by Chef Magazine staff

This article is the Beverage & Spirits online exclusive for the January 2009 issue.

It is well known that alcohol is the cash cow in the restaurant biz. Even in hard times, diners are still interested in cocktails, wine and beer to accompany their meals. That said, there's a growing number of customers out there who are interested in being included in the drink culture sans the alcohol. Consider customizing a mocktail menu. Your customers who wish to be alcohol-free will thank you for the creative beverages, and your bottom line will benefit from premium-priced nonalcoholic drinks.

Because Chef Magazine's January issue focused on health and nutrition, and many New Year's resolutions involve slimming down, here are some thoughts on more healthful mocktails to offer your diners. Think about low-calorie mixers and energy drinks, sugar substitutes, all-natural juices and teas--and don't forget the fun garnishes.

Antioxie Moxie

Yield: 1 drink

6 fresh blueberries, 6 frozen blueberries or 3/4 oz. blueberry purée
Ice, as needed
2 oz. Ocean Spray BarPac Mixer Cranergy Energy Juice Drink Cranberry Lift
3 oz. fresh-brewed green tea

Method (1) Muddle the blueberries in the base of a rocks glass. (2) Add ice and remaining ingredients. Stir before serving. Garnish with cranberries and blueberries on a cocktail pick.

Limonata Mocktail
Executive chef/owner Jonathan Eismann, Pacific Time, Miami Beach, Fla.,

Yield: 1 drink

1 1/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
1 oz. guarapo (an all-natural sweetener)
Ice, as needed
Sparkling water, as needed
Lemon wedges, for garnish

Method (1) Add lemon juice and guarapo to cocktail shaker full of ice and shake thoroughly. Strain over ice into a rocks glass. (2) Top with a splash of sparkling water; add lemon wedge for garnish.

Citrus Cooler

Yield: 16 drinks

5 lemons
5 limes
5 oranges
3 qt. water
Ice, as needed
1 1/2 c. Equal Bulk Pack
Fresh citrus slices, for ganish

Method (1) Squeeze the juice from the lemons, limes and oranges. Pour into a gallon container. (2) Stir water and Equal into juices; mix well. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to use. Serve over ice. (3) Garnish each drink with a fruit slice, if desired.

Blueberry Smoothie
U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council,

Yield: 1 drink

1 c. (5 oz.) fresh or frozen blueberries, slightly thawed or
1/2 c. pineapple, orange and strawberry juice blend or pineapple-orange juice
1/2 c. low-fat vanilla yogurt
1 t. sugar

Method (1) In the container of an electric blender, all ingredients; blend until smooth, about 1 minute. (2) Serve immediately in a tall glass garnished. If desired, with blueberry skewers spiraled with a thin strip of orange peel.

Apple Pie à la mode Shake
Rich Products,
Yield: 1 12-oz. drink

5 oz. french vanilla flavoring
2 oz. applesauce
1/4 t. ground cinnamon
Ice cubes, as needed
2 oz. Rich's On Top Sugar-Free whipped topping, plus more for garnish

Method (1) Blend all ingredients together, and serve with Rich's On Top as garnish.

Australian Soda
Danielle Tatarin, Designer Cocktail Co.,
Image courtesy of Wild Hibiscus Flower Co.,

Yield: 1 drink

1 hibiscus flower, from the new Wild Hibiscus Flowers In Syrup
Soda water, as needed
1/2 oz. hibiscus syrup, from the new Wild Hibiscus Flowers In Syrup

Method (1) Place hibiscus flower standing up at bottom of glass. Pour in chilled soda water. (2) Drizzle some syrup into the cocktail for a layered effect. Stir the cocktail as you drink to distribute the syrup.
The Idaho Potato Commission's first Idaho Potato Happy Hour Recipe Contest ran from Sept. 1 to Dec. 31, 2008, and challenged professional chefs and cooks at restaurants and other noncommercial foodservice establishments as well as culinary students to put pen to paper and share their surefire Idaho potato happy hour recipe secrets. In total, $35,000 was awarded in cash and prizes to the top recipe submissions in three categories: Appetizers, Side Dishes and Late-Night Snacks.

In total, seven recipes won first and second place in the three categories. The Grand Prize winner (and first-place Appetizer winner), Porcupine Idaho Potatoes With Hot Pepper Jelly Dipping Sauce (recipe below), submitted by Tommy Masaracchia, executive chef/owner of Tope La Restaurant in Hammond, La., dazzled the tasters. Other winning recipes included:
  • Second-place Appetizer: Parmesan Fried Diced Idaho Potatoes; Mark Newton, executive chef, Ohio State University
  • First-place Side Dish: Stuffed Idaho Potato Hashbrowns; Benjamin Thoen, chef, Good Thyme Woodfire Grill and Catering, Washburn, Wis.
  • Second-place Side Dish: Truffled Parmesan Idaho Potato Cannoli; Martin Wolf, executive chef, Greenville Tech Carolina Culinary Institute, Easley, S.C.
  • First-place Late-Night Snack: Idaho Potato Arancini; Pete Dressen, executive chef, Walden Country Inn, Aurora, Ohio
  • Second-place Late-Night Snack: Fully Loaded Idaho Potato Gnocchi; Jorge De La Torre, dean of culinary education, Johnson & Wales University, Denver Campus
  • Second Place Late-Night Snack: Irish Style Nachos With Idaho Potatoes; Patterson Watkins, catering manager, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
To view the winning recipes and photography, visit

Porcupine Idaho Potatoes with Hot Pepper Jelly Dipping Sauce
Tommy Masaracchia, executive chef/owner, Tope La Restaurant, Hammond, La.
Image courtesy of the Idaho Potato Commission

Yield: 48 porcupine potatoes or 12 appetizers

6 (50-ct.) Idaho potatoes
3 1/2 oz. salted butter, melted
5 oz. sour cream
8 oz. American cheese, shredded
5 c. buttermilk
5 T. salt
2 1/2 T. black pepper
1/2 t. cayenne pepper
1/2 t. granulated garlic
1 box (15 oz.) shredded wheat, large biscuits
All-purpose flour, as needed
Hot Pepper Jelly Dipping Sauce (recipe follows)

Method (1) Clean Idaho potatoes, and place on sheet pan. Bake at 350°F for 1-1 1/2 hours or until cooked throughout. Remove from oven, and let cool. Cut each potato in half lengthwise and scoop out the potato into a large bowl. (2) Using a potato masher, mash the potatoes until 80% mashed. Add remaining ingredients, and mix well. (3) Form potato balls using a 1-oz. scoop. Allow to cool before breading. (4) In another bowl, add the buttermilk with the salt, black pepper, cayenne and granulated garlic. Mix well. (5) In a third bowl, add the shredded wheat, and crush with hands until all chunks have been crushed. (6) Dust potato balls in flour, and add to seasoned buttermilk. (7) Place potato balls in shredded wheat, and roll around until coated all over. Continue until all potato balls have been breaded. (8) To cook, fry in a preheated 350°F fryer until golden brown. Serve 4 porcupine potatoes per appetizer with 2 oz. of Hot Pepper Jelly Dipping Sauce.

Hot Pepper Jelly Dipping Sauce
3 c. red bell pepper, minced
1 1/2 c. green bell pepper, minced
2/3 c. apple cider vinegar
2 1/4 t. crushed red pepper
2 2/3 c. granulated sugar
1/2 oz. pectin

Method (1) Add all ingredients except pectin to a sauce pot. Bring to a boil, and boil for 10 minutes. (2) Add pectin, and continue to cook for 1 minute. (3) Keep warm for serving. (Note: There is not enough pectin in this jelly to stiffen. This jelly will keep a sauce consistency.)