Mocktail challenge ignites employee creativity

A participant from Embassy Tirana photographs their competing drinks for the virtual mocktail challenge. Photo courtesy of Embassy Tirana
A participant from Embassy Tirana photographs their competing drinks for the virtual mocktail challenge. Photo courtesy of Embassy Tirana

By Karina Guzman

In April, for Alcohol Awareness Month, the Bureau of Medical Service’s  Wellness Program and Employee Consultation Services’s Alcohol and Drug Awareness Program partnered to host a virtual challenge called, “Beyond Club Soda & Water: A Virtual Mocktail Challenge.” In the last few years, mocktails—a non-alcoholic or zero-proof mixed drink that replicates the presentation of alcoholic craft cocktails—have gained popularity for a variety of reasons, including the rise of health and wellness movements. The challenge aimed to highlight the trend and encourage Department of State employees to get creative while sharing their favorite non-alcoholic libations.

To participate, individuals and teams were asked to choose from three categories: classic mocktail, international mocktail, or low sugar mocktail; submit a picture or video of them making the mocktail; and include a list of the ingredients. 

Some took the challenge a step further. At Embassy Lusaka, the Talent Care Committee and Health Unit hosted a “Mocktail Hour” featuring four mocktails to be put up to a vote. More than 50 people voted on which one would be their submission. Similarly, the Health Unit in Tirana held a mocktail party for employees to sample some of their recipes. Domestically, the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor’s Office of Security and Human Rights experimented with dozens of mocktails inspired by their diverse team before submitting their top three to the contest. Overall, a total of 16 mocktail recipes were entered and 523 employees voted on their favorite recipe for each category.

In the classic mocktail category, the winner was the Fruity Flamingo Mocktail entered by Team 325. Specialists Susan Dubois, Kristin Foye, Angel Fuller, Villa V. Janson, Peter Koster, Travis Parsons, and Day Thompson, along with Supervisor Greta Flaherty from the National Passport Center in Portsmouth, N.H., submitted this classic drink featuring pineapple juice, lime flavored sparkling water, blueberries, a splash of blueberry juice, freshly squeezed lime juice, and lime slices. 

For international mocktail, the winner was the Sunset Mocktail that was entered by Management and Program Analyst Megan Kuhn. This drink, which Kuhn modified from a drink called “Flu fighter sunshine smoothie,” features navel oranges or orange juice, fresh raspberries, ginger beer, and fresh lemon juice.

In the low-sugar mocktail category, the U.S. Consulate General in Rio de Janeiro’s consular section submitted a drink called the Clericot Fake News. A combination of coconut water, lime juice, tonic water, thin lemon slices, green grapes, fresh mint, and ice made up this winning mocktail.

Overall, this challenge brought employees together in a fun, creative way while encouraging good health and wellness. 

“It was really fun seeing the unique and creative drinks submitted by our employees, while bringing awareness to alcohol-free drinks! This was our first year hosting a Department-wide mocktail challenge and we were so excited to see how much thought and detail was put into each mocktail entry. From the video tutorials to the creative mocktail names and the local ingredients—one recipe even included foraged flowers from their backyard! We definitely plan to host this again next year!” said Karina Guzman from the Bureau of Medical Services’ Wellness Program. 

All mocktail recipes submitted to the challenge can be viewed here (internal link).

Karina Guzman is the health education specialist for the Bureau of Medical Services’ Wellness Program.

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