Virgin cocktail recipes for Dry October with Borrago

Adam Lowe

When you don’t drink – or can’t drink – cocktail parties are difficult affairs. Dry October, then, can be a gruelling month.

There’s a social pressure to join in the fun and the sight of other people enjoying a tasty tipple can make saying no even harder. Finding a drink that’s just as refreshing, without the drawbacks associated with alcohol, is a challenge I often face. Thus I was ecstatic when I got too try Borrago #47 Paloma Blend and realised it’s a really enjoyable non-alcoholic spirit.

Six steam-distilled botanicals give this flowery bottled Borrago its unique flavour. A complex taste, this gin-like drink has a luscious bouquet and notes of citrus, spice and pepper. Rosemary and cardamom are included, although the exact concoction remains a trade secret, and I was a fan from the first sniff. It’s really an inviting smell that you won’t get with mixers alone.

Named after borage, the bright blue edible flower, Borrago is a real delight, and as Borrago carries none of the sugar, calories or alcohol you can drink it guilt-free at any time of day! It’s great in cocktails – as you’ll see below – but also served simply with your favourite tonic.

Whether you’re the designated driver, are on a diet, or are teetotal, Borrago is a great addition to your drinks cabinet.

What’s more, Borrago supports bees! Borage is known as the bee flower and hives form an important part of the Borrago story. As well as pollinating fruit and vegetables, they pollinate many of the botanicals used to make Borrago. So Borrago is doing its bit to help and our Borrago came with a pack of borage seeds to plant in our back garden (which my gardener partner loved!).

You can find out more about the Borrago hive by following #BorragoBees on social media.


What follows are some delicious cocktails that really make good use of the floral notes and subtle spiciness of Borrago. Some of them rely on basil syrup or basil tonic. We include a recipe for both below.

Basil syrup

Mix 100g of sugar (or 50g of stevia), 50ml water and 50g washed basil leaves. Bring to a simmer on medium heat in a saucepan. Let the sugar or stevia comptely dissolve. Cool completely, before sieving. This can be stored in the fridge for up to week. There are multiple uses for leftovers. Firstly, it can be added to mixers, homemade ice lollies or jellies, chilled water and teas. Secondly, it can be poured over waffles, ice cream and desserts.

Basil tonic

You can make a basil tonic by blending 100ml tonic water with 50g fresh basil leaves and straining the liquid afterwards. We’ve found frozen basil has the extra benefit of chilling the tonic water too. Infusing a few leaves in a bottle of tonic should also work, but you need to be aware that once the bottle is opened, it will begin to lose its fizz. If you’re pressed for time, use normal tonic water and add a touch more basil syrup.

Hint: you can also cheat and buy Lamb & Watt’s Basil Tonic Water, which is available from Ocado or Amazon.

The Borrago Signature Serve

  • 25ml Borrago #47 Paloma Blend
  • 150ml quality tonic of your choice
  • quarter orange slices and crushed basil

Pour the Borrago over ice and top up with tonic.

Clap the basil between your hands to release the aromas, add quarter orange slices and a borage flower if you have one.

Borrago Green Fizz

A zombie-green cocktail that is an absolute treat, and without any alcohol.

  • 25ml Borrago #47 Paloma Blend
  • 25ml lemon juice (fresh is best!)
  • 25ml basil syrup
  • 2 fresh basil sprigs

Shake well over ice.  Double strain into a glass loaded with crushed ice and garnish with a large sprig of basil and a borage flower if you have one.

Forraging Borrago

  • 35ml Borrago #47 Paloma Blend
  • 25ml pink grapefruit juice
  • 20ml charred lemon juice
  • 15ml basil syrup
  • double Dutch pomegranate
  • basil tonic

Measure everything except for the tonic into a shaker with ice. Mix well and strain into a wine glass over more ice. Top up with tonic. Garnish with a dehydrated blood orange or pink grapefruit slice, and a borage flower if you have one.

Borrago has an RRP of £19.99 for 500ml, available from and Find them on Twitter @BorragoDrinks.

About Adam Lowe

Adam Lowe is an award-winning author, editor and publisher from Leeds, now based in Manchester. He runs Dog Horn Publishing and is Director and Writing Coordinator for Young Enigma, a writer development programme for LGBT young people. He sometimes performs as Beyonce Holes.