A few years ago I did an experiment that I called Mocktail March. I had been wanting to cut back on booze after essentially pickling myself with alcohol from Halloween until Oscars season. In fact, I remember polishing off a bottle of champagne after the last statuette had been given out because I really wanted to go out with a bang (so many healthy behaviors to dissect there—what a treat!). To start fresh, I mapped out 31 days where I was going to dry out. Aaaaaaand I planned really poorly. Turns out avoiding all social interactions and La Croix can only take you so far. After being served my 10th bout of sugar shock from a virgin mojito, I started to investigate how I could make something that still tasted like a cocktail without all of the sweet stuff bartenders relied on to make something zero-proof. The magical equation? Bitterness + astringency = The Fauxgroni. This recipe uses straight pomegranate juice for astringency. It provides that dry, tannic taste that you find in red wine. Not to mention it's one of the most antioxidant-rich, cancer-fighting, heart-healthy bad bitches around. And then we use bitters and orange peel for, you guessed it, bitterness. This brings the herbaceous taste of liquor to the game in just a few drops. Technically, bitters do contain alcohol, but in this case a few drops only helped my cause. Top it with a little soda water and a slice of orange and you'll be sipping your way through a sober evening without FOMO.
2 oz pomegranate juice, no sugar added
4-6 dashes angostura bitters
4 oz soda water
2 slices of orange
Grab a rocks glass and put the biggest, fanciest chunk of ice you have in it. If you don't have fancy ice, just fill the glass with the best of your ice maker. Place one of your slices of orange in a cocktail shaker and bruise it slightly with a muddler or a wooden spoon—focus mostly on pounding the peel. Add pomegranate juice, 4 dashes bitters, and club soda. Stir to combine. Pour the fauxgroni into your waiting rocks glass and add one or two additional splashes of bitters on top. Run your remaining orange slice over the rim and use it to garnish.
Note: If pomegranate juice isn't your thing, tart cranberry or tart cherry juice would work just as well. If you're a cocktail geek like I am, it's also fun to play around with the bitters you use as well. Cocktail Punk does a smoked orange that I love.
Inspired by Serious Eats Pomegranate Americano