Whether you’re toasting friends and family in celebration or calming your nerves at the very same social obligations, the holidays inevitably present many opportunities for alcohol consumption. This year, instead of drinking to excess, consider adding some mocktails to your repertoire—or at least have them ready for any teetotaler guests. We asked four of the state’s best bartenders to share their current favorite creations with us for the yuletide season. And with a “nice” mocktail for every “naughty” cocktail, you can be sure there’s something delicious for everyone to sip.

Marian Scaturro, Dallas

Marian Scaturro can usually be found behind the bar at Beverley’s Bistro & Bar, and occasionally at Shoals Sound & Service. She invented the Braveheart cocktail after camping in the mountains of western Pennsylvania in early autumn. Scaturro prefers to use a smoke-forward blended scotch to evoke the scent and feeling of the crisp forest air, but a peaty single malt will also work well. Muddled rosemary gives her Caught Under the Mistletoe mocktail an herbal, evergreen profile as well. “Theres something so intensely magical about the woods late in the night,” says Scaturro. “It’s the same magic people feel around the holidays, I think.”

Naughty: The Braveheart

1 1/4 ounces Johnnie Walker Black Label scotch whisky
3/4 ounce Cocchi Vermouth di Torino
1/4 ounce allspice dram
1/4 ounce orange clove demerara syrup*
Port wine, to taste
Luxardo cherry, for garnish

Thanks for reading Texas Monthly

We’re publishing more stories than ever before, and giving you unlimited access to all of it. Subscribe now to have the magazine delivered to your home.

Stir all ingredients and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Float about 1/4 to 1/2 ounce of port wine on top by pouring over the back of a spoon just above the cocktail’s surface. Garnish with a Luxardo cherry.

*To make orange clove demerara syrup, bring equal parts brown sugar and water to a low boil in a large pot (I like to use one liter of each). Add in one whole orange, peeled and sliced into thick circles. Crack a handful of whole cloves before adding to the pot. Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Strain and allow to cool before serving.

Nice: Caught Under Mistletoe

Rosemary sprigs
2 slices of cucumber
1 ounce water
3/4 ounce cranberry juice
3/4 ounce lime juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
Fever Tree Mediterranean Tonic
Cranberries, for garnish

Muddle two rosemary sprigs with the cucumber slices in a shaker tin. Add the rest of the ingredients. Shake and strain into an ice-filled Collins glass. Top with tonic. Garnish with another rosemary sprig and cranberries.

Aaron Peña, San Antonio

Having been born and raised in the South Side of San Antonio, Aaron Peña, owner of festive North St. Mary’s bar the Squeezebox, grew up with plenty of spice in his life. That was the inspiration for these drinks, the first made with Twang chile-lime rimming salt. The second is influenced by tiki culture and makes for a great nonalcoholic option all year long. “I love tiki culture and old-themed tiki bars, but having been in this industry for so long, there are nights where I just don’t feel like drinking,” says Peña. “The passion fruit mocktail is a tasty drink to have at the bar and still be able to socialize without having to have an actual drink . . . and I think a chamoy rim on anything is about as South Texas as it gets!” The Squeezebox orders chamoy in bulk from Alamo Candy, a local company known for sending kids to the dentist every day.

Naughty: Sugar and Spice

2 ounces bourbon
1/4 ounce allspice liqueur
3/4 ounce cinnamon-infused simple syrup
3/4 ounce cranberry juice
Twang’s Sunrise Spice chile-lime rimming salt

Shake together the first four ingredients and serve up in a glass rimmed with the salt.

Nice: Flor de Luna

1/4 ounce fresh lime juice
6 ounces passion fruit juice
Four dashes grenadine
Chamoy, for the rim
Mint, for garnish

Combine the first three ingredients and serve over ice in a glass rimmed with chamoy. Garnish with a fresh mint sprig.

Sarah Troxell, Houston

The winner of the South Central regional of the national Speed Rack competition for female bartenders, Sarah Troxell can be a whirling dervish behind the bar. But as bar manager of both Nobie’s and The Toasted Coconut in Houston, she gets to take things a little slower and create cocktails like this refreshing winter elixir. “Holiday cocktails tend to lean into dark and rich indulgent flavors, so I focused on something light and bright,” says Troxell, who grew up in nearby Katy. “This drink pairs well with the 75 degree winters I am use to experiencing in Texas.” Her mocktail is an easy, nonalcoholic version.

Naughty: Snow on the Pines

1 1/2 ounces Ford’s gin
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
3/4 ounce rosemary simple syrup*
3/4 ounce Lillet Blanc
2 ounces Topo Chico
Rosemary sprig misted with absinthe and dusted with powdered sugar, for garnish

Stir all ingredients and serve over ice. Add sprig for garnish.

*To make the rosemary simple syrup, bring 1 cup white sugar and 1/2 cup water to a boil. Remove from heat and add 4 rosemary sprigs (about 4 inches long). Allow syrup to steep 3 hours before removing the rosemary. 

Nice: Virgin Snow on the Pines

2 ounces fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 ounces rosemary simple syrup* (see above)
2 ounces Topo Chico
Rosemary sprig for garnish

Stir all ingredients and serve over ice. Add sprig for garnish.

Caer Ferguson, Austin

As the bar manager of the Eleanor, Caer Ferguson is no stranger to Christmas spirit. Find her, decked out in sparkles and candy stripes, behind the bar of the Miracle on 5th Street pop-up running there through December 29. While those drinks a little more rooted in Western Christmas tradition, Ferguson contributed these two original creations, both inspired by the Daijoubu Asian cocktail pop-up she and colleague Sharon Yeung started this year to celebrate bold, playful Eastern flavors. “Not everyone celebrates Christmas, which has lead to the popularity of Chinese food on the holidays where most restaurants are closed,” explains Ferguson. “The General Tso’s Manhattan is slighty spicy and a little oily, like good Chinese food.”

Naughty: General Tso’s Perfect Manhattan

1 1/2 ounces Dickel Tabasco rye
1/4 ounce Plantation Xaymaca
3 dashes Angostura bitters
1 ounce Martini Riserva Speciale Ambrato and Rubino infused with General Tso’s sauce*
Lemon peel
Orange peel
Chile oil

Stir first four ingredients and serve up in a coupe. Express the lemon and orange peels into the drink and drop in the drink for garnish. Add a few drops of chile oil.

*Combine 1 teaspoon of General Tso’s sauce and with 1/2 ounce of Ambrato and 1/2 ounce of Rubino. Whisk and then strain through a coffee filter. 

Nice: Thaiger Mami

5 ounces Thai tea
1 1/2 ounces half-and-half
Massaman curry paste, to taste
Edible flower, for garnish

Pour tea over ice in a snifter. In a separate cup, add curry paste with half-and-half and stir. Add the cream to the tea and garnish with an edible flower.