The cocktail industry is actually partially responsible for this uptick in seriously good non-alcoholic drinks. The craft cocktail movement of the early aughts, in which drinkers came to expect carefully constructed, costly drinks, painstakingly made using fresh juices and top-shelf ingredients laid the groundwork for a public that now craves high-quality libations, and will pay for them. "It would be hard to be like, we created these craft cocktails without alcohol in it, before people would buy the craft cocktail itself," says Josh Relkin, head bartender at Proxi in Chicago, a street food-inspired restaurant with an extensive NA menu.
What constitutes a good virgin drink here extends far beyond the mass-produced elements of a Shirley Temple. For instance, Relkin makes his own tepache, a fermented Mexican pineapple beverage, which he brews from the rinds and cores of fruit that the kitchen would have otherwise discarded, along with yeast, sugar, Chinese five-spice, cinnamon, and cloves. The drink is a collaboration between the bar and the kitchen, an integral aspect of Proxi's NA program, as well as many of the more ambitious non-alcoholic programs across the country.