Nonalcoholic cocktails are more popular than ever this Dry January. Check out this recipe for a booze-free buzz courtesy of Trattoria Stella for this month’s Last Call featured cocktail.
In recent years, the availability of nonalcoholic cocktails has skyrocketed. Apparently, the no-and low-alcohol sector grew more than 500 percent between 2015 and 2020. This time last year, Forbes reported that there were more than 70 nonalcoholic spirits brands coming out of the U.S. and the U.K. alone. From Tokyo to Toronto, zero-proof bars are setting up shop, and booze-free recipe books such as Julia Bainbridge’s “Good Drinks”—a 2020 title (Ten Speed) that’s already on its fourth printing—are flying off the shelves.

Related Read: Searching for more cocktails recipes, local restaurants and recommendations? View our Northern Michigan Food & Drink page.

January Last Call Cocktail

Photo by Dave Weidner

Here in Northern Michigan, we’ve seen due attention on this growing sector as well. My favorite wine shops now have a section dedicated to nonalcoholic (NA) wines, beers and spirits, and the region’s best bartenders are committing menu space to alcohol-free mocktails. For the team at Traverse City’s Trattoria Stella, the NA trend is nothing new—they have devoted a section of their bar menu to the category since they opened in 2004. “It allows people who are choosing to abstain to still participate in the ritual of having a cocktail,” says sommelier and partner Amanda Danielson.

Danielson’s team first served this tipple made of thyme-infused water and lime cordial some six or seven years ago, naming it for a former employee who used to sing the Mary Poppins rooftop classic at work. Make the restaurant’s lime cordial and thyme-steeped water at the beginning of the month, toss them in the fridge, and you too will step in time, and on trend, all month long.

January Last Call cocktail

Photo by Dave Weidner

Step in Thyme Alcohol-Free Cocktail Recipe

Serves 1

  • 2 ounces Thyme Water (view Trattoria Stella’s recipe for Thyme Water below)
  • 1 ounce Lime Cordial (view Trattoria Stella’s recipe for Lime Cordial below)
  • splash of tonic water
  • sprig of thyme
Directions | Add ice to a coupe glass to chill it. Fill a shaker with ice and add Thyme Water and Lime Cordial and shake until the mixture is cold. Discard the ice in the glass and strain the contents of the shaker into the glass. Top with a splash of tonic water and garnish with a thyme sprig.

Trattoria Stella’s Thyme Water Recipe

Makes 16 ounces

  • 10 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 cups boiling water

Trattoria Stella’s Lime Cordial Recipe

Makes 12 ounces

  • 2 cups plus 1-ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • about 20 lime peels from 5 limes
  • 1 cup sugar
Directions | Peel 5 limes and set peels aside. Cut limes in half and juice them. Juice additional limes until you have 2 cups plus 1 ounce of fresh-squeezed lime juice. Set 1 ounce of the lime juice aside and pour the remaining 2 cups of juice into a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until it’s reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Add sugar, stir until dissolved, then remove from the heat. Add the reserved peels and let the mixture steep for 20 minutes. Pour through a fine-mesh strainer, discarding the peels and any pulp. Stir in 1 ounce of reserved fresh lime juice, seal and store in the refrigerator.

Photo(s) by Dave Weidner