Whenever Friday night comes around, I’m always a victim of FOMO. Whether I’m avoiding alcohol just to take a break, or I’m DD-ing everyone home at the end of the night, being around people with cocktails makes my lime Perrier seem, well, lame. Mock-Ups Mocktails are the next best thing when it comes to enjoying a drink without all of the responsibilities that come along with alcohol. When I discovered this company, I was instantly curious about the products. It’s safe to say that I was ready to ditch the burning sensation of warm tequila and the oh-so-dreadful wine hangover and introduce mocktails into my night-out routine instead.
Mock-Ups’ Edmonton-based creator and graphic designer, JoAnne H. Pearce, along with partner Andrew Paul, created something so special over the past year. It all started back in October 2021, when Pearce took part in an alcohol-free challenge. After experimenting with Halloween-themed mocktails, creating new ways to mix drinks, and feeling better overall, she carried on the challenge by staying sober. As she started uploading images of her products online, Pearce’s previous love for photography and design was once again sparked, and Mock-Ups was born.
Each bottle is made completely by hand and contains all-natural and booze-free ingredients, beautiful artwork on the front, and a glimpse into what the world of mocktails is really like. From the illustrations by Canadian artist Amy Freeland (@a.freeland.illustration), to the drink collaboration with Keenan Pascal from Token Bitters (@keenanpascal), Mock-Ups’ goal to stay local proves that the company is more than just a business, but also a part of the community. I could tell from the first sip that each and every bottle is made with so much love.
As well as the bottled mixes, they offer two recipe books with tips and tricks, and beautifully designed pages, so you’re never left wondering how to make drinks. There is truly a unique recipe for each individual, so why not ditch the boring Arnold Palmers and step up your bartender game with these non-alcoholic recipes? Just because it’s zero-proof doesn’t mean it has to taste like juice. “When my friends’ kids try these and they don’t like them, I feel like I’ve kind of done my job,” says Pearce, “It’s not meant for kids, it’s meant for grown ups.” Mock-Ups: Mocktails for Grown-Ups, Vol. I & II ($15 each) are so much more than just a look into making new drinks. They allow readers to imagine a whole new world of mixology, flavour pairing, and creative beverages, entirely free of booze.
Two different drinks are available to purchase through the website or local retailers like Maven and Grace and Everything Wine and More. The sangria ($20), made with Haskap berries, and warm mulled wine ($20), full of chai spice bitters, were both delicious. They perfectly substituted a sugary and alcohol-filled cocktail, and made for a great evening drink in their wine-like ways.
After trying Mock-Ups Mocktails for the first time, I was really surprised. It didn’t taste purely like juice or have a fake aftertaste like I was expecting; instead, it was full of flavour and produced a sort of personality. It was truly unlike any non-alcoholic drink that I’d ever had before. Mocktails can definitely get a bad rep, and I think that’s something that we need to overwrite. “We need better options for non-drinkers,” Pearce says, and that’s exactly what they created with their two bottles.
In the future, Pearce hints, customers should keep an eye out for a new store location with even more products to come. “We’re just getting started”, she says, “The bottled mocktails tell their story… but we want to get into (hard) cocktails as well.” The mocktails movement is extremely popular right now, but what makes Mock-Ups so special is it’s authenticity. The countless hours of preparation, their hand-zested lemons and fresh ingredients in each batch, and the support of small businesses all play into this company’s success.
Whether you’re sober, on a fitness journey, cutting out alcohol as an experiment, or just want to try something new, a Mock-Ups mocktail is the drink for you. For more information on everything that Mock-Ups offers, including purchasing products and learning about the industry, check out their website, YouTube channel, or follow them on Instagram.