The Best of CaliGirl Cooking: Top 15 Cocktails and Mocktails

TGIF!

Caribou | CaliGirlCooking.com

Boy, what a week it has been. We’re still seeking refuge from the SoCal smoke up north, at least for a few more days, and I’m writing this at the eleventh hour so I’m going to keep things short, but I couldn’t let you kick off the second to last weekend before Christmas without the promised roundup of CGC’s Top 15 Cocktails and Mocktails!

So, without further ado….

A Festive Cranberry Clementine Martini is the perfect easy cocktail to whip up all through the month of December!

1. FESTIVE CRANBERRY CLEMENTINE MARTINI
2. CARIBOU
3. WINTER SPICED VANILLA EGGNOG

Cranberry Ginger Mule | CaliGirlCooking.com

4. CRANBERRY GINGER MULE
5. SPARKLING CITRUS VANILLA PUNCH
6. SPARKLING POMEGRANATE PARTY PUNCH

Sparkling Pomegranate Party Punch | CaliGirlCooking.com

7. ALMOND MILK EGGNOG HOT CHOCOLATE
8. PEAR, POMEGRANATE AND BOURBON PUNCH
9. SPIKED PEAR CIDER

A mug of Spiked Pear Cider is the perfect hot toddy for the holidays.

10. APPLE CINNAMON “FAUX-MOSA”
11. BOILO (A TWIST ON THE HOT TODDY)
12. FROM-SCRATCH SLOW COOKER SPICED APPLE CIDER
13. WARMING GINGER TEA WHISKEY COCKTAIL
14. BOOZY SPICED HOT APPLE CIDER

Citrus Vanilla Sparkler | CaliGirlCooking.com

15. CITRUS VANILLA SPARKLER

Okay, now it’s your turn. What are some of your favorite holiday cocktails and mocktails! Leave ’em in the comments below!

Apple Cinnamon “Faux-mosa”

Because when one can’t enjoy a mimosa, you might as well enjoy a fall-themed “faux-mosa!”

These Apple Cinnamon "Faux-mosas" are the perfect mocktail for fall.

Yes, I’m counting down the days until I can consume the real deal again, but until then I’ll have to say I’ve been pretty darn good at coming up with tasty alternatives – like this Apple Cinnamon “Faux-mosa!”

It may be because this season is always met with so much anticipation, but it seems like every year once September or October rolls around I get the urge to make some sort of fall-themed mimosa. In fact, this exact same week last year I made this delicious Harvest Mimosa featuring pear, apple AND brandy, and you can bet it’s one of the first things on my list to make once Baby D arrives in just a few short weeks!

So here’s the deal with this Apple Cinnamon “Faux-mosa”: My primary complaint about most virgin mimosa recipes is they either taste (a) too sweet from an overload of juices (both sparkling and still) or (b) the sweetness problem is overcompensated by using club soda to add bubbles, but then the drink tastes incredibly watered down.

Well, I’m proud to say this Apple Cinnamon “Faux-mosa” solves both those problems!

An Apple Cinnamon "Faux-mosa" with tons of flavor - and perfectly acceptable for breakfast!

It took a bit of trial and error, but I tasted through a couple of brands of sparkling apple cider and found one that isn’t too sweet. I’m sorry to say that I didn’t write down the brand and discarded the bottle, but I highly suggest you make your own decision on this anyhow as the perfect “faux-mosa” is largely a matter of personal taste anyway.

You’ll also be adding some still apple cider on top of the sparkling apple juice, which tends to be a bit more concentrated. Plus, if you get your hands on a high-quality brand such as Trader Joe’s Honeycrisp Apple Cider, you’ll get tons more flavor in every sip.

Finally, an Apple Cinnamon “Faux-mosa” just wouldn’t be a “faux-mosa” without a hint of orange juice. I mean, we need to make this drink acceptable for breakfast, don’t we?

Looking for a festive fall-themed nonalcoholic drink? These Apple Cinnamon "Faux-mosas" are the answer!

I don’t know what your plans are for this weekend, but we have some big ones (shhhh….it’s a surprise – I’ll fill you all in on Monday!) so some Apple Cinnamon “Faux-mosas” are definitely in my very near future.

Cheers to a relaxing weekend that I hope is filled with all the fall-themed things!

Apple Cinnamon "Faux-mosa"
Prep Time
5 mins
 

This virgin take on the mimosa features tons of apple-cinnamon flavor - perfect for kids, drinkers and non-drinkers alike!

Servings: 1 drink
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 4 ounces sparkling apple cider
  • 2 ounces apple cider
  • 1/2 ounce fresh orange juice
  • Dash of ground cinnamon
  • Apple slice, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Pour both apple ciders and orange juice into a champagne flute. Top with a dash of cinnamon and garnish with an apple slice.

Virgin Raspberry Mojitos

Who’s ready for a drink??

Virgin Raspberry Mojitos are a quick and easy, refreshing way to kick off the weekend.

Meeeee!! Oh my goodness, yes please. This has been a long week and I am so ready to kick my feet up and relax (well, as much as possible with all the fam in town) with a Virgin Raspberry Mojito in hand for the next couple of days.

Not only has it been a crazy one workwise this week with me trying to get things prepped and ready for maternity leave, but our precious little fur baby was fixed on Tuesday so we’ve been playing nurse to her and trying to keep her as calm as possible the past few days. Not an easy feat with a 6-month-old golden retriever!

On top of all that excitement, my parents came into town yesterday and my hubs’ parents get here today, so we’ve been hustling trying to get our house (and lives) organized to host them all and be able to spend some quality time with them.

But enough about me, let’s talk about these Virgin Raspberry Mojitos that have become one of my absolute favorite non-alcoholic beverages to enjoy both at home (thanks to this super-easy recipe) and as a special treat at restaurants whenever we go out to eat.

A Virgin Raspberry Mojito is the perfect mocktail - not too sweet and very refreshing!

I love virgin mojitos because they are refreshing and tasty without being overly sweet. I’ve mentioned it before and I’ll mention it again, I’ve noticed I’ve been extremely sensitive to sugary drinks during this pregnancy, so I would much rather enjoy something like a mojito – with that hit of fresh mint and some acidity from fresh lime juice – than some fruity, blended concoction that’s sure to leave me with a headache minutes later.

For these Virgin Raspberry Mojitos, the only added sugar I used was a little bit of simple syrup to just give a slight balance to the fresh, tart muddled raspberries and sour lime juice. Other than that, you’ll just need some fresh mint and soda water. That’s it!

You’ll muddle the fresh raspberries in a cocktail shaker with the mint, simple syrup and lime juice, shake it up real good, dump it into a glass and top with the club soda. Ready in a flash.

These Virgin Raspberry Mojitos taste as good as they look!

This drink is really unbelievably tasty for how easy it is, so if I were you I’d whip it up just in time to celebrate the weekend. And if you feel like jazzing things up with a little booze, I wouldn’t be one bit upset if you decided to throw in some of the classic white rum.

So what are YOUR plans for the weekend? Does it feel like fall yet where you are or are you in the middle of a late-September heat wave like we are here in Southern California? No matter what the weather’s like, I hope you make time to whip up a Virgin Raspberry Mojito or two!

A Virgin Raspberry Mojito ready to be enjoyed.

Virgin Raspberry Mojitos
Prep Time
5 mins
 

These tasty mocktails strike the perfect balance between sweet, sour and refreshing with loads of fresh raspberries and mint. Add rum to make it boozy!

Course: Drinks
Servings: 2 cocktails
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup fresh raspberries
  • 14 fresh mint leaves, plus additional sprigs for garnish
  • 2 ounces simple syrup
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • Club soda, to top
Instructions
  1. Muddle the raspberries, mint leaves, simple syrup and lime juice in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Top with ice and shake vigorously for 20 seconds. 

  2. Divide shaker’s contents into two glasses, add more ice if necessary and top each with club soda.

  3. Garnish with fresh mint sprigs and enjoy!

Virgin Raspberry Mojitos | CaliGirlCooking.com

From-Scratch Slow Cooker Spiced Apple Cider

We’re not going to miss out on any of the fall foods this year!

From-Scratch Slow Cooker Spiced Apple Cider is the perfect drink to take us into fall!

With all of the excitement of pumpkin spice season, I feel like we often forget some of the other amazing produce that really shines this time of year. Yes, squash are plentiful, but let’s not forget about persimmons, pomegranates, Brussels sprouts and, of course APPLES!

Since I feel it’s just a tad too early for all the pumpkin (but don’t worry, it’s coming soon!) I wanted to take advantage of what I feel is a true September fruit and share this delish From-Scratch Slow Cooked Spiced Apple Cider today!

To be honest, I’d never ventured into the homemade apple cider realm before, but since I’m firmly on the wagon this September, I decided now was a better time than any to try my hand at a tasty non-alcoholic sipper. I love a good apple cider (and, let’s be real, I love it even more when I can spike it with some bourbon), but sometimes the store-bought stuff can get a bit too sweet for me.

A warm glass of From-Scratch Slow Cooker Spiced Apple Cider is all you need on a cool fall day.

In fact, ever since I’ve been pregnant, I’ve noticed I’m much more sensitive to overly sugary drinks. If I have more than one glass of juice or other sweetened beverage, I get a massive headache not unlike you’d get from an actual alcohol hangover. I guess that goes to show that my body doesn’t like too much of anything! Balance my friends, balance.

As I was browsing through homemade apple cider recipes online, I came across a bunch of variations and ultimately decided on a combination that I felt would be uniquely “me.” While I omitted any sort of added sugar (maple syrup, brown sugar, honey, etc.) that other recipes included, I also included what could be called the “secret ingredient” in my homemade boilo hot toddy I make every winter – caraway seeds! Of course, that would be in addition to the requisite cinnamon sticks and cloves. The result was so deliciously spiced and NOT overly sweet, I immediately fell in love!

So here’s the deal on this super-easy From-Scratch Slow Cooker Spiced Apple Cider:

I used Gala apples because I felt they have a good balance of sweetness and acidity, but you could really use any variety you prefer. If you like things more sour, go for the green apples. If you like things more mellow, go for the red ones, or try a combination of a few different varieties to get a truly unique flavor.

An orange is added for a little extra dimension, and of course the whole spices mentioned above – caraway seeds, cinnamon sticks and cloves. The chunks don’t matter because we’re straining it all out in the end anyhow.

As far as the process goes, our use of the slow cooker means things couldn’t be easier. We simply throw all of the ingredients in together with some high-quality H2O, set it and forget it. I cooked mine on low for 7 hours, but the other great thing about this recipe is it won’t really hurt to leave it in there a little bit longer. Basically, we can start the slow cooker before bed and wake up to delicious hot apple cider, or we can get everything organized in the morning and have a huge batch of apple cider ready to be spiked up a bit for an after-dinner drink 😉

From-Scratch Slow Cooker Spiced Apple Cider is garnished with fresh apple slices and whole cinnamon sticks.

And if you happen to like your cider a bit on the sweeter side, simply add some maple syrup or honey to taste after you strain all the solids out after the cooking process is done.

Bet you didn’t think a tasty batch of From-Scratch Slow Cooker Spiced Apple Cider was that easy to whip up, did you?

Delicious From-Scratch Slow Cooker Spiced Apple Cider ready to be consumed with or without bourbon.

Happy Friday, friends! I hope you have a great weekend! Xx

From-Scratch Slow Cooker Spiced Apple Cider
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
7 hrs
Total Time
7 hrs 5 mins
 

A not-too-sweet homemade version of a favorite fall drink, full of mouthwatering spices and fresh apple flavor and ready in just a few hours.

Course: Drinks
Servings: 6 servings
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 8-10 medium Gala apples, cored and sliced, plus more for garnish
  • 1 orange, cut into wedges
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
  • 3 whole cinnamon sticks, plus more for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves
  • 10 cups filtered water
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker. Cook on low for 7 hours.

  2. Strain solids from mixture using a sieve (or cheesecloth) and into a large pitcher. Add more sliced apples and cinnamon sticks. Serve warm (and add bourbon if you want to booze it up!)

From-Scratch Slow Cooker Spiced Apple Cider | CaliGirlCooking.com

Mixed Melon Cucumber Coolers

Our answer to the sweltering long weekend ahead right here.

These Mixed Melon Cucumber Coolers are incredibly refreshing and can be made into a cocktail or mocktail!

Hi! How are you all doing? Are you sweating it out in the heat like we are here in California or getting drenched by the record rains we’re having in other parts of the country? My thoughts are with all those affected by Hurricane Harvey and I pray that you find yourselves safe and dry very soon. I’m amazed by the outpouring of love and support I’ve seen for Texas coming in from all over the world, and it makes me happy to see that there can be such kindness and humanity in today’s otherwise crazy world.

Whether you’re doing your best to get in some sort of body of water (and out of the heat) or avoid any sort of water altogether because you’ve seen way too much of it this past week, these Mixed Melon Cucumber Coolers are for you. They’re refreshing and hydrating for those of us who need relief from the heat, and they’re healthy and uplifting for those of us who need a welcome respite from the rain and bad weather.

I talked the other week about how some of my OG flavor combinations (think your favorite Lip Smackers from when you were, like, eight) have been guiding recent mocktails I’ve created. First there was this Kiwi Coconut Cooler initially inspired by my one-time strawberry-kiwi obsession, and now we’re bringing back the cucumber-melon combo with these Mixed Melon Cucumber Coolers!

An overhead shot of super refreshing Mixed Melon Cucumber Coolers. Perfect for the end of summer!

I guess you could also say my recent mocktail creations have been guided by whatever fruits I can make fresh juice out of without a juicer, since at the moment we don’t have the luxury of enough space to fit a fancy juicer (or any other appliance, for that matter) in our tiny little kitchen. For that reason, easily puree-able fruits with minimal seeds have been my go-to in this time of non-alcoholic need 😛

To get started making these Mixed Melon Cucumber Coolers, you’ll first want to get a hold of some of the finest cantaloupe and seedless watermelon available. You won’t need the whole fruits to make the two servings this recipe yields, but I’m sure you’ll have no trouble finding a way to eat up any leftovers.

You’ll also want to track down some nice, crispy cucumbers. These add such a refreshing kick to the drink that if you close your eyes while you’re sipping you might just think you’re enjoying a relaxing spa day.

A Mixed Melon Cucumber Cooler is the perfect way to kick off a long, sunny weekend.

Simply toss these three ingredients together in a blender, along with a fresh squeeze of lime to give it some tang, and give it a nice whir to make your juice. It will turn out a little on the thicker side (like a purée), but have no fear because we’re going to top our mocktails off with a nice little splash of sparkling water. If you’re looking for even more flavor, you could even use a lightly flavored sparkling water such as La Croix or Spindrift. Creative license is yours!

And since we only add a touch of cucumber to the juice (compared to how much watermelon and cantaloupe we’re using) we add some fresh cucumber slices to our glasses to further enhance that spa-like flavor.

Mixed Melon Cucumber Coolers are hydrating and refreshing. Add some vodka or gin for an extra kick!

Oh, and I almost forgot. If you’re still on the booze train, add some gin or vodka to your Mixed Melon Cucumber Coolers to really knock it out of the park this weekend!

Mixed Melon Cucumber Coolers
Prep Time
10 mins
 

The perfect, refreshing warm weather mocktail - loads of fresh melon punctuated by a hint of cucumber. Add vodka or gin to make it boozy!

Course: Drinks
Servings: 2 drinks
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 2 cups cubed seedless watermelon
  • 1 1/2 cups cubed cantaloupe
  • 3 inch piece of cucumber, peeled and cut into chunks, plus extra slices for garnish
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
  • Club soda
Instructions
  1. Combine watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumber and lime juice in a blender and pulse until a thick juice forms. 

  2. Fill two glasses with ice and divide the juice evenly among the two glasses. 

  3. Top each glass with sparkling water and slide a few extra cucumber slices down the inside of the glass for added flavor. Enjoy!

Mixed Melon Cucumber Coolers | CaliGirlCooking.com