I'm an avowed gin & tonic lover: I love the way the lime zest hits my nose just as I'm about to take a sip. I love the sparkle and bite of the tonic, with its mysterious quinine flavor. And I do love a juniper-forward gin — usually. But during the holidays, when cooking can mean hours at a time in the kitchen, I veer more towards mocktails, which add to the festive atmosphere without leaving me drunk and exhausted before dinner even starts.
Enter: pomegranate molasses, which is just pomegranate juice that's been cooked down, sometimes with sugar, until it reaches the consistency of a thick syrup, almost like honey. Although it doesn't taste anything like gin, in a glass with tonic, it can serve the same purpose — it offers some bite and some sweetness, along with the deep, toasty flavor of the molasses. (The more tart the syrup, the less sweet the cocktail — so look for a pomegranate molasses without sugar, if you like things on the savory side.)
Made from ingredients I usually keep in my pantry, this quick mocktail also has a rich rosy color, so it definitely looks less frilly than most mocktails. Serve it in tall Collins glasses, if you have them, and remember as you pour that the mixture foams up a bit; they're best made just before serving.
1/2 cup boiling water
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
2 tablespoons honey, preferably wildflower
4 cups tonic water, chilled
Lime twists, for serving
Place the boiling water, pomegranate molasses, and honey in a small jar and whisk until well-blended. Fill 4 tall glasses with ice, then spoon 2 tablespoons of the syrup into each glass. Add about 1/2 cup tonic water to each (the mixture will foam), stir to blend, then add the remaining tonic water. Garnish with the lime twists and serve.
- Make ahead: The pomegranate syrup can be made and stored in the refrigerator and stored for up to 2 weeks.