The days of an obligatory mocktail tacked onto a drinks menu are long gone. With the quality of non-alcoholic beers and booze-free bars higher than ever, alcohol-free cocktails are having a moment.

“We don’t call them mocktails anymore,” says Alessandro Nardini, venue manager and bartender at Fable in Melbourne’s CBD. “We try to call them alcohol-free cocktails, which makes people understand we put in as much effort as we would put into a cocktail.”

The rise is indicative of a broader trend towards more inclusive and health-focused drinking habits – something Nardini feels strongly about. “I became a coeliac a few years ago and still struggle with gut health,” he says. “Gluten, dairy – those things make me very sick. So I have to be very conscious about my diet most of the time. That’s something I’ve been incorporating at Fable since we opened.”

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Nardini has pushed the idea further with a non-alcoholic, spritz-style cocktail called the P3 #Hit and Sunk. It’s built from a few health-conscious ingredients, including a postbiotic tonic called P3 Gut Builder and vegan honey called Voney, from Australian health and wellness brand Meluka.

“It’s nice, very heavy on the nose and has a big flavour profile,” says Nardini of the honey.

Usually, cocktails layer flavours on top of an alcoholic spirit like gin or whisky. Here, Nardini subs in a flavoured shrub (a concentrated syrup often used in cocktails) to replace the alcohol. It can be made ahead of time and will keep for months if stored in a jar in the fridge.

“A shrub is a very sustainable ingredient,” says Nardini. “It’s using veggies or fruit after the season when these products are fresh. If you’ve got leftovers, you don’t want to chuck it away. Put it with vinegar and sugar [to] keep it fresh for a long time.”

To make the shrub, Nardini blends apple cider vinegar with Voney and grapefruit.

“Peel the grapefruit, take half of the peels and add it to a blender – the skins have a bit more of the essential oils and bitterness coming through,” says Nardini. “Then add part of the grapefruit into the blender. Add roughly 100 grams of the Voney, one part of the apple cider vinegar and blitz it.”

Let the shrub rest in the fridge for a few days before straining out the solids. Once its ready, Nardini opts to build and serve everything in a sling glass (V-shaped glasses named after the Singapore Sling) but you can use any tall glass.

“It has a spritzy vibe,” says Nardini of the result. “It’s got a nice zest of acidity from the vinegar and grapefruit coming through, and then the Voney and finger-lime honey bring out the sweeter part and all the aromas.”

Recipe: Alessandro Nardini’s P3 #Hit and Sunk
Serves 1
Preparation time: 2-3 days in advance
Mixing time: 1 minute

Ingredients:
30ml grapefruit shrub (preparation instructions below)
200g grapefruit
20g grapefruit peel
100g Voney
80ml apple cider vinegar
15ml P3 Gut Builder

1 bar spoon finger lime infused raw honey
60ml soda water
Crushed ice

Method:

To prepare the grapefruit shrub
Peel half a fresh grapefruit and add peels into a blender. Remove whites from the fruit and add the grapefruit, Voney and apple cider vinegar into the blender. Blend until the mixture is homogenous.

Pour liquid into a sterilised bottle, cap it and let it rest in the fridge. After 2-3 days, strain the mixture into a fresh container, eliminating all solid particles.

To prepare the cocktail
In a tall, chilled cocktail glass, combine grapefruit shrub, P3 Gut Builder, finger lime infused raw honey (substitute with Voney for a vegan cocktail option).

Stir thoroughly, then add soda water and top with crushed ice. Garnish using grapefruit, blood orange and edible flora garnish. Also available from the P3 Summer Spritz Kit. Serve.

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Meluka. Broadsheet readers use code “BROADSHEET20” for a 20% discount on the Meluka Australia product range.