If you’re anything like me, you’ll find yourself offering to be the designated driver for any nights out over the festive season. It’s not that I don’t like to indulge in a few drinks every now and then – it’s just that, with farm animals to feed and three small kids, I am less and less enamoured with the idea of “the morning after”. Luckily, there are now many options for low or no-alcohol drinks. With most, you can’t tell you’re not drinking the real thing. Many non-alcoholic spirits are made with the same flavourings – botanicals and bitters, for example – as their alcoholic counterparts.

This is the first holiday season in several years which hasn’t been massively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and we expect to see plenty of parties, family gatherings and concerts on the go in the next several weeks. If you don’t want to drink, or if you find yourself as the evening’s designated driver, here are a few ideas from some of Ireland’s finest bars for alcohol-free cocktails which will still pack a punch and put you in a celebratory mood.

Non-alcoholic spirits to try

Lyre’s non-alcoholic range

American Malt, Italian Orange and Dark Cane spirits are a few of my personal favourites, but Lyre’s makes a non-alcoholic replacement for nearly any cocktail component. You can buy online at lyres.eu (prices sit at around €30 per bottle).

Silk Tree Alcohol Free Gin

Silk Tree is an alcohol-free Irish spirit; infused with fresh botanicals.

This is Irish made and it’s really tasty, too. Silk Tree uses only natural flavourings, like botanicals and spices, in its distilled non-alcoholic spirit. You can use it in a martini or in a gin and tonic. It retails at around €30.

Seedlip Garden 108

Making excellent use of herbal botanicals (think fresh herbs, like rosemary), this spirit is a great replacement for gin in your gin and tonic. 700ml bottle for €33.

Clean Co Alternatives

You can find Clean G Gin (and Clean G Rhubarb Gin) alternatives, Clean R Rum Alternative, Clean V Spiced Apple Vodka Alternative and even Clean T Tequila Alternative at molloys.ie (each costs around €27). The nice thing about these products is the price is reasonable enough for you to fill your home liquor cabinet with these alcohol-free altneratives.

Tale’s End

O’Donoghue Public House, Killarney, Co Kerry

45ml Seedlip Spice 94

15ml green cardamon syrup

15ml yuzu juice

30ml egg white

1 Shake all ingredients over ice.

2 Strain into another shaker and shake again without ice to get the perfect creamy consistency from the egg white.

3 Double-strain into a small, chilled coupe glass.

For the green cardamom syrup (this makes enough syrup for 10 Tale’s End cocktails)

250g caster sugar

125ml filtered water

5g cardamom pods, broken slightly with the flat part of your knife

1 In a saucepan, cook all ingredients together at a brisk simmer, stirring constantly for 20 minutes. You want the temperature at 80°C.

2 Fine-strain the syrup and store in an airtight container. Use within three days or freeze for up to one month.


The K Club, Co Kildare

Espresso Martino.

35ml Seedlip Spice non-alcoholic gin

60ml espresso or very strong brewed coffee

10ml simply sugar syrup (boil 60g sugar with 30ml water for 3-5 minutes, until thickened but still clear)

Coffee beans, for garnish

1 Fill a champagne goblet (not a flute) with ice, to chill.

2 Fill your cocktail shaker with ice.

3 Pour the non-alcoholic gin, espresso and syrup over ice. Cover and shake well for 30 seconds.

4 Empty the ice from the champagne goblet.

5 Strain the cocktail into the chilled glass and top with coffee beans (there should be a nice, white foamy head on the cocktail, which happens when you shake it vigorously).

Straffan Street

The K Club, Co Kildare

Straffan Street

50ml Clean Rhubarb Non-Alcoholic Gin

2 dashes rhubarb bitters, or bitters of your choice

35ml fresh lemon juice

15ml simple sugar syrup (60g sugar simmered with 30ml water for five minutes, as with the espresso martino)

15ml Grenadine

35ml egg white

Edible flowers, to decorate

1 Fill a stemmed goblet with ice to chill while you make the cocktail.

2 Add the egg whites to the shaker, put the lid on and shake vigourously for 30 seconds.

3 Remove the lid of the shaker and fill with ice (over top of the egg whites). Add the Clean Rhubarb Alcohol-Free Gin, Grenadine, lemon juice, bitters and simple syrup.

4 Shake vigourously for 30 seconds.

5 Remove the ice from the goblet and strain the cocktail into the chilled goblet.

6 Garnish with edible flowers and serve while cold.

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