5 Nerdy Cocktails (and Mocktails) to Distract You From the World

From left: The Snyder Cup, The Child, and Romulan Ale Fizz.
From left: The Snyder Cup, The Child, and Romulan Ale Fizz.
Photo: Beth Elderkin

Well, it’s the time of year (or every four years) when you might find yourself needing new ways to keep yourself relaxed. Some people do yoga, others take up hobbies like knitting or building complex Lego sets. I like to drink.

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Before I went back to school to finish my degree and become a journalist, I spent years working as a bartender, wine steward, and winery employee. I’ve long loved the experience of pairing wines and crafting cocktails, savoring the process as much as the buzz you get afterward. So, I decided to pay it forward this week by crafting some awesome nerdy cocktails that you can make at home. You know, for no reason whatsoever. Just life. It’s fine.

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Some of the drinks require special ingredients, but I’ve done my best to find ones that are easy to make at home or buy at the store. I’ve also made sure each drink comes with a non-alcoholic “mocktail” option for those who aren’t drinking. This includes me at the moment, as I’m currently in the middle of growing a person so I can’t have booze (yes it’s fine and not terrible why do you ask). I’ve recently gotten into the growing trend of non-alcoholic spirits—especially the ones from Seedlip, which are fantastic. For folks who can’t access them, you can substitute things like white grape juice, ginger beer, or flavored water.


“The Child” (for The Mandalorian)

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This one was my favorite, totally worth the effort to make.
Photo: Beth Elderkin

Inspired by: The Geisha from The Point Restaurants

The Mandalorian season two has finally premiered, so there’s no better time to celebrate the most Baby of Yodas. This martini cocktail combines fruity and herbal flavors—along with the subtle umami of Matcha tea—to give us a drink that tastes a bit like hanging out on a foggy, distant planet with Mando and his baby. Plus, it’s green!

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Ingredients:

  • 1.5 oz vodka (or Seedlip Grove 42 non-alcoholic spirits)
  • 1 tbsp ginger liqueur (or ginger syrup, recipe here)
  • 1 tbsp honey syrup (recipe here)
  • 1 tbsp chilled Matcha tea (recipe here—can use a shaker instead of whisk, shaking vigorously for 30 seconds)
  • 3-5 slices cucumber
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice (about half a lemon)
  • 2 cucumber ribbons for garnish

How to make:

1. Add honey syrup and cucumber slices into cocktail shaker, muddle for 10-15 seconds to combine.

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2. Add all the other ingredients (except the garnish) and dry shake without ice for a few seconds, then add ice and shake for 15-20 seconds.

3. Strain into a fine mesh strainer (to make sure you get all the cucumber pieces) over a chilled martini glass.

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4. Twist the cucumber ribbons over toothpicks to look like frog’s legs and serve.

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“That Old-Fashioned Magic” (for Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)

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My glass was a little too big to get the full effect, but the barley tea was surprisingly good.
Photo: Beth Elderkin
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Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is coming back with its fourth and final “chapter” at the end of the year—which means that even though Halloween has come and gone, we can still raise a glass to the wicked and macabre. The Spellmans are a classy bunch, so I decided to go with a classic old-fashioned—mainly because the non-alcoholic version seemed fascinating, using barley tea to recreate the drink’s use of bourbon.

The only thing to keep in mind is that this drink uses Angostura bitters, which technically contain alcohol. However, much like putting pure vanilla extract in frosting, a small amount of bitters in a drink is still considered non-alcoholic. For those who completely abstain there’s a homemade alternative linked below, but it takes a few ingredients.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 oz bourbon (or barley tea, brewed and chilled)
  • 1 sugar cube
  • Angostura bitters (non-alcoholic alternative recipe here)
  • 1 maraschino cherry and orange peel, for garnish

How to make:

1. Place the sugar cube in the bottom of a rocks glass.

2. Douse the sugar cube with 2 dashes Angostura bitters or non-alcoholic alternative.

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3. Add a splash of very cold water and muddle for 10-15 seconds to combine.

4. Fill the glass with ice, then add the bourbon or barley tea and stir to combine.

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5. Twist the orange peel over the glass to activate its flavors, then add to cocktail with the cherry, and enjoy.

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“Romulan Ale Fizz” (for Star Trek: Discovery)

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I made mine without the fizz because of the salmonella risk with egg whites. Glows in the black light just as well, though!
Photo: Beth Elderkin
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Inspired by “5 Star Trek Cocktails to Try Now” by John deBary

Star Trek: Discovery has traveled to the distant future for its latest season, so I thought we’d do the same! Unfortunately, I don’t have the time or money to dive into the science of Molecular Mixed Drinks, so we’re pulling out our black light to do a glow-in-the-dark take on Star Trek’s Romulan Ale. This recipe is more akin to a Gin Fizz than a classic Romulan Ale, but that’s mainly because it’s hard to make a non-alcoholic alternative for that boozy monstrosity. Just make sure you buy tonic water if you want the drink to glow—soda or sparkling water won’t work.

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Ingredients:

  • 1.5 oz gin (or Seedlip Grove 42 non-alcoholic spirits)
  • 1 oz Blue Curaçao liqueur (or Blue Curaçao Monin syrup)
  • 1 tbsp simple syrup (recipe here)
  • 1.5 tbsp lemon juice (about 3/4 lemon)
  • 2 oz tonic water
  • 4 drops orange blossom water (or 1 small orange peel)
  • 1 egg white (if making a fizz)

How to make:

1. Fill a tall glass with ice and chill in the fridge.

2. Add everything but the tonic water and orange blossom water into a cocktail shaker. If you’re using an orange peel instead, add it to the shaker.

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3. If making a fizz, dry shake without ice for 30 seconds to emulsify the egg, then add ice and shake for another 15-20 to chill. If not making a fizz, simply shake with ice until chilled.

4. Remove the ice from the chilled glass, then strain the liquids through a fine mesh strainer into the glass.

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5. Top with tonic water and orange blossom water (if using).

6. Get that black light ready!

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“Toss a Coin” (for The Witcher)

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Chocolate coins are not “in season” yet, so I substitute an almond buttercup. When it comes to hunting monsters, it’s all about improvising!
Photo: Beth Elderkin
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Inspired by: Espresso Martino, from Seedlip Cocktails by Ben Branson

Geralt of Rivia is kind of a bitter person, so I thought an espresso martini was just what the doctor ordered. But of course, you’ve got to “toss” in that chocolate coin to give him the touch of sweetness (and payment) he deserves. There’s a chance the drink will still be a tad too bitter for some folks, in which case I would substitute a flavored vodka, like “whipped cream.” I also included a recipe for cold brew concentrate, but it takes a long time to make so for ease I’d recommend buying some instead.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 oz vodka (or Seedlip Spice 94 non-alcoholic spirits)
  • 2 oz cold brew concentrate (recipe here)
  • 1 tbsp simple syrup
  • 1 chocolate coin for garnish

How to make:

1. Add all ingredients except the garnish into a cocktail shaker.

2. Add ice and shake for 15-20 seconds until chilled.

3. Strain over a fine mesh strainer into a coupe or martini glass.

4. Garnish with the (unwrapped) chocolate coin.

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“The Snyder Cup” (for You Know What)

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I seriously could’ve had 10 of these. Luckily I now have a 1lb bag of mulling spices, so I can.
Photo: Beth Elderkin
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The Snyder Cut is so hot right now, so I’m making a spiked spiced cider to keep us warm during the cold winter months. For this one, I’d recommend using bagged mulling spices instead of individually buying the spice ingredients, but I like to add orange slices and cinnamon to mine for extra flavor. If you want to spike it, make sure to put the bourbon (or non-alcoholic spirits) in your mug instead of in the cooker, so the alcohol doesn’t burn off. But you can totally have this drink just by itself too.

Ingredients:

  • 1 gallon apple cider
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 bag mulling spices
  • 2 oz bourbon (or Lyre’s American Malt non-alcoholic spirits)
  • 1 orange slice and cinnamon stick for garnish

How to make:

1. Add all ingredients except the bourbon (or non-alcoholic spirits) and garnish.

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2. If using a slow cooker: Set to low for 4 to 6 hours.

3. If using stovetop: Bring liquid to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover the pot and simmer for 30 minutes to 2 hours.

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4. Pour Bourbon (or non-alcoholic spirits) into a mug and fill with spiced cider, straining through a fine mesh strainer.

5. Add garnish and enjoy!

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Video Editor and Staff Writer at io9. My doppelganger is that rebelling greeting card from Futurama.

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DISCUSSION

Picked up some ginger beer yesterday. Probably going to be mainlining Kentucky Mules tomorrow night. Could do those.. “other” Mules but I think my night could use a little less Russian interference.