshing, Betty Buzz is a little less bitter and less sweet than your typical tonic, making it the perfect partner for the intense lemon syrup and grenadine.
Keep Sober Cocktail (Non-Alcoholic)
Non-Alcoholic Cocktail / Low-Alcohol / Zero Proof / Mocktail Recipes
This easy NA cocktail satisfies with tonic, lemon syrup, and orange bitters.
5 ounces tonic water
¾ ounce bitter lemon syrup
1 tsp grenadine
3 dashes All The Bitter Orange bitters
Add lemon syrup, grenadine, and orange bitters to a highball glass.
Fill the glass with ice, top it with tonic water, and stir briefly.
Garnish with a lemon wheel and cherry (optional).
You can certainly purchase lemon syrup, but this is one of those recipes where every ingredient shines brightly, and you'll absolutely be rewarded by taking a few minutes to make the syrup from scratch. (Note that you can easily make grenadine, too, which is far superior to the store-bought stuff. There's so little in this recipe, however, that we just went ahead and used Rose's.)
BITTER LEMON SYRUP RECIPE
First, peel 4 lemons fully. We like to get plenty of the white pith in there, but if you prefer your drinks less bitter, be sure to peel the lemons more gently, avoiding as much of the pith as possible. (Note: swivel peelers will take off more pith, Y-peelers will remove less pith.) Add the peels to a small sauce pot. Juice enough of the lemons to make 1/2 cup of juice, and add that to the pot along with 1/2 cup of white sugar. Bring the mixture barely to a simmer, then reduce the heat to very low for 10 minutes. Remove from the burner, let it cool for 20-30 minutes, then strain and bottle.
Lemon syrup will last in the fridge for at least a month. This recipe can be scaled up and frozen.
MAKE IT MINDFULLY LOW ALCOHOL
Just because the original recipe didn't call for alcohol doesn't mean you can't add a little! Try adding 3/4 oz of Betty Buzz's boo's Aviation Gin for a cocktail that's half the strength of one regular drink.