3 Bartenders Dominating the Booze-Free Drink Scene

“The drinking culture I grew up with was more tea and coffee,” says Julia Momose.

But for the star bartender behind GreenRiver in Chicago and now Oriole, her boozeless upbringing in Kyoto taught her something more essential.

“I learned early on to make sure there was something for everyone,” she says.

And that’s just the point of her new nonalcoholic drink menu at the Best New Chef winner Noah Sandoval’s restaurant. It brings an extra layer of hospitality—as well as some challenge. Without the backbone of alcohol, it can be tricky to toggle between simply making a juice and to make a drink that pulls together complex flavors. But not for Momose.

Take her blackberry-and-turmeric lemonade, a drink as equally stunning with its sunset-like layers as it is delicious. We’ve got the recipe, but keep an eye out for two more hoochless heroes to keep on your radar.

Brad Goocher at Le Farfalle

“There are so many incredible spirits today that taste delicious on their own, whereas soft cocktails are a blank canvas with nothing to hide behind,” says Goocher. Behind Le Farfalle’s bar in Charleston, the NoMad alum amps up the whimsy in his drinks, like pomelo-juice cream fizzes inspired by the Orange Julius and cucumber-mint lemonade molded after one of his favorite gin cocktails, The Old Maid.

Ann Marie Del Bello at Loring Place

In the words of the former ABC Kitchen bar manager, you “test, taste, tweak, test again, taste some more” until you’ve got the perfect nonalcoholic drink. She first started making booze-free cocktails for her mom and always loved seeing her eyes light up when she tried them. Del Bello’s process is a bit like developing a dish, which makes sense since she and Best New Chef alum Dan Kluger collaborate on the drinks at his long-awaited NYC restaurant, Loring Place, and they start with the ingredient first, like watermelon for a cucumber-infused margarita.  

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