cocktails versus mocktails

Difference Between Cocktail and Mocktail & Why it’s Important

Those who have read our other blogs will know how little time we have for mocktails. The clue is in the name really. ‘Mock’-tail. In other words, an imitation of a cocktail. Inauthentic. An object of derision. Disappointment in a glass.

“But hang on a minute…aren’t you a brand that makes non-alcoholic spirits? Shouldn’t you be encouraging people to drink mocktails?”

Why yes, we are an alcohol-free brand. However, we don’t attempt to imitate and we would never urge anyone to replace their deliciously sophisticated cocktail with a mocktail. Taste, texture, and depth are incredibly important to us, which is why we strive to do the alcohol-free thing differently.

How? Let us explain by discussing some of the key differences between a mocktail and a cocktail and why we hope to inspire a new generation of drinkers to enjoy non-alcoholic versions of the latter.

Here we go!

The definition of mocktail

For us, the word mocktail invokes memories of thin, sugary and watery fruit juices that lack substance. It has negative connotations. Some mocktails can make us feel like we’ve been transported back in time to our primary school disco!

cocktails versus mocktails

But hey, it’s not all about us so let’s consult the dictionary to see what the official definition is…

According to the Oxford Languages Dictionary, mocktail is defined as:

Mocktail

/ˈmɒkteɪl/

Noun

A non-alcoholic drink consisting of a mixture of fruit juices or other soft drinks.

So there you have it, even the dictionary knows that mocktails are full of fruit juice, sweeteners, and artificial flavourings!

Nevertheless, if you’ve read our blog on Can a Spirit be Alcoholic? then you’ll know that language is often open to interpretation and that usage can evolve over time. But if you search for “mocktail recipes” on Google, you’ll probably come across quite a few modern articles that say stuff like “mocktails that won’t disappoint” or “mocktails that aren’t just juice”, which tends to suggest that many others share our view on this poor excuse for an “adult” drink.

The definition of cocktail

"Cocktail is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters."

This sentence appeared in The Balance and Columbian Repository of 1806 and is the first known published definition of a cocktail. Note how it says “spirit of any kind”. We also think that “stimulating” is a key word here, since a cocktail is often considered a sophisticated drink for adults. In other words, cocktails should excite us and invigorate the senses.

cocktails verus mocktails

Some of you might be quick to point out that many definitions of cocktail include the words “alcoholic spirits”. We’d argue that, with the growth of the sober-curious trend in recent years, the alcohol industry has undergone dramatic transformation and innovation has been at an all-time high. Some of the changes we have seen include the creation of alcohol-free spirits and many other NoLo beverages, such as low and no alcohol beer, crafted for the adult palate.

In the same way that you can call a non-alcoholic spirit a spirit, so you can also call an alcohol-free cocktail a cocktail. It’s about perception and usage.

Read our full debate on the use of the word “spirit” in the context of alcohol-free here.

Non-alcoholic cocktails

Does it really matter what we call our drinks? Surely a non-alcoholic cocktail and mocktail can both be used to describe the same thing?

At the end of the day, you can call your beverage what you like ;) we won’t try to stop you. But for many, the term non-alcoholic cocktail is more congruent with their idea of a sophisticated mixed drink appropriate for the adult palate.

The 16.7 thousand people that search Google for this phrase every month certainly seem to fall in with this notion.

What’s more, bartenders will always tell you that the secret to a good cocktail is balance. Why then, if mocktails really are supposed to be imitations of a cocktail, are mocktails so frequently unbalanced?

cocktails versus mocktails

No compromise

Whether you’re sober-curious, moderating your drinking, completely tee-total, or simply hoping to avoid that hangover, you shouldn’t have to compromise. You deserve a well-balanced drink that stimulates the senses. A beverage where taste, appearance, health, and functionality are all equally as important.

Non-alcoholic cocktails tick all of those boxes.

So, what is the difference between cocktail and mocktail?

The most talked-about difference between a cocktail and a mocktail is that the latter does not contain alcohol. However, arguably the most important difference is that mocktails are generally not designed to stimulate the adult palate, whereas cocktails most certainly are. Consequently, if you are looking for a complex-tasting mixed drink that offers real depth and balance, we recommend opting for a non-alcoholic cocktail instead.

Why not try one of these Swanky New Year’s Eve Cocktails (Alcoholic and NoLo)? We guarantee you won’t be disappointed!

swanky cocktail not a mocktail

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