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Central Standard

Don't Knock The Mocktail: Kansas City Bartenders Branch Out

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR
Christi Brunner, bartender at The Brick, pours the Springtime mocktail, her off-menu contribution for the season.

Sometimes, it’s just not the right time for an alcoholic drink.

As luck would have it, bartenders and bars across Kansas City are beginning to offer options for non-drinkers, from the Berry-tini at Eden Alley, to the Mango Tango at The Brick.

The mixology movement has picked up over the last few years, and as a result mocktails — cocktails without the booze — have become increasingly available, more popular and without a doubt, more tasty.

Credit Andrea Tudhope / KCUR
Brunner's Springtime mocktail, complete with an orange slice, mint leaves and retro red and white paper straws.

Many places around town boast a staff of knowledgeable bartenders at the ready to craft any beverage you could fathom, but it is hard to find an actual mocktail menu. The Brick, a restaurant, bar and live music venue located in Kansas City's Crossroads district, has one.

On the menu, you'll find a virgin Bloody Mary — called the Bloody Shame — and the simple, but ever-popular Ginger Snap, basically a non-alcoholic Moscow Mule with a twist ginger beer, lime juice and pear juice.


Credit Andrea Tudhope / KCUR
Owner Sheri Parr and her bartenders often bounce ideas off of one another to create something new with fresh ingredients, like this watermelon mocktail.

Off-menu, The Brick offers bartender Christi Brunner's creation, called Springtime, made from muddled cucumber, elderberry syrup, soda water and a hint of orange. With fresh ingredients like fruit purees, herbs and flowers, it's easy to craft a mocktail on the fly. 

Sheri Parr, owner of The Brick, said it is the fresh and slightly more complex ingredients that distinguish a mocktail from a simple juice or flavored soda.

"I think cucumber and mint, elderberry, violet, lavender … All of those are adult flavors," Parr said. "I think there's a layer of notes when you build a cocktail."

Here are a few mocktails that bartenders across the city have built and are proud to call their own:

  • Mock-YEAH!-ing-YEAH!-bird: ripe strawberries or raspberries, lemon juice, grapefruit juice, ginger juice, thyme syrup, sparkling water — Courtney Crockett, bartender at The Brick
  • Backyard Cooler: sprig of dill, watermelon juice, cucumber juice, lemon juice, spicy ginger syrup, sparkling water  Erik Mariscal, bartender at The Jacobson
  • Yogi: lemongrass tea (lemongrass, chamomile, rhubarb, bitter orange peel, lime zest), lemon juice, agave nectar, sparkling mineral water  Valdez Campos, bar manager at BLVD Tavern
  • Rosy Palms: housemade grapefruit and rose shrub (grapefruit peel, rose petals, sugar, apple cider vinegar), soda water — Margot Thompson, bar manager at The Farmhouse
  • Powell and Friends (named after George E. Powell of Powell Gardens): watermelon, peppermint leaves, lemon juice, lime juice, vanilla bean simple syrup, sparkling water  Brandon Cummins, managing partner of Liquid Minded Concepts
  • Summer Cooler: housemade strawberry basil soda, celery bitters, lime juice, grapefruit juice, soda water  Jenn Tosatto, bartender at The Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange
  • Ginger Refresher: Kansas City Canning Co. blood orange and ginger shrub, grapefruit juice, earl grey tea syrup, lemon juice, ginger beer  Justin Richardson, head bartender at Julep
Central Standard Food & DrinkCrossroads
Andrea Tudhope is an award-winning multimedia journalist based in Kansas City, Missouri. She is currently coordinating producer for America Amplified, a national public media community engagement initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. 
Sylvia Maria Gross is storytelling editor at KCUR 89.3. Reach her on Twitter @pubradiosly.