This pretty little recipe book is meant for two main audiences: those who don't like the taste of alcohol (some of us are quite sensitive to it), and those who can't drink it (for example, those whose religions forbid it). This way, those who find themselves longing for the intricate and interesting taste experiences that alcohol drinkers can enjoy can get in on the fun. Some of the recipes are meant to duplicate the flavors of existing drinks or alcohols for people who can't drink alcohol but enjoy it, while other recipes are simply meant to be delicious drinks in their own right rather than knock-offs of existing cocktails. Some drinks come with suggestions for substituting in alcohol for those who want to make two drink versions for their drinking and non-drinking guests. For those people who can't touch a drop of alcohol, there are great tips to help you watch out for "hidden" alcohol content in some ingredients you might otherwise think to use.
When I think of "cocktails" I tend to think of things like margaritas and martinis, but Liz Scott has taken a much wider view on the term! She has divided her book into five types of drinks: elixirs and aperitifs, martinis and party cocktails, mealtime libations, dessert drinks, and nightcaps. She includes a foreword on ingredients and equipment that's quite thorough, even addressing things like the fact that "alcohol-free" wine and beer can legally contain up to 0.5% of alcohol--an important detail for those for whom alcohol is a matter of prohibition, not taste. Many of the recipes come with gorgeous photographs that will certainly whet your appetite!
Elixirs and aperitifs are meant as before-dinner drinks, and were originally created as medicinal beverages. Many of them include herbal ingredients, and the recipes in this chapter are surprising and diverse. Even though I don't like the taste of alcohol and thus knew the serious mock-alcohols wouldn't be my favorite drinks, I could tell by the taste of the one we made (a mock sherry) that it was good, just not my thing.
The "mocktails" in the martini & party cocktails chapter are imaginative and fun! Whether you prefer mojitos, margaritas, or coladas, in orange, mango, lime, or pineapple, you'll find something in here to whet your appetite. There's a variation on a champagne cocktail in here that's just divine.
Mealtime libations are designed, much the way wine is chosen, to complement certain foods or meals. Want some non-alcoholic mimosas to go with brunch? You've got `em! A white tea infusion makes an alternative to white wine, and a dry grape grigio is designed to pair with poultry. The strawberry white sangria is so good I could make that recipe alone over and over. If you'd normally serve a Zinfandel, try the pomegranate-based "pom zinfandel."
Of course plenty of the drinks in the preceding chapters would make fine desserts, but Zero-Proof Cocktails goes one better with an entire chapter of specific dessert drinks. How about hopscotch eggnog (it uses butterscotch syrup in place of schnapps), or a toasted almond cordial?
Since nightcaps are meant to help one sleep or aid in post-dinner digestion, you'll find both mock versions of traditional nightcaps (such as spiced apple brandywine, which of course doesn't have any real wine in it) and a few originals. The almond roca buona notte is simple and heavenly, much like a cup of warm milk. There's a sweet ginger tummy tea, and even a catnip tisane!
The only difficulty is that the recipes do call for many unusual ingredients. There is, however, a listing of resource websites in the back of the book that will definitely help. I found blood orange bitters at Williams-Sonoma, and sparkling grape juice in the Kosher aisle at the grocery store. Our local Whole Foods Market had the no-sugar-added white grape juice. Other recipes call for exotic fresh fruits or juices, flavor syrups, or teas, but as long as you're willing to order a few ingredients online you should be fine.