Smile Politely

This Urbana mocktail making lab inspired me to choose no booze

On a yellow table cloth, there are lime leafs on a wooden cutting board beside Cloud Mountain Kombucha glass for a mocktail making in Urbana. Photo by Alyssa Buckley
Alyssa Buckley

As someone who enjoys alcoholic beverages, I am no teetotaler, so I don’t always go for mocktails. After last week’s mocktail lab hosted by Katie’s Cocktails though, I am definitely more interested than I’ve ever been in non-alcoholic mixed drinks.

Hosted at Cloud Mountain Kombucha, last Wednesday’s mocktail making lab by Katie Carrillo was a sold-out event. For $25, my ticket included a kombucha lecture and mocktail lesson, a pour of any flavor of Cloud Mountain’s kombucha, and two mocktails.

Alyssa Buckley

For my half pint, I picked the apple, lime leaf, and mint kombucha, which was the kombucha flavor in the event’s mocktail.

Alyssa Buckley

The set up was super cute. In addition to pen and paper for notetaking, each seat was set with tools to mix up mocktails. The mocktail making was a communal experience, and even though I attended alone, my tablemates were nice and Cloud Mountain Kombucha fans, too, so we were fast friends.

Alyssa Buckley

Katie led with a lecture on the intricacies, history, and flavors of kombucha, and she was so fun about it. Then, she showed us how to make the mocktail: an apple, lime leaf, and mint refresher, explaining each step but telling us to adjust the recipe to our tastes.

Alyssa Buckley

We could choose from five different kinds of mint (I didn’t know there were that many kinds of mint!), several flavors of bitters, and floral waters. I followed the recipe as best as I could for my first mocktail, and the drink was refreshing and delicious despite my over-zealous spritzing of orange blossom water. It was fun to decide which fresh mint to use, and I especially liked learning how to slap the lime leaf to release more flavor.

Alyssa Buckley

The drink was complex; the muddled mint was aromatic, and the almond syrup pulled out the nuttiness of the green tea. I had never tried a tequila alternative before, but this one added a little smokiness like mezcal. After mixing one mocktail, Katie encouraged us to mix a second version but with different ratios or ingredients. Since I learned a lot from making the first drink, the second one tasted even better. I subbed celery bitters for orange, increased the kombucha, and totally eliminated floral water. As the drink sipped, the flavors opened up even more, and I enjoyed the mocktail’s mellow sour freshness.

Did this class make me a mocktail convert? Honestly, yes. Though I don’t foresee mocktails replacing my love of cocktails, it was cool to learn from someone so passionate about beverages. She encouraged us to adjust ratios, so we could see that drink mixing isn’t all that intimidating. Empowered to mix mocktails at home, I’ve since made two different mocktails using kombucha and fresh herbs. I am now in my mocktail-making era.

Next month, Katie’s mocktail lab at Cloud Mountain Kombucha will feature a strawberry rhubarb kombucha in June’s non-alcoholic drink. Follow Katie on Instagram for updates on classes, or check out Cloud Mountain’s site for tickets.

Food + Drink Editor / / instagram

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