I do not drink alcohol, but I tend to stick with water, sparkling water, or tea since I’m not a fan of sweetened beverages. That said, I do like ordering salted plum soda or fresh lime soda at Vietnamese restaurants, which are quite refreshing. My favorite aguas frescas are melon, sandia, and tamarindo. If there are shrubs or vinegar sodas on the menu I sometimes give them a try (like at Gjusta). At bars I often ask for a dash of bitters in my soda water for a little flavor (which have a trace amount of alcohol). Curious to find out the recommendations of others.
Any of their Aguas Frescas - Don’t sleep on Chef Wes Avila’s Housemade Aguas Frescas. They are not listed on the menu (just ask them what they have that day). Their Yuzu Pineapple Agua Fresca (Yuzu Juice & Pineapple Juice, Cane Sugar, Lime) is still one of the most outstanding Aguas Frescas I’ve had in recent memory (@Dommy@JeetKuneBao and others).
Also a bitters in club soda person. If they have orange bitters (or anything else exotic bitter wise, which they often include in drink descriptions on the regular cocktail menu), that is worth trying with club soda as well.
I really like the vanilla bean limeade at Sqirl. I also can’t resist ordering a limeade at any Vietnamese restaurant. If a place has fresh squeezed lemonade or limeade (not the Minute Maid fountain stuff), I will almost always order it.
I also love bubble tea/boba even though it’s so sugary (Iorder it less sweet now!) but a lot of it is nostalgia too, remembering to back in high school and college, sitting with my friends for hours at a boba shop (with no responsibilities except for homework, LOL). I really like the ube halaya drink at Boba Guys.
On weekends at Echo Park Lake, there’s a guy that has an agua fresca stand with like 8 different kinds. $4 for a large (looks like 24 oz, it’s huge) and I usually get watermelon, passionfruit or strawberry.
Ah yes!!! Soda Chanh is one of my favorite things too. But I suck those down too easy. The best one I’ve had in recent memory was from Pho Hue Oi in Redondo. But that is because I haven’t been to little Saigon in ages (hence the reason Cococane isn’t on my list… I just know I would love it…)
I seldom drink, so I really appreciate this thread. Here are some things that I haven’t yet seen mentioned:
On the high-end:
Cassia makes a couple cocktails with Seedlip that are non-alch and great.
Bavel’s housemade ginger beer was terrific. Would go back just for that!
Cassell’s housemade tamarind soda(!) brought back memories of the Pok Pok drinking vinegars mentioned upthread. It was excellent and a great foil to a patty melt.
On the affordable-ish end:
The Fizzy Hoppy Tea at any of the Go Get Em Tiger locations has been a standby for many years. Citra hops and carbonated black tea. It’s a unique and delicious experience.
Calamansi soda at Sari Sari Store.
Any of the agua frescas that y’all have mentioned.
Ask for the Barista’s “Signature Drink” at any of the Demitasse coffee locations. If the barista has one, it’ll definitely be a fun and unique experience. Gatlin at the Little Tokyo location once made me something that was like an espresso-watermelon-slush. Sounds weird, tasted amazing.
[Also this last tip isn’t LA-specific, but if you ever find yourself in Portland, go to Either/Or for their amazing mocktails section, complete with some coffee-based beverages that will blow. your. mind.]
Thanks for the link! Dryuary is part of what made me think of this subject, also. That’s cool Dave Arnold offers non-alcoholic drinks at Existing Conditions. He did answer a question about mocktails in an episode of Cooking Issues a year or so ago that showed he puts a lot of thought into them. Would love to try his drinks but might have to settle for the Seedlip products you mentioned!