Weekend Drink (And Hold the Alcohol): Zero-Proof Cocktails at the Grand Hyatt

Yuzu-Raspberry Thyme Sparkling Lemonade is this weekend’s drink. It’s a sweet/tart mash-up that’s tasty and alcohol-free, but first an explainer.

Not so long ago an intriguing zero-proof drink was as likely to be served at a hotel bar as a hot fudge sundae. We know. We drank a lot of Shirley Temples when we were pregnant.

But increasingly alcohol-free drinks have leapt past snoozey staples like ginger ale and club soda with lime and muscled onto the cocktail menu brandishing A-list ingredients, stylish glassware and, no surprise, champagne prices (hold the champagne).

Not everyone wants to drink alcohol at a bar or with a meal, especially lunch, says Joe Jackson, corporate director food and beverage at Hyatt. “We try to have at least three zero-proof drinks each season.”
For bartenders, non-alcoholic drinks are a departure – and a challenge. Instead of a complex, mega-proof leading player like gin, vodka, tequilia or scotch, proof-free drinks are built around the fruit, herbs, cream and sparkling water that bartenders view as members of the chorus. 

Those ingredients can command a starring role when they’re natural and fresh instead of out of a can. It’s no coincidence that the popularity of the zero-proof cocktail tracks the rise of the all-natural hand-crafted cocktail.

The Yuzu-Raspberry Thyme Sparkling Lemonade, this season’s showstopper at the Grand Hyatt‘s Grand Central bar, comes with mega cred – organic raspberries, local thyme, organic cane sugar and organic yuzu juice.  At $8 it’s cheaper than a full-throttle cocktail but goes down a lot faster, especially on a hot day. It’s easy to polish off two.

Or you can hunt down some fresh yuzu juice and whip up a batch at home. The recipe serves 8.

2 cups yuzu juice

2 cups organic cane sugar

2 tablespoons of thyme sprigs

1 pint raspberries

2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice

Sparkling Natura water

1)   Combine sugar, yuzu juice, lemon juice and thyme in a saucepan.

2)   Bring to a boil and remove from heat.

3)   Let steep for one hour, strain and cool.

4)   Muddle raspberries in a glass.

5)   Mix 1 part above syrup and 3 parts sparkling Natura water.

6)   Garnish with a lemon wheel.




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