Sydney's best non-alcoholic drinks for Dry July and beyond 2016

If you don't want to pick up a souvenir hangover, there are still great ways to drink fantastically - and it's possible to do so booze-free. Sydney's non-alcoholic options stretch far beyond unadventurously choosing between still or sparkling water.  

In no particular order, here are some of the best drops to try - whether it's Dry July or not.

A selection of Phil Gandevia's brilliant non-alcoholic pairings at Bentley Restaurant and Bar.
A selection of Phil Gandevia's brilliant non-alcoholic pairings at Bentley Restaurant and Bar. Photo: Christopher Pearce

Momofuku Seiobo

This is the OG home of juice pairings in Australia. The program was started by Noma alumni Ben Greeno and Clayton Wells and 2014 Sommelier of the Year Richard Hargreave. The beverages are not limited to blitzed fruit, though - current sommelier Ambrose Chiang has created an inspired menu that includes skin-contact, oxidised Granny Smith and Pink Lady apple juice, the full-ginger blast of fermented 'Gunner' soda (made with charred and caramelised ginger) and cloudy T Totaler Earl Grey tea that's beautifully spiked with tea caramel. 

The Star, 80 Pyrmont Street, Pyrmont, 02 9777 9000, seiobo.momofuku.com

Ambrose Chiang's inventive booze-free list ranges from cloudy French Earl grey tea with tea caramel to a Japanese-style watermelon drink with kombu.

Ambrose Chiang's inventive booze-free list ranges from cloudy French Earl grey tea to a Japanese-style watermelon drink with kombu. Photo: Edwina Pickles

PS40

This soda factory and cocktail bar proves that fizz isn't just the high-sugar rocket fuel that your parents feared during kids' parties. PS40's craft sodas can be used to amp up boozy drinks - but are stand-alone great. Try the smoked lemonade, which gets its punch and blaze from the fire-savvy team at LP's Quality Meats; rosemary, pink Margaret River salt and the citrus pep of lemon juice and zests balances out the char. It's a fine tribute to southern grilled lemonade. Try the spiced blackstrap ginger too.

2/40 King St, Sydney, ps-soda.com

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Quay

Assistant sommelier Alex Kirkwood used to work at Momofuku Seiobo, so he's ultra-skilled about proving you can have fun without booze. He works with chefs Peter Gilmore and Rob Kabboord to create a drinks menu that's as high-dazzle and creative as the three-hatted restaurant's dishes. An aperitif of house-made elderflower tonic is topped with a bracing flush of fresh cucumber and parsley juice - it's the best wake-up call. There's a ginger beer that's all exquisite creamy froth when first poured; a tea made with toasted rice grains, maple syrup and caramel that has the pow of an ultra-sweet dessert wine. And the Strawberries and Cream - made with frothed fruit, a touch of egg white and kaffir lime - is like all the confectionery aisle visits of your childhood being poured into a glass. 

Upper Level, Overseas Passenger Terminal, The Rocks, Sydney, 02 9251 5600, quay.com.au

Din Tai Fung

Dumplings and endearingly leaky teapots are a typical food-and-drink match; at Din Tai Fung, you can chase your xiao long bao with the Lychee Mint Freeze, a lively slushie made of lychee fruit, syrup and crushed ice. It's so popular that the dumpling house has sold more than 100,000 of the drinks and it's the best-selling non-alcoholic beverage. Worth a try is the Yuzu Peach Freeze, made with ice, blitzed peaches and sweetened with yuzu jam and peach syrup. This summer-only addition outlasted its original residency because it was so popular. 

Outlets in Chippendale, Chatswood, Miranda, North Sydney, Pyrmont, Sydney, dintaifung.com.au

Gelato Messina's  dessert degustation venue is as creative with drinks as it is with its frozen treats.

Gelato Messina's dessert degustation venue is also worth checking out for its drinks. Photo: Supplied

Messina Creative Department

Gelato Messina's Creative Department is not just fixated with creating spectacular frozen wonders for its dessert degustation - the non-booze match is just as imaginative. The rotating list has included buckwheat capuccino with amaretto reduction and burnt caramel, roast pumpkin juice, orange poke tea made in a coffee siphon and the fantastic oak barrel bourbon caramel milk.

243 Victoria Street, Darlinghurst, 1800 435 286, gelatomessina.com/au/creativedepartment 

Chatkazz

This popular Indian restaurant has a quirky fast-food feel - and mixes Mumbai street snacks with Indian pizzas and Chinese-inspired dishes. If you think it doesn't work, the packed tables will prove you wrong. Just as diverse is its drinks lists, which includes a standout ​masala chaas, a bracing buttermilk beverage laced with black salt, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, mint powder and mint leaves. The mango lassi is thick enough to test the suction power of your straw. And you can order cumin soda if you're unafraid of fizz that's had a run-in with the spice rack.

Shop 4-6/14-20 Station Street East, Harris Park, 02 8677 0033, chatkazz.com.au

Thu Phung Sugar Cane Coffee Desserts

If you thought a fruit bowl was boring, than head to Cabramatta - where you can get thick avocado shakes or smoothies made with custard apple and other tropical delights. But above all, make a pilgrimage to Thu Phung's tiny sugarcane juice stand which sells a knockout version of the Vietnamese drink. The pressed juice is streamed through cumquats and chunks of ice - even on the coldest Sydney days, one sip is enough to make you feel like summer has started. 

Shop 2/50 Park Road, Cabramatta, 02 9723 7921, facebook.com/Thu-Phung-Sugar-Cane-Coffee-Desserts

The Rabbit Hole Organic Tea Bar has an inventive range of brews.

Brews are not boring at The Rabbit Hole Organic Tea Bar. Photo: Madeye Photography

The Rabbit Hole Organic Tea Bar

Where else can you get tea that tastes like tiramisu, Turkish delight or toffee apple? Anyone who thinks tea is limited to a dunked teabag and slapdash pour of scalding water will be brilliantly corrected by Rabbit Hole's range, which spans from on-tap tea sodas, "dirty" coffee-charged chai and tea mocktails (such as Green Apple & Sencha Sours or a Ginger Goddress).

146 Abercrombie Street, Redfern, 02 9310 2207; Shop 1, 23 Barangaroo Avenue, 02 9045 3756, therabbithole.com.au

Boon Cafe

Boon lives up to its name with its thirst-destroying bounty of drinks: iced matcha blitzed with coconut; lemongrass and pandan tisanes; "blended" drinks that are slushie-style delights (in strawberry, lychee and other tropic-charged flavours) and a green juice that even the most #cleaneating-averse would actually embrace (it's made with pennywort, dandelions, blanched kale, passionfruit and Dan Hong is a certified fan of it). And it's one of the few places where you can get a decent tea (or turmeric and honey Goldilocks latte) before midnight.  

425 Pitt Street, Haymarket, 02 9281 2114, booncafe.com

The desert lime and wood sorrel spritz kickstarts Bentley's non-alcoholic pairings.

The desert lime and wood sorrel spritz kickstarts Bentley's non-alcoholic pairings. Photo: Christopher Pearce

Bentley Restaurant and Bar

Bentley is known for its overachieving, much-acclaimed wine list, but Phil Gandevia's non-booze matches are also a knockout. His menu is one of the must-try Sydney drinking experiences. His ultra-imaginative creations include a wattleseed and West Indian spice buttermilk, a smoked apple and verjus drink you'd want shots of, and the Aloha - a pandan-infused aloe vera and pineapple juice with Thai basil that everyone should say hello to. The Lemonade Stall in Tokyo may sound entirely suspicious (it's made with lemonade fruit, wasabi vinegar and olive brine), but it is a next-level surprise and genuinely delightful.  

Corner Pitt and Hunter streets, Sydney, 02 8214 0505, thebentley.com.au

Phil Gandevia smoking the rosemary for the smoked apple and verjus drink.

Phil Gandevia smoking the rosemary for the smoked apple and verjus drink. Photo: Christopher Pearce

Phil Gandevia's tips for creating your own non-alcoholic matches at home

"Anything that you think you can put on a plate, you can put in a glass," he says. So try these ideas.

  • When you're making your mushroom risotto and you're using your good quality porcini mushrooms, take your mushroom stock that's left over and season it with rosemary and wintry herbs. Serve it out of a teapot.
  • Say you're doing a crab or seafood dish, you can certainly make a juice component that would be like a bisque. Juice some tomatoes, some carrots, some celery, maybe add a light tea infusion instead of your fish stock or water component.
  • Take a whole heap of rosemary, set it on fire, throw it into the apple juice. Use responsibily.
  • When cooking a fish on the barbecue, take some lemon and rosemary sprigs and throw them on the barbecue, too. Juice the lemons, add the smoked rosemary, add maybe a Rooibos tea and you've got a home-made iced tea that has flavours that will work with the fish.