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Where to find the best mocktails in Texas

Flat lay composition with lime and rosemary cocktail on gray table Photo by New Africa/stock.adobe.com

Libations preside over much merriment during the holidays. But not everyone is on board with imbibing alcohol: Plenty of us are hitting the pause button to reassess what works best for our well-being. But just because we opt out of sipping traditional cocktails doesn’t mean we stop having fun or quit looking forward to refreshing beverages.

“People are looking for fresh alternatives for overall health and wellness benefits and wanting to make more authentic connections in their social lives,” says Beth Hutson, a Fort Worth producer/publicist and creator of The Elevated Elixir, which introduces her social media followers to mocktail videos and recipes, as well as the explosion of brands bringing booze-free ingredients to mixologists everywhere. “We’re finding thoughtful options that appeal to drinker and nondrinker alike—there’s a lot for everyone to enjoy.”

A look around Texas turns up several restaurants and bars offering zero-proof drinks that please the palate and the eye. Here’s where to enjoy mocktails in any season; you might also find inspiration for creating your own holiday parties at home, as well.

1. Aba, Austin

The mocktail: Gazoz With a Kick

The Gazoz with a Kick mocktail

Photo by Thomas Moore

In Austin, the Mediterranean restaurant Aba incorporates influences from Israel, Lebanon, Turkey, and Greece.

Liz Pearce, Aba’s bar genius, crafts the Gazoz With a Kick—a play on a popular Tel Aviv herbaceous sparkling beverage called gazoz—by mixing lime juice and Aba’s handmade pineapple–Fresno chile cordial with soda water, and garnishing it with a pineapple wedge and a dash of zippy Aleppo pepper.

2. Corinne, Austin

The mocktail: Step 13

Mocktail made at Corinne, signature  restaurant located inside the Austin Marriott Downtown

Photo courtesy Austin Marriott Downtown

At Corinne, a modern American restaurant within the new Marriott in downtown Austin, a team of bar specialists whips up virtuous, tasty drinks.

The Step 13 is a tall concoction of house-made strawberry-basil reduction that’s teased with lime juice, poured over ice, and topped off with cold Topo Chico. The highball glass is garnished with a dehydrated lime wheel and a fluffy mint sprig.

3. Store House Market and Eatery, Bastrop

The mocktail: Virgin Paloma

The Virgin Paloma features fresh lime,  grapefruit juice, house-made grapefruit cordial, and a tiny  dash of sea salt.

Photo courtesy Store House Market and Eatery

Chef-owner Sonya Cote’s Store House Market and Eatery offers a remarkable menu of seasonal dishes amid a beautiful setting inside a 175-year-old building in Bastrop.

Among the booze-free drinks is a rendition of a classic Texas favorite: The Virgin Paloma leaves off the tequila but gains all the flavor with fresh lime and grapefruit juices, shaken with a house-made grapefruit cordial, and garnished with a hint of sea salt, plus a thick pink grapefruit wedge, which is at its most flavorful in winter.

4. Rosie Cannonball, Houston

The mocktail: Piña’hot’a

In Houston, the menu at Rosie Cannonball is big enough to befit the nation’s fourth-largest city. The Montrose district hangout for steak, pizza, and pasta offers an intriguing mocktails list. 

The Piña’hot’a is a highball that blends pineapple, a black Chinese tea called Golden Monkey, habanero, and ginger beer seasoned with a sprinkling of spicy house-made tajin. The habanero salt tincture is made by infusing fresh peppers into a saltwater solution, rather than alcohol.

5. Hill and Vine, Fredericksburg

The mocktail: Snake in My Boot

Snake in My Boot Mocktail

Photo courtesy Hill and Vine

Fredericksburg’s new hit restaurant Hill and Vine uses Texas-sourced goods in its recipes.

Co-owner and general manager Jesse Barter adjusts the bar’s assorted mocktails to suit customers’ tastes, but says the perennial favorite is Snake in My Boot, which combines pineapple, prickly pear, and lime juices with a dash of simple syrup, and then is topped off with Topo Chico. The drink is served over ice in a glass boot and garnished with a thick pineapple spear.

6. Hard Shake, Dallas

The mocktail: Rebel Rebel

The Rebel mocktail from Hard Shake

Photo courtesy Hard Shake

Inside Dallas’ new downtown food hall, The Exchange, Hard Shake is a second-floor bar that serves sophisticated cocktails in a vintage art deco setting.

“Our mocktails service is aimed at always making sure nondrinkers feel just as welcome as people imbibing,” says beverage director Alex Fletcher.

Among several tasty temptations, the Rebel Rebel scores points for its sweet-spicy balance of red bell pepper juice mixed with honey, citrus, and mint, with a Thai chile garnish—all sure to liven up the holidays.

7. Bacchus Kitchen and Bar, Grapevine

The mocktail: Berry Nojito

Berry Nojito

Photo courtesy Bacchus Kitchen and Bar

Bacchus Kitchen and Bar inside the boutique Hotel Vin in Grapevine offers Euro-Mediterranean dining, complete with zero-proof drink options.

The Berry Nojito earns praise for hitting the sweet-and-sour notes, with fresh berry and herbal complements, thanks to fresh strawberries and blueberries muddled with mint and lime. The drink is poured over ice in a tall cooler.

8. The Usual, Fort Worth

The mocktail: Great Obsession

The usual

Photo by Brian Hutson/Elevated Content

The Usual, a popular bar in Fort Worth’s Near Southside, draws a crowd devoted to clever mixology.

Barman Jason Pollard pampers patrons skipping the booze with creations like his Great Obsession: Into a stemmed glass, he mixes his own Earl Grey tea simple syrup with a verbena “aperitif” from Bax Botanics and an NA Juicy IPA from Untitled Art. He fills the glass with crushed ice nuggets and garnishes it with a lemon slice.

9. Black Cur Steak, Coleman

The mocktail: Prickly Spine

The Black Cur Prickly Spine mocktail

Photo by Robert Williamson

The old oil field–ranchland town of Coleman is home to Black Cur Steak, where chef-owner Laurie Williamson crafts magic for plates and glasses alike.

Her Prickly Spine is a ruby-colored mocktail made with muddled jalapeño, prickly pear puree, smoked agave nectar, and a trace of lime juice, all shaken together and poured into a classic coupe. Topped with tonic water, the drink is garnished with jalapeño and a dehydrated lime slice, with a touch of smoked salt on the rim.

June Naylor is an award-winning food and travel writer based in Fort Worth. She writes frequently for AAA Explorer

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