Welcome to Like A Virgin, a new column in which we’ll recommend a different zero-ABV drink each week. They’re not “near beers,” they’re not “mocktails”—they’re delicious beverages that anyone and everyone should try at least once. Got an idea for a future Like A Virgin column? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ever since I took a silly joke too far and became a vinegar-sipping dandy, I’d been on the hunt for bespoke vinegars that are befitting of a sophisticated lady such as myself. Enter Acid League, a company that takes vinegar so seriously that it’s more than a liquid—it’s a lifestyle. Its website declares that Acid League is “culinary creativity and design,” “experimentation and collaboration,” and “science and art,” all happening at the same time. It is as much about vinegar culture as it is vinegar cultures, and instead of a traditional sales catalog, Acid League has a $15 magazine “where science, culinary creativity, art, and design live side by side.” This is the exactly the sort of highfalutin acetic acid experience that a woman of my stature deserves!
Vinegar’s sharp acidity can make some serious fireworks happen in beverages, jolting your palate into full attention the same way sour citrus does. However, this isn’t a perfect comparison. Vinegar is about twice as potent as lemons or limes, so if you’re replacing citrus with vinegar in a summery drink, you’ll need less of it than you think. If you’re just starting to dabble in #VinegarLyfe, remember to scale any beverage recipe accordingly.
While pretty much any lemon or lime is fit for juicing, you need to be more persnickety about quality when buying a vinegar, because most vinegars on store shelves are not fit for drinking. Acid League vinegar runs $15 a bottle, and while that might be too pricey to use for poaching eggs or scrubbing grout, as a bar ingredient, it’s worth every penny.
The last thing you need to remember also happens to be the very thing that makes the vinegar lifestyle so seductive in the first place: whereas citrus has its limits, vinegar can deliver a seemingly incalculable number of different flavors along with its acidic punch. One night I decided to treat myself to a mock whiskey sour made with Lyre’s American Malt, agave, and Acid League’s Smoked Malt Vinegar, and it was sublime. I made it the next night with Meyer Lemon Honey Vinegar, and the next with Apple Cider Maple Vinegar, and each time it tasted like a completely different drink. Modern vinegar culture has opened my eyes to an entire multiverse of vinegar-based whiskey sours yet to be discovered.
Outside of the occasional sultry nightcap, I’ve like keeping things simple with Acid League vinegar, adding a small splash to seltzer so that I can really appreciate the myriad of flavors that accompany the sharp bite. (Mango Jalapeno Vinegar and lemon-lime seltzer is a personal favorite.) If you’re already a full-blown member of high vinegar society with a fancy mocktail recipe all your own, tell me all about it in the comments! I’ve got a home bar stocked with Acid League, and I’m ready to fully immerse myself in as much vinegar culture as my taste buds can handle.
- 2 oz. non-alcoholic whiskey alternative, like Lyre’s or Ritual
- 1/2 oz. high quality vinegar, like Acid League
- 3/4 oz. agave or simple syrup
Add everything to a cocktail shaker full of ice. Shake vigorously for 10-15 seconds until the outside of the shaker is cold, strain into a rocks glass, and enjoy.