Edge of Grapeness: Alcohol-Free Grape Anise Cooler

Light and refreshing, this alcohol-free Grape Anise Cooler has a distinctive mojito vibe without the need for any added sugar: the natural sweetness of the fresh grape juice is all that is required.  

Bringing some sophistication to this summertime sipper, the star anise imparts a subtle anise flavor and warm spiced undertones to pleasantly contrast the lively character of the grapes, lime and mint.  

Playful and delicious, this cooler isn’t one to be taken too seriously – just simply enjoyed.

Serves 1
Preparation time: 15 mins

Ingredients

  • 120g red seedless grapes, destemmed *
  • ½ oz. (15 ml) freshly squeezed lime juice (approx. ½ lime)
  • ½ star anise
  • 8 mint leaves
  • 4 oz. (120 ml) soda water or sparkling water

To garnish:

  • Sprig of mint
  • 2 grapes 

* 120g of grapes yields approximately 2 ½ oz (70-75 ml) of grape juice

Equipment

  • Immersion hand blender
  • Fine-mesh sieve
  • Bowl
  • Jigger or measuring spoons
  • Citrus juicer
  • Muddler
  • Shaker
  • Cocktail spoon
  • Highball glass

Instructions

  1. First, make the grape juice.
  2. Use an immersion blender to liquidize the grapes.
  3. Using the back of a spoon, press the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve to remove the skin and pulp.  Set aside.
  4. Next, assemble the mocktail.
  5. In a cocktail shaker, muddle the star anise, mint, and lime juice.
  6. Add the grape juice and a handful of ice.
  7. Shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds until the outside of the shaker is extremely cold.
  8. Strain into a highball glass, fill with ice, and top with soda water.
  9. Garnish with two grapes pierced on a cocktail stick, and a sprig of mint.

Bartenders Tip:  For a layered color effect, carefully pour the soda water over the grape mixture and do not stir before serving.

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Alcohol-Free Grape Anise Cooler FAQ

Can I use different grapes for this recipe?
In this recipe, I used regular supermarket red seedless grapes.  However, you could experiment with different grape varieties to extract unique flavors and characteristics. Try to avoid seeded grapes because they can add a sour flavor to the juice when blended.

If you’d like to impart some color into your cooler, you’ll want to opt for red grapes to extract the red pigment from their skins.  It’s also important to remember that some grapes are sweeter than others which may alter the final taste of the mocktail.  

Can I substitute fresh grapes with grape juice from the store?
Yes, you can use store-bought grape juice instead of fresh grapes.  The taste and texture may differ from using fresh grapes, but it will save you some preparation time making the juice yourself.  

Can I adjust the sweetness of the mocktail?
Yes.  If the mocktail is not sweet enough, you can add a sweetener of your choice (simple syrup, agave nectar, honey, etc.) to taste.  If you feel the mocktail is too sweet, you can add some more lime juice to help balance the drink.  

Can I make a larger batch of the grape anise cooler?
You can easily scale up the recipe to make a larger batch of the Grape Anise Cooler.  Simply multiply the ingredients by the number of servings that you’d like to make.  To cater for a crowd, you can muddle the ingredients and serve the mocktail from a punch bowl or pitcher.  Try to avoid serving the larger pieces of star anise when pouring the drink.  Serve in glasses filled with ice and garnished with a few mint leaves and grapes.

Can I make the grape anise cooler in advance?
It’s best to assemble the mocktail right before you want to serve it.  However, you can prepare the grape juice in advance and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.  Having the grape juice already made will cut down on the mocktail assembly time considerably.

Can I use a different herb instead of mint?
Yes, you can experiment with other herbs other than mint – like basil, rosemary, or thyme – for a different flavor profile.

Can I substitute the star anise for another spice?
If you don’t have star anise or don’t like its licorice flavor, you can substitute it with another spice.  Allspice has a complex flavor profile with notes of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves which will add a similar depth and warmth as star anise.  Alternatively, a pinch of ground cinnamon would also complement the grape too. 

Did you make this?  Tag me @mightymocktail or use the hashtag #mightymocktail!

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