To my adult friends who want to be a part of the fun at bars and restaurants at Universal Orlando Resort without having to drink the alcohol — this one goes out to you.
A theme park day or night out should be a thrilling and comfortable experience for everyone, especially when there’s themed, zero-proof fun involved. I toured the resort, interviewed mocktail curators and even got to taste-test items to serve you a glimpse of my favorite alcohol-free libations.
But you should know that these are not just any mocktails… Picture elevated beverages customized to your adventure across the resort’s venues. Making a stop at Chez Alcatraz or even Backwater Bar? We’ve got you covered. And the best part? You can sip along with your crew and absorb the vibes — booze and buzz-free.
CityWalk has been the place to be for entertainment or to grab a bite as a break in your park day. Now, it is also the place to try out the official new mocktail menus available across most of its venues.
The team over at Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen has been churning up some sweet delights to add to its rather expansive dessert-themed menu. General manager Kailey New said the team came together to craft drinks aligned with the emporium’s theme. “We want to have options for all guests,” she says. When looking to make menu updates, the team saw it was necessary to include specially crafted items for guests who do not drink alcohol. Although known for its mega-milkshakes, Toothsome’s sweet mocktails are surely not to be missed.
The Penelope’s Popping Punch is one creative candy concoction with grapefruit juice, garnished with carbonated candy for a refreshing twist. Additional choices are Just Golden, made with peach purée and lemon-lime soda, and Energy Jacque, with espresso, hazelnut and soy milk.
But if chocolate is the only thing on your mind at this spot, you can always ask for a virgin Chocolate Martini — a.k.a. glorified chocolate milk — which can be served in a martini glass, with chocolate cream, chocolate ganache, whipped cream, and dusted with Oreo cocoa powder. It is rich in chocolate-y goodness and smooth to sip on as a refreshing dessert mocktail… A perfectly small indulgence to sweeten your day. Can you already taste it?
I also recommend the Virgin Raspberry or Peach Mojito, made with muddled raspberry or peach purée.
Burgers, sushi and drinks? If you and your park crew are split on what to eat, this is the place for you.
When chatting with general manager Aaron Tang, he noted that mocktails have grown in popularity. The team decided there was no better time than now to hop on board and take their offerings to the next level. “We’ve always invested in creating alcoholic beverages, but we’re now really going for something more elevated that is meant for grown-ups but does not have alcohol,” he says.
Tang adds the team really got their “creative juices” flowing — and they sure did! In addition to Cowfish’s version of the Lychee Spritz currently on the menu — made with Italian spritz, lychee syrup and orange sparkling water — the restaurant has just released Thyme After Time, crafted with muddled blueberries, thyme-infused simple syrup made in-house, lemon and ginger beer. This mocktail is inspired by Tang’s very own grandmother’s blueberry thyme tarts — yum!
Smoky flavors and aromas of wood fire — need I say more?
Aside from being able to order tableside s’mores (because who wouldn’t?), Bigfire can craft the right drink for you. Try a virgin Safe Apple Sour, with maple syrup, apple juice and sage. It is a smooth drink, reminiscent of fall flavors perfectly balanced against subtle notes of sage.
Bigfire’s new mocktail menu features a Strawberry Elderflower Pink Lemonade, with raspberry, basil, muddled strawberry, elderflower, lemonade, tonic and chili boba; the Blackberry Breeze,with muddled blackberries, mint, ginger ale, spiced blackberry, pomegranate and berry tonic; and Rosemary Apple Cider, with apple cider, ginger beer, muddled orange, maple syrup and apple cider vinegar.
Fresh handmade pasta and pizza pair excellently with… well, just about anything!
VIVO Italian Kitchen has taken their fresh-ingredient approach and blended it with its mocktail curation — making everything in-house. Assistant general manager Danny Estrella explains that some mocktails at VIVO are centered around the infusion of fruits and herbs, as well as the ignition of the senses with an aromatic adventure for your group. “We want to inspire guests to experience the flavors not only with their mouth but with their nose as well,” he says.
VIVO’s new mocktail menu includes Fragola Fresca, with muddled strawberries, balsamic, sage syrup and soda; the Limeade Lavanda, with lavender, lime juice and water; and Molto Bella, with raspberry purée, rosemary syrup and lemon juice.
Universal’s Great Movie Escape
If you are in search of something with floral flavor — and a wonderful purple aesthetic — the Hoverboard Highball is calling your name. With prickly pear syrup, lemon juice, lemon line soda and fresh mint, this Back to the Future-inspired beverage is not too sweet and became an instant favorite of ours.
The Nublar Cooler, made with fresh lime juice, agave nectar, pineapple juice, tonic and jalapeño slices. But be prepared — it comes with a rapturous kick! Order it if you are looking for refreshment and can tolerate the spice.
PRO TIP: You can order the beautiful best-selling Silent Era, which usually includes vodca, Kahlua, espresso and pistachio syrup, as a virgin drink.
With the introduction of the new mocktail menus at CityWalk, here is a list of additional spots and items you can taste for yourself:
o Paloma | Blood Orange Spritzer | Mangolada
o The Sweetest Ting | Tropical Fire | Jamaican Punch
o Simple Pleasures | Little Miss Magic | King of Somewhere Hot
o Winner’s Lemonade | Pineapple Spritz | The Orchard
o Mint Julep | Flying Mary | Maple Milk Punch
o Minty Gingy | Let’s Get it Poppin’ | Honey Bunch
Tah-dun… tah-dun… tah-dun-tah-dun-tah-dun… Ocean Attack’s less scary (and alcohol-free) alternative has made a splash. Shark Friendly has zero-proof blue curaçao, lemon lime soda and pineapple juice for a sweet choice with a fizzy punch. Located over at Fisherman’s Wharf in the San Francisco area of Universal Studios, Chez Alcatraz is an iconic outpost on the dock with a shark photo-op spot perfect for the fans.
Head over to Fast Food Boulevard for a Simpsons classic, the Flaming Moe! The hottest drink in Springfield, U.S.A. is a bubbling, citrusy, non-alcoholic indulgence. The popular walk-up counter offers many Simpsons-themed zero-proof drinks, including Mt. Swartzwelder Apple Drink, Groovy Grove Juice, and the Mr. Teeny.
I also suggest checking out some of our guest-favorite locations, such as our San Francisco waterfront Lombard’s Seafood Grille and New York Irish pub Finnegan’s Bar & Grill and request a virgin beverage.
Located at the Port of Entry of Islands of Adventure,Backwater Bar is a funky hole-in-the-wall to add to your list of must-dos. Be sure to get a virgin Islander with fresh raspberries and pineapple juice for a fruity escape. Another plus is being next door to Confisco Grille, where you can grab a savory bite – from ribs to nachos to sandwiches – paired with a refreshing Spicy Chocolate Strawberry Lassi, made with chocolate, strawberry, rose water, cinnamon nutmeg and yogurt with a bit of jalapeño.
This award-winning Mediterranean, Asian and American-fusion restaurant instantly transports you to a mythical period, where you can sit and marvel at its cavernous scape. Add this to your dining list for a grand experience.
Top off your meal with a creamy Mango Lassi, made with plain yogurt, mango nectar, mango syrup and a dried slice of mango on top, or Caravan Lassi, made with plain yogurt, rose water, Garam Masala pistachio syrup and Turkish delights. Want more? The Fruit Slush with banana daiquiri, strawberry daiquiri and piña colada is an absolute treat!
As you hotel hop across the resort, keep an eye out for my favorites! And if you end up at a different spot than those listed below, ask your bartender for possible mocktail options. I also recommend checking out Loews Sapphire Falls Resort’s Strong Water Tavern and Universal’s Aventura Hotel rooftop Bar 17 Bistro for bites and virgin drinks in a lively ambiance.
Look no further than Velvet Bar for a swanky atmosphere and evening of live music. This spot feels exclusive, boasting lounge seating and a bar indoors and outdoors.
To complement your intimate outing, indulge in the Pop, Rock & Drop It!, with fresh raspberries, lemon juice, simple syrup, soda and a candy-hardened rim of carbonated candy. The occasional sip will be met with popping candy in your mouth, adding a unique sweetness to a zesty drink.
Grab a seat on the veranda and feel like the rockstar you are with resort views and Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit in the distance.
Ahhh…dolce far niente. Splendido is the place to be and take in a moment at this Italian Riviera-themed hotel.
Grab your travel crew and bask in the sun from a poolside lounger on the sand or reset in the bar patio shade with an Electric Lemonade in hand, made with frozen lemonade and blue raspberry swirls. For all my frozen lemonade aficionados out there, this is the perfect thirst quencher for you, with its tartness and hint of sweet raspberry. If you want coastal views and an Instagram-worthy shot (even though the entire hotel is picturesque), head to the Harbor Piazza lined with gondolas and colorful buildings.
Take a step back into the ‘50s and ‘60s and bring your party to The Hideaway for a retro-style hangout – even in the middle of your park day. Facing a lazy river and pool, cool off with Beach You To It, with orange juice, strawberry purée, grenadine and cherries, for a fruity citrus flavor similar to a tequila sunrise without the liquor. Another fun option is Tropic Like It’s Hot, with pineapple juice and raspberry purée.
You can also take your drink to The Hideaway’s not-so-secret upstairs hideaway rooftop that gives an elevated view of the hotel and Volcano Bay. Bonus: There is a fire pit up there, too, for immaculate vibes.
Keep your eyes peeled for other neat spots and ask your bartender for more zero-proof options available wherever your day takes you. What was your favorite? Cheers!