Booze-free beers, a phony negroni and 10 other actually good non-alcoholic drinks for Dry January
All of the taste, none of the hangover
Historically, non-alcoholic drinks have been less-than-delicious and slightly childish, boring or too-sweet alternatives for those who are sober, designated drivers or pregnant. Thankfully, this is no longer the case: zero-proof wine, beer, cocktails and bubbly have a lot to offer anyone who cares to abstain—be it for a night, a month or a lifetime. Whether you’re driving, dedicated to Dry January or just trying to avoid a hangover, these drinks have you covered.
For cocktail fans cutting out the sauce, Brooklyn-based amaro expert St. Agrestis makes a highly convincing zero-proof negroni. It’s ruby-red, packed with all the bitter and bold botanicals of the classic aperitivo, and sold in single-serving bottles. Simply open and pour over ice.
Those without a sweet tooth will dig Burdock’s two new savoury sparkling waters made with pickle brine and kimchi. Not a fan of funk? The brewery also makes an excellent zero-proof IPA called Swishh.
These bubbly bottles of sparkling beverages toe the line between champagne and snazzy soda. The bubbles are tight and sophisticated like those of a sparkling wine, but the flavours are more fun—think sparkling white tea with cranberry and ginger or a rosé-ish raspberry and ginger option. All come in party-ready 750-mL bottles or single servings. Anyone not totally abstaining can top up a regular spritz with zero-proof bubbles to take the drink’s ABV down a notch.
This non-alcoholic beer brand was founded by a Canadian who realized, after a Crohn’s diagnosis, that there was a dearth of actually drinkable near beer on the market. Now, Partake specializes in a lineup of low-cal, alcohol-removed craft beer that includes a lager, a blonde, a hazy IPA and even a stout. And it’s all very drinkable, if not chuggable.
An easy way to spice up sparkling water is to add a few dashes of bitters: aromatics made with botanicals and designed to bring out the best in cocktails. But most bitters are made with a bit of alcohol too. Fortunately, these ones (created by a pair of former French Laundry sommeliers) are completely zero-proof. Available at Cocktail Emporium.
This women-owned Toronto-based beverage company isn’t trying to make booze pretenders—but their sugar- and gluten-free sparkling waters (in flavours like cantaloupe mint, passionfruit rosemary and grapefruit basil) have a decidedly non-alcoholic cocktail quality to them. Bonus: each can contains five grams of pre-biotic fibre. Giddy up.
The focus of Nonny’s non-alcoholic beers is crushability. The brand’s zesty pale ales and Czech pilsners are aromatic, flavorful and easy-drinking—perfect for park hangs come warmer weather.
Seedlip was one of the first zero-proof spirits to hit the market. Almost a decade later, the British brand now boasts four flavors, including a tequila dupe. Evelyn Chick, owner of Simpl Things, leans on these spirit-free spirits in her placebo cocktails. “Having a good base is the key to having successful non-alcoholic drinks,” she says. “And the Seedlip range covers all flavour profiles—orange, clove, lemongrass, even rosemary and pea.”
“I like good-quality sparkling wine, so I always reach for Odd Bird Brut,” says Chick. “You can’t even tell it’s non-alcoholic.” The bottles follow the path of regular-proof wines, made from Chardonnay and Colombard grapes grown in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France and matured for 12 months before the alcohol is removed.
Another British brand, Lyre’s focuses on replicating the flavours of regular-proof spirits in zero-proof iterations. But they don’t just make non-alcoholic gin and vodka: along with those standards, they offer coffee liqueurs, spiced rums, aperitifs and any other liqueur or spirit you could possibly miss.
For anyone looking to keep their drinking hand busy during weekend getaways this winter, Bellwoods makes a tangy dry-hopped sour sans alcohol—yes, a zero-proof version of their famous Jelly King. It offers all the juicy tropical fruit and light hops the beer’s fervent fans are accustomed to.
This Toronto-based company started as a side project for flavour evangelists Acid League, makers of creative vinegars, hot sauces and other pantry staples. Proxies has since evolved into a full-fledged lineup of wine-like beverages; bottles that don’t replicate Chardonnays or Cabernets but build flavours using teas, botanicals, juices and other seasonal ingredients to make fancy drinks meant to be sipped out of stemware. They also come in cans now, so the sparkling rosés can be tossed in a tote and hauled to a party or the park. Bonus: you’ll make it to your morning meeting/spin class/play date headache-free.