A touch tart and seductively sweet, the Candied Almond Lemon Drop is a spirit free cocktail full of simple but sophisticated flavors.
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Candied Almond Lemon Drop
I don’t have to explain why non-alcoholic cocktails are an important thing to keep in mind when entertaining. Whatever their reason, our sober friends and family deserve a beverage option that’s just as refined, creative, and delicious as anything with an ABV. This sophisticated zero proof cocktail is multi-layered, with sweet, tart, and buttery almond flavors. It’s perfect for sipping as the weather gets warmer or for any night you just want to feel a little special.
With no harsh alcohol to rely on for flavor, well-made quality ingredients are essential to elevating a zero proof cocktail. Luckily, the market is full of amazing companies putting out syrups, shrubs, and bitters that rival the homemade ingredients of the best bespoke bartender. This cocktail uses two of my staples, and despite sounding very particular I’ve found both syrups to be highly versatile if you don’t mind thinking outside the box.
Orgeat Syrup: Made from blanched almonds and rosewater, orgeat syrup (pronounced or-zhaat) is the key ingredient to the Candied Almond Lemon Drop. If you’ve never heard of it, that’s okay. Originally only used in niche tiki drinks like the Mai Tai, in the last few years its started to gain more popularity, as well as spawned a number of variant nut syrups (I’ve particularly enjoyed a black sesame orgeat!). B.G. Reynolds and Small Hand Foods make my favorite versions. You can also try your hand at homemade orgeat, if you feel so inclined.
Tonic Syrup: I love using tonic syrup as a layering element in cocktails. This is the concentrated quinine syrup you find in the ready-to-drink carbonated versions bought in stores, although the quality is usually much higher. Culled from the Cinchona Tree and once considered a cure for malaria, quinine is a fascinating ingredient that goes beautifully with citrus flavors. You can buy tonic syrups online or in a lot of gourmet boutiques, and each is slightly different with its own added mix of botanicals. A little bitter and a little sweet, it’s a great addition to make a zero-proof cocktail feel complex and special. My current go to is Jack Ruby’s Classic Tonic Syrup, and I always keep some in the fridge.
Candied Almond Lemon Drop [Non-Alcoholic]
- 2 ounces orgeat syrup
- 1 ounce tonic syrup
- 1 ounce lemon juice
- 1 can (12 ounces) Lemon Spindrift (or other lemon seltzer)
- Candied lemon (for garnish)
- Combine the orgeat syrup, tonic syrup, and lemon juice together in a cocktail shaker with a handful of ice. Shake until chilled.
- Strain the candled almond concentrate into two glasses. Top each glass with half a can (about 6 ounces) of Lemon Spindrift. Serve with a candied lemon or citrus peel.
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