Have you ever had a really draining work week that was completely erased by a fantastic dining experience?
You know what I mean. When you’ve survived a week from Hell; solving one crisis after another while trying to maintain calm, but the inscrutable facial veneer is starting to wear thin. When you’ve said one too many helpful things in the last meeting of the week and you know it’s time to zip it and make your exit. When you take your car on the road trip to help out a high-mileage friend, just to discover the battery’s dead when you’re heading back to the office. When 5:00 Friday finally arrives and you really just want to just hit the couch and wrap up in your Snuggie. But first you need to eat. Sometimes this involves a quick spin to a drive-thru window and getting home ASAP. Sometimes you have just had enough with giving attention all week to bosses, co-workers, clients, spouse, and kids – and want to be the one receiving it. Yearning for something to renew your faith in human interactions, sometimes you just want to be waited on with a warm smile, no complications…and a mocktail.
So far in this quest for alcohol-free cocktails ordering a mocktail goes along with an explanation and often times a little coaching. Not exactly what you’re looking forward to at the end of a tough week. It was a great relief to discover two places in Little Rock with mocktails readily available to the alcohol free drinker. I am happy to say that on these two separate occasions after asking the waiter for a mocktail I was treated to the word I’ve been longing for, “Yes”- simple satisfaction in three letters. It feels like a warm hug to walk into an establishment and with absolute ease order “something before dinner” without any hassle.
The first time this happened I ventured into Kemuri after a particularly long soul sucking week at work expecting the need to give the same song and dance to our waiter. My shoulders slid down from my ears two inches when my reply to his pre-dinner beverage query was met with a selection of two mocktails from which to choose. Oh joy and rapture! The happy start to my weekend happened at that moment making the doom and gloom of the week begin to fade. We of course ordered both so as not to miss out on anything. When they came to the table I thought, “You totally get me”. Mine was a cucumber basil tonic with an astringently herbaceous flavor that went perfectly with my sushi. The hubs ordered a tall stemmed beauty that was fruity sweet and refreshing. Both of the drinks looked inviting and tasted distinctly like cocktails, not soft drinks. The dinner that followed was sculptural and delicious. If you’ve been to Kemuri you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t been, it’s an absolute treat. Every dish is a delight which begins with its presentation. Imaginative floral arrangements that contain a meal amongst the blossoms is how I would describe each plate. We left full, but lighter in spirit than when we sat down.
The second instance was less of a surprise. I had heard that Trios had a new list of mocktails on their menu and was eager to give them a whirl. Once again after a humbling work week it was time to relax and have a more affirming experience. It was definitely to be had at Trios. We sat at a high top table in the bar area and ordered two from three mocktails offered on the menu. It was glorious. No fuss- no muss, just a whole lot of inclusion. I asked for a Rosemary Blueberry Smash, and my husband had the Mango Mule. They both were fantastic with complex craft cocktail tastes. To be honest I was afraid that the Blueberry Smash was going to be too much like a fruit-slush. It was just the opposite. The mocktail was transparent with slight purple tint and layered with flavor. The Mango Mule, which was served in a traditional copper mug, was just as satisfying with the sweetness of mango countered by the bite of ginger. Dinner included warm brie and a lamb burger that lifted us both to cloud nine. The best part of the evening was overhearing the table sitting behind us ordering mocktails for themselves. Talk about affirming. Although I can’t take credit for Trios’ Mocktail addition, hearing that people are actually taking advantage of them being on the menu is a great big yes to me.
I want to extend my gratitude to the restaurants and bars that are warming up to and even embracing the idea of Mocktails. You are heroes to those who feel excluded from fully enjoying going out and socializing over a drink.