Review: Ocsober Launch & Mocktail Making Workshop

Every year it seems we have an ever growing number of months dedicated to telling us to take a break from drinking. Dry July, Febfast and Ocsober already occupy a quarter of the calendar. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Noboozevember popping up soon. Thus it was with some apprehension that I accepted an invitation to attend the Launch of Ocsober at Cruise Bar recently. I accepted the invitation as Ocsober is something I’ve attempted to do (unofficially) for the past 3 years. I say attempted. In 2008 I made it through the whole month and felt great. I lost 4kgs and had more energy than ever. In 2009 I lasted a week, and last year I lasted 10 days. Not particularly spectacular results by any stretch of the imagination.

As I had previously participated unofficially, I was unaware of Ocsober’s affiliation. Was I going to be walking into a teetotaller’s convention? Was I going to be lectured on the evils of alcohol? Were they going to be wearing funny robes? My apprehension quickly lifted as I entered the event and started chatting to the other attendees. Ocsober is an initiative spearheaded by Life Education Australia. If you are under 35 you may remember Life Education from your primary school days. The white caravan, TAM and of course Healthy Harold.

Welcome Mocktail: Tongan Juice

Life Education Australia was founded in Sydney in 1979 and has since expanded to 13 countries around the world. Michelle Lansdown from Life Education Australia was on hand to talk about the organisation. One of the things she said that really resonated with me is that the purpose of the organisation is not to pass judgement or to tell kids not to do things. It’s to educate them about the effects that certain behaviours can have on the body and to empower them to make their own wise choices. Likewise, the driver behind Ocsober is not some motherhood statement about abstinence, but a chance to look at how much we drink and spark a conversation about it.

So why was I walking into a bar to attend the launch of an event called Ocsober? Luis Bruce, Cruise Bar’s master mixologist and celebrity trainer Michelle Bridges were going to be demonstrating their mocktail recipes and serving them to the crowd. Luis was first up behind the bar and gave some great cocktail/mocktail making tips along the way. Here’s a tip. If you’re using a Boston Shaker (the type with one glass and one metal cup) you should always prepare the cocktail in the glass cup. Metal shrinks when it cools so if you try making it in the metal cup, you’ll never get the shaker undone.

Michelle Bridges

First up was a King’s Ginger. This mocktail is actually named after a liqueur commissioned for King Edward VII in 1903 to help warm and revive him after he indulged in one of his preferred pursuits, driving his ‘horseless carriage’.  Luis’ modern day interpretation contained apple juice, ginger beer, fresh lime and a dash of bitters. This was finished off with a lime wheel twist and some freshly grated ginger. I’m not a fan of overtly sweet drinks so this one hit all the right notes for me although when I try making this one at home I might kick it up a gear by adding some kaffir lime leaves and finely julienned red chilli.

Next up was a Pineapple & Mint Martini. Here, fresh chunks of pineapple were muddled with mint, shaken over ice with pineapple juice and raw sugar and strained into a glass. Luis recommended using granulated sugar rather than fine sugar in cocktails as it tears at any fruit or leaves in the cocktail to release more juice and flavour. This cocktail was semi sweet, but not too cloying. The mint works really well with the pineapple and the brown sugar tempers the acidity of the pineapple.

King's Ginger

A Lychee & Passionfruit Crush was next. Lychees, chunks of lime, passionfruit pulp and raw sugar were muddled together and topped up with apple juice. This one was a little on the sweet side for me but I can appreciate how those with a sweet tooth may enjoy it.

Trainer Michelle Bridges was next up behind the bar with her low calorie creation the Berry & Lime Mocktail. Blackberries, raspberries, strawberries were muddled with fresh lime and topped up with a small amount of sugar syrup (50% water and 50% sugar boiled together then cooled) and charged with soda water. I didn’t get to try this one but judging by the reactions of those who did, it was pretty tasty.

Click through here for the full recipes

So why do Ocsober? Well, if you’re like me you may have put a few kilos on over winter. It’s a great chance to detox, lose weight and get into shape before the party season. You’ll save money and most importantly you’ll be raising money for a good cause. Even if you don’t do it, consider cutting back over the month of October, (I know I will be) making a donation to Life Education Australia or sponsoring a friend who is participating. Most importantly, if you do know someone who is participating, be supportive. 31 days without alcohol can be hard!


To find out more about or to register for Ocsober visit:

Life Education Australia

To read more about the work of Life Education Australia or to make a donation visit:

Cruise Bar

Level 1-3 Overseas Passenger Terminal
Circular Quay West
The Rocks,Sydney NSW 2000

02 9251 1188

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Author:Jeremy Bowell

Jeremy Bowell is the founder and editor of Taste Explorer. He also writes for,, and has featured in the Sydney Morning Herald's Good Living section. He is an avid connoisseur of all things food and drink related.