Mocktails for the holidays Spread good cheer to all guests with alcohol free juice- and tea-based drinks

A good party host continually circles the room, revs up conversations teetering on awkward silences and manages pesky behind-the-scenes operations. He or she has to uphold the no-guest-left-behind policy. Still, the most attentive host can easily leave guests feeling out of place when nonalcoholic beverages aren't provided.

Mocktail

"As the host or hostess, there's a good chance that there's going to be somebody there that doesn't want to drink for some reason," says Elizabeth Scott, professional chef and author of "Zero-proof Cocktails: Alcohol-free Beverages for Every Occasion," (Ten Speed Press, 2009) "Normally, what happens to those people is that they end up in the corner with their diet soda."

Scott has witnessed an increasing trend among food professionals to acknowledge health restrictions and varying preferences of consumers. "I think as a society, maybe we're becoming a little more health conscious," she says. Mocktails let party-attendees who are avoiding alcohol or just counting calories around the holidays know that you intend to put everyone in a festive mood. Consider these garnishes and low-octane ingredients as you stock up on holiday spirits this season.

Tea time

Both tea and wine have a substance called tannin, which causes puckering when tasted. "When you're looking to make a wine substitute starting with a tea is a great idea," Scott says. Peter Hewitt, owner of Concord, Mass.-based Tea Forté, created Tea Cocktail Infusions in three flavors for cocktails, but the company markets mocktail recipes, too. One of Tea Forté's bubbly drink ideas for the holidays is the Virgin Sunrise Mocktail made with a lavender citrus tea infuser and seltzer water. When the tea bag is dropped into the glass, flavor fills the glass in a purple cloud. "The purple flows out. It's just absolutely beautiful," Hewitt says.

Mocktail #2

Shampagne Cocktail

1 sugar cube

Splash of blood orange bitters

Sparkling white grape juice, preferably no-sugar-added, chilled

Orange twist, for garnish

Drop the sugar cube into a champagne flute and add a good splash of bitters to saturate the sugar cube. Slowly pour in the sparkling grape juice and serve garnished with the orange twist.

Twist and shout

Cocktail Infusions boast great garnishes, but a quick-and-easy addition may be a fruit skewer. "Fruit is always great ... it adds interest and color," Scott says. She also recommends garnishing drinks with their more unusual ingredients for an exotic twist. You can also use citrus fruit peels for decoration. Take a zester or a channel knife and peel around the outside of the fruit for a signature coil of color.

Oldies but goodies

Sparkling white grape juice and apple ciders are old favorites for alcohol substitutes mainly because of they're carbonated and flavorful. Scott suggests a Shampagne Cocktail made with sparkling white grape juice and blood orange bitters as a bubbly alcohol-alternative to ensure that all guests receive a celebratory drink.

In addition to creating an all-inclusive, festive mood at your holiday party, providing mocktails at your holiday party saves money on the bar tab and lowers the risk of inebriated guests. Light-alcohol mixes are recommended for Tea FortŽ's tea cocktails - "It's not about the alcohol," Hewitt says. "It's about the flavor."

Delectable flavors and eye-catching garnishes for mocktails and cocktails help everyone feel welcome, and Scott says it ultimately "makes the party more of a success." You'll fill non-drinkers with cheer when you take the time out to consider their taste buds around the holidays.

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