Whether it’s Dry January, “Sober October,” or you simply want a fun non-alcoholic beverage, mocktails are a great solution. I have arguably the perfect recipe for you. This non-alcoholic negroni is easy to make and packs a punch (even without the alcohol). Traditionally, Negronis are made from a mix of dry gin, bitters, and sweet vermouth, but with a simple swap of pomegranate juice and citrus, you can still have a fun, festive beverage.
You may assume that as a Registered Dietitian, I’m only focused on the health aspects of recipes. However, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I believe healthy food can be full of flavor, and should be! Luckily, this beverage is both healthy and delicious. A lot of my clients need to move away from alcohol for a variety of reasons – treatment, medications, or medical conditions – but that doesn’t mean that they can only drink plain water. Mocktails that contain antioxidant-rich ingredients like POM juice can be a delicious part of your anti-inflammatory plan.
History of the negroni
I’m a big proponent of eating more mindfully, read more on that here. As a way to practice mindfulness, I’m always interested in the history of my food, and where it comes from. So let me share a little of what I’ve learned about the Negroni.
In the early 1900s, an Italian count named Camillo Negroni walked into his favorite bar like a scene out of an old Western movie. At the time, the Americano, a mixture of sweet vermouth and club soda, was all the rage. However, Camillo insisted it be stronger. He asked the bartender to sub the soda for gin and the rest was history. Now the drink is served all around the world as one of the most popular cocktails.
Making the non-alcoholic negroni
Pomegranates and pomegranate juice are staples in many of my recipes, see my Pomegranate Ginger Mocktail recipe or my Winter Pomegranate and Persimmon Smoothie Bowl for more options. The deep red from the pomegranate juice is not only visually appealing, but packed with healthful flavonoids called anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are antioxidants that help reduce inflammatory chemicals within the body. They are also responsible for improving insulin sensitivity and reducing blood pressure. Plus, they add a delicious bitterness to the drink. Win, win! As with all juices it’s good to look for unsweetened versions. This way if you want a little sweetness you are in control of how much. The pre-sweetened versions can have a lot of unneeded added sugars.
Did you know that bitters can help with digestion? They are made from a concentrate of herbs and spices that encourage salivation to help break down food. At 44% alcohol content, this ingredient is merely meant to be a flavor enhancer. So be careful, a little goes a long way.
I love adding lemon slices to this drink for added acidic ‘zing’ and a pop of color. Adding citrus is a great way to balance the strong tart flavors from the pomegranate. Don’t have lemons? Feel free to swab them out for limes or orange slices.
A common conversation I have with my clients is how to increase water consumption. One thing that I find works for most individuals is soda water. Specifically, soda water with no added sugar or artificial sweeteners. So if you don’t have soda water in your home already, let this non-alcoholic negroni be an excuse to add it to your grocery list.
Putting it all together
Start off by filling 2 glasses about half full with ice. Negronis are traditionally served in a rocks glass, sometimes called an old fashioned glass, but any glass you have works just fine.
Next, add a cup of ice, the POM juice, bitters, and lemon slices to your shaker . Tip: if you don’t have a shaker, use a water bottle that has a closed top option, it works just as well. Shake hard for around 30 seconds then pour the mixture over the ice in each glass. Make sure to reserve a lemon slice for each glass.
To finish, pour about ½ cup of soda water on top and add some pomegranate arils for extra flair. Easy as that.
Is this appropriate for people under 21?
Certainly. It is important to note that depending on taste preferences, the angostura bitters can be strong for those who are not familiar with the taste.
Can I add alcohol to this mocktail?
Of course, feel free to reduce the portion of pomegranate juice and soda water and replace with traditional Negroni liquor of dry gin and sweet vermouth.
Is this diabetic-friendly?
It does contain fruit juice which can raise blood sugars. Even “natural” sugars can be a challenge for blood sugar management. The goal for diabetes is to keep blood sugar levels balanced, so this could definitely fit into a diabetic diet but keep in mind that it does have the potential to raise your blood glucose.
Fill 2 glasses with ½ cup of ice cubes each (about half of each glass)
In a shaker, add a cup of ice, then add the POM juice, bitters, and lemon slices. Shake hard for 30 seconds then pour the mixture over the ice in each glass. Be sure that a slice of lemon ends up in each.
Top each glass with about ½ cup of soda water and pomegranate arils to decorate.
Calories: 42kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 1g