nonalcoholic cocktails

24 Nonalcoholic Cocktails- Stimulating Apéritifs and Digestives

Nonalcoholic cocktails are usually not associated with before and after-dinner drinks. By definition, an apéritif is an alcoholic beverage traditionally served before a meal to stimulate the appetite. It originates from the Latin verb aperire, which means to open, and that’s the purpose of the aperitif to open the taste buds and make us feel hungry and ready to enjoy the flavors of our meal.

Drinks and cocktails with a drier perceived taste and not overloaded with sugar are suitable for serving as aperitifs before a meal. Some examples are dry sherry, dry wines, vodka, gin, pastis, ouzo, rakia (ракия), herbal liqueurs (Campari, dry vermouth), dry fortified wines such as Dubonnet – green label), and usually cocktails based on clear spirits.

On the other hand, the digestif is an alcoholic beverage served after a meal to aid digestion. Usually, drinks perceived to be sweeter are served at the end of the meal, with or after dessert. Some examples of drinks generally served as digestif are brandy, whisky(ey), sweet vermouth, liqueurs, port, sweet sherry, specialty coffees, and dark spirits-based cocktails.

Whether one spirit or cocktail is thought to be before or after diner drink also depends on the cultural difference and perception of flavor.
Generally, if one is unsure when to offer a particular drink, serve the dark spirits and heavy and sweet flavored beverages at the end of the meal.

All of these rules sound great, but how about people who don’t like or don’t want to drink alcohol? Are they out of luck?
Of course, not; the acidity in the alcohol might stimulate the flow of stomach juices, but it is not the only option. There are other ways to open the taste buds.
By using herbs, spices, no sweeteners, and keeping the drink on the drier, bitter, and sour side, we will be able to achieve the same goal to stimulate the appetite, and that’s where the nonalcoholic cocktails come to play.


Probably the most famous before diner mocktails are Virgin Mary and Virgin Caesar. Besides being life saviors in the morning, they blend spices and acidity, a combination of aperitif-appetizer, and their savory flavors are ideal for stimulating the appetite before a meal.

The recipes below are intended to be used as ideas and a base for experimentation, mixing, and creating flavors.
Sometimes, even the most unusual recipe might wind up being the most enjoyable one, and we won’t know it until we make the drink.


Apple Brine

For 2 ppl
1 cup apple puree
1 cup sauerkraut juice (brine) – pickled cabbage brine
sugar to taste
Add the brine to the apple puree with constant stirring, sweetened with sugar, if desired. Pour into cups and sprinkle with finely chopped parsley.

Buttermilk Cocktail

For 2 ppl
2 cups buttermilk*
1-2 tablespoons – a mix of chopped parsley, green onions, tarragon
a pinch of salt
a pinch of nutmeg
Add the finely chopped aromatic herbs to the buttermilk*, salt, and beat well. Pour into cups and sprinkle with grated nutmeg.
Note: the drink is based on Chaas – a traditional Indian drink.

Carrots Celery Ginger

4 large carrots,
1/2 small head of celery
1/4 tsp. grated ginger
Mix freshly squeezed carrot juice and celery, add the ginger and drink immediately.
Claim: It is drunk on an empty stomach and is a good tonic for the liver, especially if you have recently overloaded it.

Cucumber Lemon Basil

1cup cucumber juice
1/2 oz lemon juice
a pinch of basil
a pinch of sea salt
a pinch of coriander
Peel a medium-sized cucumber, cut it into cubes, add water, and blend with the other ingredients.
Cool and serve in chilled glasses with some ice.

Fruit and Vegetable Cocktail

For 2 ppl
1/2 cup carrot juice
1/2 cup tomato juice
1/2 cup apple juice
1/2 cup orange juice
Mix the juices and add salt and pepper to taste. Blend and pour into chilled glasses.

Kefir Cucumber

7 oz kefir
2 medium gherkins
salt and pepper
Peel and grate the cucumbers. Cut the dill into small pieces. Stir in the cooled kefir and serve in highball glasses without ice.

Kefir Aperitif

For 2 ppl
10 oz kefir
4 tablespoons green onions,
dill, parsley, salt and pepper
Mash the green onions, dill and parsley with the salt in a mortar, add to the kefir and mix well. Sprinkle with black pepper.

Pineapple Aperitif

1 cup pineapple juice
1/2 oz lemon juice (optional)
a pinch of black pepper
a pinch of salt
Mix the ingredients and serve into chilled glass.
Claim: Drink half an hour before meals. Stimulates the release of enzymes and opens the appetite. It helps if you had a heavy meal for lunch (for example, meat).

Spinach and Apples

2 oz of spinach juice,
5 oz of apple juice
a few drops of lemon juice
Mix, stir, and cool.
Note: Grapefruit juice can be used instead of apple juice.

Spinach Apple Yogurt

For 2 ppl
1 3/4 oz of spinach juice
1 3/4 oz of apple juice
3/4 cup of yogurt
Mix the juices, add the yogurt, blend, and refrigerate.

Tomato Aperitif

For 2 ppl
7 oz tomato juice
2 oz cabbage juice
1 1/2 oz lemon juice
salt and pepper
Mix the mixture well and serve over ice.

Tomato Kefir

For 2 ppl
1 cup of cold kefir
3 oz of cold tomato juice
whipped cream – optional
1 tablespoon finely chopped green onions and parsley
salt and pepper
Muddle onions and parsley in a mortar with salt. Add them to the kefir in a mixing glass, pour the tomato juice, and mix well.
Strain into chilled glasses and sprinkle with black pepper and garnish with whipped cream – whipped cream is optional.

Veggie Aperitif

2 oz of lettuce or salad juice
2 oz of parsnip juice
2 1/2 oz of zucchini juice
1/2 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon of sweet cream – optional
Mix the juices, add the oil, and stir. Serve immediately in a chilled glass. Float cream on top – optional.

Yogurt and Veggies

7 oz yogurt
1/4 oz lemon juice
1 3/4 oz lettuce juice
1 3/4 oz celery juice
1 3/4 oz carrot juice
Mix the juices, add the yogurt, and blend. Serve in a chilled glass.


Some of the tea in the following recipes are very similar to the old traditional Indian masala chai, where the actual tea was not part of the recipes and considered harmful to a person’s health.

Chai with no Tea

For 2 ppl
2 cups water
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
Bring the water to a boil, put the seeds in a heat-proof vessel, pour boiling water over them, and infuse for about 20 min.
Grind/Blend the seeds with the water and strain.
Note: If using spice powder, stir after the infusion and strain before drinking.
Claim: Drink after each meal. Extremely effective for improving digestion.

Ginger Tea

For 4 ppl
1/2 teaspoon grated dried ginger
4 cups of water
1 oz lemon juice (optional)
Bring the water to a boil and add the grated ginger. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 to 30 minutes, depending on how strong you want the tea to be. The more water evaporates, the stronger the tea becomes. Strain, sweeten with honey and add lemon juice.
Claim: Stimulate digestion, especially on cool, humid days. Drink after meals.

After Heavy Meals

For 3 ppl
4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon grated dried ginger
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
a pinch of ground fennel
Bring the water to a boil and add the spices. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 20-30 minutes, depending on how strong you want the tea to be. The more it boils, the stronger it becomes. Strain and drink after meals. This tea is beneficial after heavy (especially legume) foods.

Cardamom Ginger Milkshake

For 2 ppl
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon grated dried ginger
1/4 teaspoon crushed cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup milk (cow or goat)
1 cup water
Mix the water and milk and bring to a boil; add the spices and reduce the heat. Simmer for 15 minutes. Strain and drink after meals.
Claim: Very useful in atonic dyspepsia.

Cardamom Ginger Milkshake 2

For 4 ppl
1/2 cup yogurt
2 cups water
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon grated dried ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
Put all the ingredients (without sugar) in the blender and beat them for 1-2 minutes. Sweeten with sugar to taste.
Claim: Drinking after meals enhances the secretion of digestive enzymes.

Rose Water Milkshake

For 4 ppl
1/2 cup yogurt
2 cups water
1 drop rose water
2 tablespoons sugar
Put all the ingredients (without sugar) in the blender and blend for 1-2 minutes. Sweeten to taste.

Indian Moose Tea

For 4 ppl
1/2 cup yogurt
2 cups water,
1/4 teaspoon grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon cumin (seeds or ground)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
Put all the ingredients (except the cilantro) in the blender and beat for 1-2 minutes. Garnish with fresh coriander and drink at the end of the meal.

Bombay Breakfast Tea

1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
a pinch of cardamom
Boil the water and add the spices. Cover, remove from heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes: strain and drink.
Note: Add 1-2 oz of hot milk for masala chai.

Lunch Tea

1/3 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/3 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/3 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 cup water
Boil the water and add the spices. Remove from the heat and cover. Leave for 10-15 minutes. Strain and sweeten to taste.

Diner Tea

1/8 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/3 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 teaspoon dried chamomile
1 cup water
Boil the water and add the remaining ingredients. Remove from the heat, cover, and stand for 10-15 minutes. Sweeten to taste.

Feature image by Alexander Mils on Unsplash

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