IMBIBE: Low Proof Drinks

We’re doing this. Really. In a beer issue no less. Attention, imbibers, a trend alert: Low proof and non-alcohol drinks are, in fact, a thing to discover, try, sip and share. It turns out not every beverage we order has to be high octane. And the proof, pun intended, shows up at some of the best bars in our area.

Let’s jump into the deep end first: No alcohol beyond this point. Gone are the days when your only nonalcoholic option is a ruby red Shirley Temple. Not that there’s anything wrong with that highball of nostalgic grenadine, but options for interesting beverages sans-alcohol are numerous and growing.

For example, Persimmon’s menu hosts a section — “Neutral Cocktails” — with drinks made full of depth and flavor to complement your meal. Kevin O’Connor, general manager and all around cocktail badass, thinks “using terms like mocktail/non-alcoholic/etc on a menu automatically triggers the stigma of being boring or childish.” Boring or childish will be the last thing you think when you savor one of his creations.


It truly is possible to go dry without being thirsty. Any good cocktail bar with a knowledgeable person behind the bar should be able to make a decent non-alcoholic or low-proof drink without batting an eye or giving you grief. (Pssst … you’d be surprised how many of your drink experts are on the wagon for a little or a long while themselves.)

If you happen to be in Newport and in need of refreshment, head to Perro Salado. Yes, salivate over their agave offerings and fresh margaritas. Put those on your “next time” list. This time, try one of their Refresco offerings. “We do all of our margaritas as mocktails, so a cucumber fresca is delicious,” shares Geralyn Rodrigues, agave expert and manager of the Perro Salado house and bar program.

Onto this notion of a low-proof cocktail — sometimes you just want a little. Maybe because you’ll be drinking a lot, maybe because you know you’ve got that meeting tomorrow and you want to hang but you know you can’t haaaaaang without suffering the next day. I get it. Like session beers, it’s possible to have a sessionable cocktail. And I, myself, writer with a hollow leg, have had moments asking for a low-proof options. We all need to take it easy on occasion, kids.

If you’re more of an at-home bartender, try making a reverse Manhattan for a lower proof option. That’s when you switch your ratio of rye and vermouth — more vermouth, less rye, but still a lot of the flavors you’re wanting. I’m a fan of highballs and sometimes I just add a touch of something to my club soda. Hence, the following recipe for your low-alcohol drinking pleasure.

What: Laura’s at Home Lower-Proof Elixir

Found Where: Whenever Laura has an article due, wants a beverage, but needs to be an adult

Go Get:

.75 oz Luxardo maraschino liqueur

.5 oz Fresh lime juice

5 oz Club soda

1 Luxardo maraschino cherry


Take the liqueur and lime juice and shake. Pour into a highball filled with ice. Top with club soda and stir. Add the cherry on top. Siiiiippp. (And finish writing your Motif article.)