Photo Credit: Test Pilot
Mocktails are having a moment and we are here for it. Whether you’re making it a Dry January, steering clear of day drinking, or abstaining from alcohol altogether, you don’t have to miss out on tasty concoctions and local specialty drinks when visiting Santa Barbara cocktail bars and restaurants. We’ve rounded up 10+ hot spots that have created thoughtful non-alcoholic drink recipes for their patrons. And if you’re in the market for local souvenirs to create zero-proof drinks at home, we’ve also included a list of makers whose shrubs and mixers make mocktail magic as well as a new local non-alcoholic wine. Cheers to your health!
A tiki bar at heart, Test Pilot is one of the region’s most respected craft cocktail destinations. So it’s no surprise that their mocktail menu receives equal consideration. Tropical flavors dominate, from the simple fresh young coconut water and the Virgin Buccaneer to the rotating local shrub mocktails and Orgeat Fizz. The same management company, Good Lion Hospitality, is behind The Good Lion and Shaker Mill, two equally appealing, buzzy downtown hot spots that also offer Orgeat Fizz and seasonal shrub mocktails. Cuban themed Shaker Mill keeps the tropical vibes flowing with their 0% ABV blended Pina Colada and a new line of uniquely flavored house made sodas.
Contemporary Mexican eatery Santo Mezcal makes mocktails that pair well with their vibrant cuisine served from breakfast through dinner. The Raspberry Limeade features raspberry gomme syrup, lime, and soda, while the Palomita is a refreshing blend of grapefruit juice, honey-lavender syrup, and Jarritos grapefruit soda. There’s also a non-alcoholic Bitburger cerveza.
A uniquely Santa Barbaran restaurant with a Californio twist, La Paloma Café pours a seasonal limeade infused with locally sourced ingredients such as strawberries and basil—and the house made oat milk horchata is decadently tasty, too. Sister restaurant to La Paloma, dinner-only The Lark is a pillar of the Funk Zone’s culinary scene. The Lark concocts seasonal shrubs in flavors such as blackberry-lemongrass mixed with fresh lemon and ginger beer and lemon-mint with soda water. Nearby, the Djinn Library Cocktail Bar in the Hotel Californian offers non-imbibers the range of Solvang-made Broken Clock Vinegar Works shrubs as well as a Ginger Genie mocktail with house made ginger beer and fresh lime.
Milk & Honey is a cozy downtown spot for tapas. The sharable plates pair well with the fruit-forward Orange You Glad It’s Not Just Soda featuring orange juice, coconut, lime, vanilla, and soda water. The Fauxito is another solid virgin option. Go for the classic mojito base of lime, cane sugar, mint, and soda, or enhance it with your choice of coconut or passion fruit. If you find yourself at The Leta Restaurant in Goleta, they’ve got you covered with the Sparkling Lavender Lemonade using their house-made lavender syrup. Down on Santa Barbara’s waterfront, Convivo at the Santa Barbara Inn features a Pineapple Press with lime, Sprite, and soda water.
When it comes to zero-proof souvenirs, Municipal Winemakers recently introduced a new line of alcohol-free wine-like beverages made with premium local grapes and infused with natural aromatics and botanicals. Pick up a bottle (or case) of January Zero Percent Manzanilla Chardonnay (please note that the current vintage is sold out) or Juniper Grenache, which winemaker Dave Potter describes as “a chillable, crunchy red made from Santa Ynez Valley Grenache, juniper berries, bay laurel leaves, black tea, sumac, angelica root, smoked sea salt, and black peppercorns.” You can buy the wine at Municipal in the Funk Zone or sister winery Potek’s Haley Street tasting room and bottle shop.
You’ll find an assortment of locally produced Sideyard Shrubs at several shops, such as Folly Home in Arlington Plaza, Satellite SB’s bottle shop, Jake & Jones boutique, Handlebar Coffee Roasters, Helena Avenue Bakery, and Idyll Mercantile. These artisanal fruit vinegars look great on the shelf and are perfect for making mocktails at home—pour bubbly water, soda, or tonic over a shot of shrub in flavors like pomegranate, passionfruit, and prickly pear. Add a squeeze of lime for extra zest, and you’ve got a health tonic in your hand!
Pacific Pickle Works is a Santa Barbara-headquartered company that creates gourmet level Bloody Mary mixers and kits, in addition to a wide range of pickled veggies. Spice up your weekend brunch game at home with virgin Bloody Mary’s using their special seasoned elixir—everything down to the Worcestershire is made from scratch. Add the tomato juice of your choice, a squeeze of fresh lemon and lime, and garnish with their picked asparagus, dilly beans, and/or carrots. Their goods are available all over, including the Santa Barbara Airport, local grocery stores, Santa Barbara Winery, Seaside Makers, and the Santa Barbara Company.