Here’s How to Make Danny Trejo’s Favorite Booze-Free Cocktails at Home
The legendary action hero, lifelong Angeleno, and man behind the Trejo’s empire of restaurants shares zero-alcohol cocktails in this excerpt from his new cookbook, Trejo’s Cantina.
When I stopped drinking alcohol some 50-plus years ago, I started drinking a lot of stuff that wasn’t necessarily all that great for me. Sugary drinks were pretty much the only alternative if you didn’t want to drink club soda, water, or coffee. In the penitentiary, I’d drink Pepsi, Coke, Kool-Aid, or iced tea. After I got out, my go-to drink at a party or bar would be cranberry and Sprite. When I didn’t want that much sugar I’d go for cranberry and soda. Not a thrilling menu of options.
What a difference it is for nondrinkers today. We are living in the golden era of nonalcoholic drinks and it’s hands down the best time in history to be a non-imbiber of alcohol. Not only are bartenders experimenting with booze-free drinks that have all the inventiveness and creativity of mixology, but there’s a whole range of zero-alcohol wines and “spirits” that are infused with herbs and spices and have backbone and bite without relying on ethyl alcohol. There are even a number of bars opening up that don’t stock a single bottle of booze. They’ve got the bar and the barstools, the sound system, and the cool, fun people—and they stay open late—but they don’t have the alcohol. While some folks like to call a drink without alcohol a mocktail, I don’t think that word does justice to these new delicious creations. They’re not “mock” anything. They’re totally original, authentically delicious, and true to themselves. And they’ll never give you a hangover or a DUI!
Because you’re not going to be relying on spirits for flavor, you’re going to need to learn a few basic preparations, tools, and techniques to make the nonalcoholic drinks in this book. You’re going to be using fresh juices for natural sweetness, body, and flavor; fresh herbs for aroma; spice-infused syrups for additional depth; and sometimes even tea for tannin (that raspy bite that makes your tongue a bit dry). Making these drinks is actually a lot more like cooking than mixing liquids as you might for a margarita or old fashioned. And just like cooking, you can modify things to suit your own taste. Is something too sweet? Then cut back on the sugar. Is a spicy syrup not spicy enough for you? Then by all means double up on the chiles. And once you learn the principles of zero-alcohol drink-making you’ll be improvising your own nonalcoholic drinks at home in no time.
I like Shirley Temple the actor a lot more than Shirley Temple the drink. And these nonalcoholic drinks developed in our Top Secret Hollywood culinary laboratory behind triple- locked doors (kidding) are some of the most delicious things I’ve ever tasted, and prove that you don’t need booze to make a sophisticated drink that tastes like a full-on celebration. Loaded with spices and seasonal tropical fruits, and balanced with infusions, these drinks will blow your mind.
Whether you’re sober, sober-curious, or drinking less for physical, mental, or spiritual health reasons, I feel pretty confident that you’ll find something here that speaks to you. Some are totally original multi-step project drinks you can make in big batches to sip throughout the week or share with your family and friends. Others are single servings you can whip up to toast the day, while some are based on Mexican classic cocktails. As with any recipe I’ve ever shared, I encourage you to take or leave what you want, and modify to your liking. Some people like more lime, others like it spicy, while others have a sweet tooth. Only you know what you like, so treat each recipe like an expert suggestion or starting point but not a strict set of rules. By now you might’ve picked up that I’m not a big fan of rules, but I do like delicious things. And now that I have these drinks around I will never have to drink a Shirley Temple again! Cheers to that!
Shake These up Yourself
Cucumber-Jalapeño Agua Fresca
All Day Baby
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