kelly magyarics

washington, d.c.-based wine, spirits & lifestyle writer / wine educator

703.203.9463

Hold the alcohol, not the flavor

Requesting a non-alcohol drink can be a great litmus test of a bartender's talent and customer service. Merely pressing the club soda tap and dropping in a lime wedge is phoning it in. Combining fresh juices and mixers, along with thoughtful garnishes, raises the bar. But a mixologist who works to recreate the entire cocktail list with non-alcohol offerings? Now that's attention to details and care for the customer.

At DC's PS7, mixologist Gina Chersevani started creating alcohol-free drinks several years ago as favors to friends of hers who were mothers-to-be. When she recently took over the bar program at PS7, she wanted to offer creative and delicious options to non-imbibers. Her solution is apparent in the statement at the bottom of the drinks menu, which announces "Not imbibing tonight? All cocktails are available non-alcoholic."

The ten or so creative tipples available for $10 with booze can also be enjoyed for $6 sans the alcohol. Her Across the Pond, a blend of bourbon, port and lemon, becomes a mixture of n/a orange bitters and homemade sours mix, topped with soda. Even New Orleans' potent tipple the Sazerac gets virginized with a star anise syrup that replaces Absinthe's licorice notes. Chersevani has found that not only pregnant women are opting for the drinks, either. They have also proven to be a popular option at lunchtime for those who want some tasty to sip but want to stay focused--not fuzzy--the rest of the afternoon. Or for lunch meetings with the boss where ordering booze might be awkward and frowned up.