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Zero-Proof Cocktails

By Duncan Chase

Like any experienced bartender, I have been asked to make non-alcoholic drinks for a number of reasons over the years. A regular cocktail-lover might be pregnant or taking medication. A non-drinking friend may still enjoy spending time at the bar. There are many reasons not to imbibe and, until recently, few options. I became impassioned to improve the bar selections in this category when I was asked to make a zero proof Lemon Drop. Here's the story!

An older gentleman came to the bar earlier in the evening to check on martini options. When he arrived for dinner with his wife, I delivered his martini and we discussed cocktails for a moment. Due to medication, his wife had to stop drinking years before. She missed the experience of sharing a cocktail with her husband, so I made her an alcohol-free version of a Lemon Drop. She was so happy, she almost wept; the joy of sharing that cocktail with her spouse was tangible. I doubt the taste was as important as sharing a tradition with her husband again with what appeared to be a colorful, spirited cocktail.

Since that night, Copperleaf Restaurant created a Zero Proof cocktail menu. Now it features twelve different cocktails using products from Pathfinder, Giffard, Wilderton, and Seedlip. We make these non-alcoholic drinks just like the classic cocktails; however, these have their own unique character.

The Nogroni is a combination of The Pathfinder from Portland, Oregon (hemp-based, distilled spirit with wormwood, angelica root, ginger, sage, juniper, saffron, orange peel, and Douglas fir), and Giffard's Aperitif from France (natural fruit flavors is all they will tell us.) The result is not quite an imitation, but flavors that are similar, such that a negroni fan could enjoy.

The Cosnopoliton features Seedlip Grove from London, England (natural botanical distillates and extracts), with lime and cranberry, like a traditional Cosmopolitan. Once again, it is similar in flavor to the original but unique-tasting. Seedlip offers three products: Grove is citrus, Garden is herbal, and Spice is aromatic. Seedlip was one of the first non-alcoholic distillates to hit the market.

Wilderton Botanical Distillates, also from Portland, Oregon, bring their tea-based products into the mix. Lustre features bergamot, bitter orange, lemongrass, bay leaf, linden, lavender, orris, tarragon, and black tea; while Earthen is a blend of benzoin, cardamon, frankincense, cubeb, pimenton, rose, lapsing, and souchong tea. We use Earthen in our Zero Proof take on the Bloody Mary (photo), called Earthen Mary. Lustre makes a great dupe for a Hot Toddy - we call it the Not Toddy.

Here at Copperleaf, we continue to experiment with different zero proof companies in our ongoing journey to find the best-tasting options. With these brands, we are not trying to imitate any specific spirit - like whiskey, rum, gin, or tequila. Frankly, we have found that those types of products do not really work. Instead, these present a new and exciting category of flavors, and we look forward to creating more innovative cocktails and pairings.

We are proud to have offered monthly Whiskey and Spirit Classes for our guests and patrons at Cedarbrook over the past year and I'm truly looking forward to the time when we will have enough products to offer a Zero Proof Spirit Class.

The Zero Proof menu has received a tremendously positive response. I have seen the attitude of an entire table improve by presenting the menu. One tee-totaling guest may have said it best: "Don't people realize that we have money, too!"

Photos courtesy of Copperleaf Restaurant

May 2022

 Duncan Chase has been bartending in the Seattle area for over 25 years. In addition to creating cocktail menus for restaurants, Duncan began offering cocktail classes for auction at charities in the early 2000s. His classes were exceptionally well received, and he expanded his teaching, offering classes for the public at Seattle Art Museum's restaurant, TASTE. Over the past 10 years, he has taught monthly whisk(e)y classes at Scotch & Vine, and led events in whisk(e)y and other spirits at restaurants and other venues. Cocktail creation has been a part of every position, particularly at TASTE where cocktails were created for exhibits, film series, and individual artists. Duncan was named one of the 20 United States finalists for the first Diageo World Class with U.S. participation. Duncan is currently working at Copperleaf at Cedarbrook Lodge in SeaTac, where seasonally-inspired Northwest cuisine is offered and driven by sustainable practices.

Copperleaf Restaurant & Bar
Cedarbrook Lodge & Spa
18525 36th Avenue South
Seattle, WA 98188

Reservations: 877.515.2176
Guest Services: 206.901.9268

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