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In the past, going alcohol-free meant that you were stuck ordering sugar-filled mocktails or bland sodas during happy hours and nights out. Now, thankfully, for those who are looking to cut down on their consumption, there are plenty of high-quality non-alcoholic options that can be just as good as the real thing.
Global sales of no- and low- alcohol beverages are on the rise, and consumption of these products is expected to increase by 31% by 2024. Of course, this also comes at a time when we’ve seen a worrying increase in drinking rates, as people have turned to alcohol to help cope with the continual stress caused by the pandemic.
If you’ve noticed a concerning pattern or simply want to cut down on your consumption, stocking your cabinets with non-alcoholic options can be a good place to start.
“So much of our drinking is habit — just reaching into the fridge and grabbing a drink,” said Millie Gooch, author of “The Sober Girl Society Handbook” and founder of the Sober Girl Society, a community for sober women. “When you’ve got a fridge full of alternatives, it’s much easier to have one of those, potentially settle the craving and get through the initial stress trigger. And that might be enough.”
Plus, with the wide array of options on the market, you can make drinks that are just as interesting and complex as a well-made cocktail.
"Alcohol-free cocktails should be just as fun and sophisticated as their boozy counterparts," said Chris Marshall, the founder of Sans Bar, a sober bar in Austin, Texas. "Invest in quality spirits, shrubs, mixers, and barware. It may be a bit of an expense, but having the right supplies on hand makes it easy to create an interesting and complex non-alcoholic drink."
As with any drink, you want to create balance, Marshall said. "Consider adding a bit of sour to sweet drinks or build your beverage with a tea base and layer fresh herbs and fruits on top. The flavor possibilities are endless."
To get you started, we rounded up the top-rated and expert-approved non-alcoholic options to shop now.
Editor's note: While some of these options have trace amounts of alcohol, they all contain less than .5% alcohol by volume and are considered non-alcoholic by the Food and Drug Administration.
If you've made any foray into the world of non-alcoholic drinking, you've likely seen this brand. "I have been a fan of Seedlip since they came onto the market a few years ago," said Julia Momose, a mixologist and creative director of Kumiko in Chicago. "The flavors are well-developed and when mixed with a little sugar and a little acid, the profiles really shine."
Garden 108 is one of their three popular flavors. The spirit is made from a blend of peas and herbs like rosemary, thyme and spearmint. The zero-calorie blend can be added to a mocktail or sipped on its own.
Ritual Tequila is one of the most beloved products at Sans Bar. “The golden hue, notes of agave, charred oak and bright Mexican lime make it the perfect stand-in for making spicy mockaritas," Marshall said.
The Oregon-based distilling company Wilderton offers two botanical-based spirits, but Marshall said the Earthen spirit is “a true game changer.” Pine-smoked tea, white peppercorns and cardamom are vacuum distilled to create the beverage, which the brand says pairs well with orange juice, apple cider, ginger beer or warm tea. “Brimming with smoke and spice notes that make it a delicious departure from anything else on the market,” he said.
“This is our go-to game day brew,” Marshall said. “This 0.0 offering strikes the perfect balance between Midwest malts and bright citrus-forward West Coast hops.”
More than just a non-alcoholic substitute, Kin makes what they call "euphorics." Don't worry, they won't get you high. The beverages are filled with plants and herbs, adaptogens (substances like mushrooms and saffron, purported to help your body handle stress) and nootropics (supplements that are said to provide a mental boost). Each of their offerings blends the three elements into a cocktail alternative. The Kin Spritz, their bubbly option, is a sparkling blend of citrus, hibiscus and ginger.
Fans of Negronis will appreciate this option, which the brand says is an ode to the classic cocktail. With pomegranate and orange juice and adaptogens, it's described as a bitter and complex blend, nothing like the sugary drinks you picture when you hear the word "mocktail." It's recommended that you serve over rocks, with an orange slice or twist.
Are you a fan of bubbly but not the sugar-induced hangover? One way to embrace the spirit of Champagne, sans the alcohol, is with TÖST's sparkling beverage. Made with white tea, cranberry and ginger, it provides that similar crisp and refreshing taste that you crave during celebrations or sunny days.
Inspired by the Mediterranean aperitivo culture, Ghia’s non-alcoholic aperitif is made with plant and herbal extracts, such as elderflower, lemon balm and orange peel. They recommend that you serve chilled with your favorite bubbly mixer, though they have plenty of fun recipes on their site for those looking for inspiration.
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