Lacombe resident’s creation crowned mocktail contest winner
The hibiscus raspberry mojito is one mocktail that those looking to avoid alcohol can have. The drink was created by Lacombe’s Rebecca McMurray and is featured on the Cilantro and Chive menu. (Photo supplied)
If you mix a Lacombe resident, a raspberry surplus and bit of imagination together you’d have the recipe for the Dry9 initiative’s mocktail contest winner.
Last week, Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) announced Rebecca McMurray of Cilantro and Chive as the first ever winner of the mocktail contest for her Hibiscus Raspberry Mojito.
McMurray says she and fellow staff were challenged to create fresh, new non-alcoholic drink recipes. Not only did hers make it onto the restaurant’s menu and impress locals, it was declared the best out of 16 finalists in the contest and is now featured on the AGLC’s DrinkSense website.
“My inspiration for the drink came from seeing what we could do with extra raspberries we had,” she said. “I love mojitos and my goal was to create a delicious mocktail that not only I would love, but others would feel the same way about, too.”
Dry9 is a movement aimed at expecting mothers and delivering the message that no amount of alcohol is proven safe while pregnant. As of April, 900 moms-to-be had committed to do a “Dry9” and say no to alcohol during pregnancy, which is why AGLC launched the mocktail contest to promote alternatives to alcoholic beverages.
While Cilantro and Chive is known for its craft beer selection, Restaurant Manager Jason Burns says it’s key they have something for everyone on the menu and be aware of food sensitivities, and dietary restrictions. They don’t want to placate them with water or the same-old options every other restaurant has, however, but give them a variety of choices that make guests feel special.
A fair bit of research went into creating the hibiscus raspberry mojito, including the creation of a raspberry hibiscus syrup, which included Nixon Honey and other fresh ingredients to put a “fun twist” on the traditional mojito.
“It was really important for us, if we’re going to have an unleaded drink on the menu, that it really stands alone as something that’s really delicious without needing alcohol,” he said. “It does and we’ve sold a lot of them. It’s been great.”
Cilantro and Chive encourages staff to have input and come up with creative ideas for menu items, including drinks. Their menu has an entire section, affectionately dubbed “Nanton Street Cocktails,” which features creations of the restaurant team.
Burns says that given their staff are ambassadors of the restaurant and their brand, it’s important for them to have some ownership of a piece of the business – even something as small as a drink contribution – not only for morale purposes but just as engagement pieces they might not have anywhere else.
“I’m really proud we can have our team create beverages, but also highlight and showcase beverages for everybody,” he said. “We want all of our guests to have a fun experience.”
Hibiscus Raspberry Mojito (serves 2 to 4 people)
- 2 oz raspberry Hibiscus syrup*
- 1 oz fresh lime juice
- 4-6 raspberries
- 8-10 mint leaves
- Muddle ingredients together, top with club soda.
*To make raspberry hibiscus syrup, bring 2 cups brown sugar, 2 cups water and 1 raspberry hibiscus tea bag to a boil. Let stand until cooled.