As soon as Backstreet Café's beverage director Sean Beck spotted a new line of apple-flavored juices and sodas at a grocery store, he decided to make one of his own. After a spirited discussion of apples with a winemaker, Beck chose the Fuji as the base for his drink.
"A lot of restaurants treat virgin cocktails like vegetarian dishes: They just make a drink from the regular menu and leave out the alcohol," says Boka Kitchen's executive chef Seis Kamimura. "I love the challenge of creating original nonalcoholic drinks that are special in their own right."
At the Belle Epoque–style Absinthe Brasserie, general manager and cocktail book author Jeff Hollinger serves up modern adaptations of 19th-century classic drinks. His Strawberry & Ginger Cooler is one of the few nonalcoholic refreshers on the menu.
"Ask most bartenders about the molecular difference between the acid in citrus and the acid in apples, and they're lost," says Sebastian Reaburn. In this fizz, he pairs tart apple juice with hot chile, which adds great heat and a zingy, slightly sweet pepper taste.
Like an old-fashioned soda-fountain drink, this mocktail relies on a delicious small-batch syrup. Its creator is Jennifer Colliau, a mixologist at San Francisco's Slanted Door restaurant and an artisanal syrup maker who also owns Small Hand Foods, which sells classic ingredients for pre-Prohibition era cocktails.