Mocktails are alcohol-free drinks that combine local fruits, herbs, spices and sweeteners to create a complex flavor profile intended for maximum refreshment without the inebriation. A new cart serving these concoctions is opening in May in Warren.
Meet Kristi Dukoff once and you’ll instantly be sold on her passion for creating inventive libations. Her bubbly personality and colorful aesthetic might only be matched by the well-balanced beverages she’ll soon be serving up from a mobile cart situated next to the Taco Box and the bike path on Railroad Avenue in Warren early this May.
But there’s a twist to these unique, cocktail-like concoctions — even kids can enjoy them.
Dukoff is in the business of mocktails — alcohol-free drinks that combine local fruits, herbs, spices and sweeteners to create a complex flavor profile intended for maximum refreshment without the inebriation.
“The best part about these is they are balanced,” Dukoff said. “People automatically think when they hear ‘mocktail’ that it’s super sweet. It’s not. It’s a balanced beverage just like a cocktail you would get at a restaurant. It will hit every piece of your palate.”
Dukoff has the chops to back up that assertion, too. A skilled mixologist, she spent over six years as the bar manager for Gracie’s, a fine dining restaurant in Providence and spent a year in that role at Bywater. Her bartending brilliance led to multiple awards in the cocktail competition scene, including top regional prizes and a third place recognition among a crowd of 200 competitors in a past Star of the Bar Mixology Competition.
“My whole goal is to have these be like when you go out for a very expensive craft cocktail,” she said.
An artistic drink for an artistic town
Crafting the perfect mocktail requires a vast knowledge of flavor profiles, which Dukoff combines with partnerships she has made with local farms and constant trips to local farmer’s markets for produce. Steve Ramos from Bristol supplies her with a bounty of colorful, edible flowers to garnish.
“I like to think outside the box,” she said. “It’s like an artistic outlet. A lot of people don’t think about this stuff. Like I love bayleaf. You cook with it, but it has an incredible flavor. I like to use fun herbs like woodruff and sorrel.”
Mocktails are perfect for those who are too young to drink, have allergies to alcohol, are in recovery, or have been designated as the sober driver during a night out. But for those able to partake responsibly, Dukoff insists you will find no better mixer for your alcohol, and no better bargain for that matter.
“During the second heat of the pandemic I started thinking that maybe I should bottle these and offer them to people. So now you can purchase this balanced, craft, non-alcoholic beverage that you can take home and add alcohol to it for literally a fraction of the cost and have a restaurant-quality cocktail at home.”
Dukoff offers her mocktails in everything from a single-serving cup ($5) to a two-serving, 12-ounce bottle ($9), and all the way up to a full gallon ($65), which is enough for 21 servings. Each 11th beverage is free with presentation of a completed punch card.
Currently, you can find Dukoff and try out her mocktails by visiting the Basil and Bunny food truck (whom she partnered with) at local breweries and food truck festivals around the region. Dukoff got the green light from the Town Council during their April meeting, and said that the food cart will be open for business along the bike path either the first or second week in May, Mondays through Thursdays, likely from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. She encourages families to come out with their kids to meet her dog, Skittles, (featured on the company’s logo) and try out a beverage.
Now a Warren resident, Dukoff is a Buffalo native and certified member of the Bills Mafia. She said that she has been fully charmed by Warren.
“This town is unbelievable…It doesn’t get more charming than this,” she said. “I hope I get to meet some incredible people coming from the other small towns around us and make Warren even more of a destination for special things. Because you can’t just go anywhere for a really nice, balanced, non-alcoholic cocktail.”
To learn more, go to KristisKraftails.com, where you can order mocktails online for delivery or in-person pickup.