I won’t say again because they aren’t that great to begin with…

Let me preface this by saying that this isn’t a rant. Okay, maybe it is, but it’s a well-meaning rant with a purpose and true, burning passion for the cause in question – mocktails. As someone who doesn’t consume alcohol, I’m always that one person standing on the side with a can (or a glass, with ice, a lemon wedge and the whole shebang, if they’re feeling extra unimaginative) of soda at most F&B establishments in this city.

Now, some would argue that I could just pick one of the mocktail mixes from the token list of non-alcoholic beverages that every menu has, because that is true. But they’d be missing the point by miles. The problem is not the availability. It’s only the availability. It’s giving options and absolutely nothing else. Yes, I can order this identical twin variation of the passion fruit-Sprite-sugar syrup concoction that you can spot on every drinks menu in every restaurant ever, but do I want to? No, because I like drinking nice things too.

The dilemma

Dubai’s dining scene is perhaps one of the most colourful, kaleidoscopic explosion of flavours, stories and cultures on the modern culinary map. We live in a food city of epic proportions, where you can find an authentic Italian pizza and dum biryani straight from the streets of Hyderabad next door to each other, and there is something so deliciously beautiful about that.

dubai food festival

While venues are doing a smashing job of catering to a melting pot of diners from every corner of the globe, the supposedly less exciting flip side of the sip-sip coin has gotten lost in the sauce of borderline alcoholism. Non-alcoholic beverages, or mocktails, as they like to call them, are a bit boring, uninventive and sometimes plain unpleasant – made with little creativity and even lesser second thought (if I see another alien Blue Lagoon Mojito, I might just riot).

The wonderful Ciara Jones of TVM@TheFridge, wait for it – an alcohol-free bar, once told me that at TVM, they didn’t like calling their drinks mocktails because they aren’t just sugary replacements for cocktails. You won’t find that perspective anywhere else besides here, and a handful of other spots, but such deep ponder is not even our ask. Just don’t serve me a whole glass of strawberry-flavoured sweet nothings – I have K-Dramas and delusions to provide me with those.

Big ups to…

Those who try. While the supply for a good non-boozy drink that won’t make you abandon your glass to transition into a room temperature pool of condensation (source: many a personal experience) is scarce, there are some spots that deserve a shoutout. Our mention from earlier, TVM@TheFridge, brought to you by The Virgin Mary (TVM) Collective, the world’s leading alcohol-free bar group, is maybe Dubai’s only avant-garde cocktail bar where botanicals and high-quality, 0 per cent volume ingredients come together to make something fresh, literally and figuratively.

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During my foodie escapades so far, a few restaurants that stuck with me for creative mixology are KATA, a contemporary Japanese spot that sits along the Dubai Mall Fountain promenade and prides itself on investing in the creation of their drinks, rather than having them be just boring mixes of fruit juice and soda. 3Fils, casual-dining-extraordinaire, also has a memorable list of drinks, the shikuwasa being my personal favourite.

In conclusion…

While just a drink doesn’t make or break a meal, our problem at hand might be some food (or drinks) for thought for our friends in the industry. There is potential-a-plenty, and retribution on the horizon for us non-boozy babes and brothers. There will come a day, when we’ll ask for the mocktail menu and the poor server won’t scrunch up their face in disappointment to inform us that their options aren’t even on a physical menu. Just Kevin in the back, emptying out the juice boxes.

Images: Socials/Supplied/Unsplash