14 best alcohol-free drinks
Banishing the booze? The market for tee-total tipples is ever-growing, we've picked out the strongest contenders
Whether you’re the designated driver, an expectant mother, or are simply trying to cut down on your booze intake – there’s never been a greater demand for grown-up, non-alcoholic alternatives. Sickly sweet softies will no longer cut it, and thankfully, they no longer need to, as more and more brands begin to listen to our needs.
Ocado have reported that sales of non-alcoholic wine have increased by 42 per cent so far this year, with sales of no and low spirits and beers soaring by 87 per cent. With alcohol-free alternatives becoming mainstream, and with events such as Sober October and Dry January just around the corner, there’s no better time to get reacquainted with your drinks trolley.
Here we have found the best alternatives to your favourite spirits, wine and beer. So, whatever you’re favourite tipple, you’re not going to feel short changed going booze-free. Instead of people asking why you’re not drinking, they might start asking why they are.
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Seedlip Grove 42 70cl: £24.74, Amazon
The original rule breakers, Seedlip were one of the first to disrupt the soft drinks industry and in the process completely redefined what we could expect from a non-alcoholic beverage. Grove 42 is the third flavour in the range, this time crafted from a citrusy blend of juicy oranges from the Mediterranean, zingy lemon peel, ginger and lemongrass. Japanese sansho peppercorn also gives this drink the grown up kick that we’ve come to expect from Seedlip.
They recommend serving with soda water and a twist of orange peel, but it will work well in place of gin in many cocktails. Free of sugar, sweeteners and calories, this is a godsend if you’re watching your weight.
Pri Secco Organic Cuvée Nr 29 Alcohol Free 37.5cl: £7, Abel & Cole
Produced in southwest Germany’s Swabian region by former winemaker Jorg, this mini bottle of alcohol-free wine is a great alternative to the real thing. The base is a mix of heritage apple and pear varieties, with added herbs, spices and flowers (most obviously roses), foraged from the local area. The result is a complex drink with delicate bubbles, similar in flavour to a top-notch cider – serve in a proper wine glass for the full effect.
Nosecco Alcohol Free 75cl: £2.99, Ocado
We had to do a double take before we realised this bottle contained no alcohol, it looks just like any other bottle of fizz. Once in the glass the imitation continues, with a similar pale golden colour and the same light fizz that you’d expect from the real thing. It’s slightly sweet, just like prosecco and is guaranteed to get the party going in place of your regular aperitif.
Monte Rosso Non-Alchoholic Apéritif 275ml: £2.55, Waitrose & Partners
If the bitter sweet taste of Campari and soda is your drink of choice, allow us to introduce Monte Rosso. This non-alcoholic aperitif has the same bold orange-red hue and, served over ice, looks every inch like the sophisticated Italian tipple. Each bottle contains 94 calories and can be drunk as is, although it lends itself well to cocktails as well.
Thomas & Evans No.1 275ml: £2.31, Ocado
Soft drinks don’t often come with such a long list of impressive ingredients, but there’s more than 20 in each bottle of Thomas & Evans, including apple, elderflower, citrus peel and oak tincture. The base is a refreshing green fruit juice that has been filtered through silver birch charcoal (we told you it was impressive). This sparkling softie is a real thirst quencher – not too sweet but most definitely complex enough to appeal to grown-ups.
Ceder’s Classic Non-Alcoholic Spirit 50cl: £20, The Whisky Exchange
A visit to the Western Cape in South Africa inspired husband-and-wife duo Craig and Maria to create this sophisticated alt-gin (she also happened to be pregnant at the time). Infusing the natural botanicals they’d discovered on their trip with the pristine Swedish water from Maria’s home country, the result is a distinctly juniper-led drink with a hint of floral aromas, albeit without the alcohol. Serve with premium tonic and garnish with lemon and rosemary, just as you would with your favourite gin.
Pimento Ginger 250ml: £12.49 for 10, Aqua Amore
If you miss the burn of hard liquor, this fiery little number might go some way to replace it. Bitter orange, aromatic oregano and hot pepper is added to the ginger base, before being carbonated. Expect a fruity aromatic hit on the nose, and a long, slow burn from the chilli. Despite this it actually works well with food – most notably Asian cuisine.
Big Drop Pale Ale 0.5% 330ml: £1.89, Beer Hawk
A brewery dedicated to producing alcohol-free beer may sound counterintuitive, but Big Drop have made a name for themselves doing exactly that. The range includes a stout, spiced ale and a lager – but it’s the pale ale that makes it into our shopping trolley. A truly credible alternative to your more traditional craft beer, expect citrus spiked hops with a touch of honey on the nose. Serve ice cold and drink straight from the bottle, so you can admire the award-winning label.
Belvoir Shiraz Without The Hangover 75cl: £2.99, Ocado
Awarded a coveted star at the 2017 Great Taste Awards, Belvoir’s ‘shiraz’ aims to be the full-bodied red you want to drink with your juicy steak or Sunday roast beef – albeit without any chance of a hangover. Red grapes are coupled with elderberry and blackcurrant, and there’s even a touch of black peppercorn and vanilla (as you’d expect to find from a slightly oaked wine). The complexity stops this tasting like bog-standard grape juice, elevating it to something altogether more grown-up.
Silk Tree 0.5% 70cl: £28.49, wisebartender.com
Another brand aiming to replace the gin in your glass, Silk Tree is crafted in Ireland, in the traditional copper still just like the real deal. Here, however, the alcohol is removed but the punchy botanicals remain – warming cinnamon, refreshing coriander seeds, zingy orange peel and, of course, the juniper berries to impart the gin flavour you know and love. Silk tree is completely sugar-free – so stick to slimline if you’re counting the calories – and it also happens to be gluten-free.
Borrago #47 Paloma Blend 50cl: £19.95, Master of Malt
Complex and aromatic, we could tell Borrago was going to be something special from the first sniff. Looking just like any other gin bottle, expect to find a combination of black peppercorns, spice and citrus – all you need to add is the tonic, and garnish if you wish. Although very distinctive, we can see this working well in cocktails as well, so have fun playing around with your own concoctions.
Eisberg Sparkling White 75cl: £3.99, 31Dover.com
Coming in an attractive champagne style bottle, Eisberg is a popular choice among teetotallers. Each bottle goes through the same process as your regular wine, except for the last step, when the alcohol is removed. For this reason it’s much lower in calories (just 33 in a 125ml glass), so you can raise a glass without any of the guilt. While the rose version is on the sweet side, this white version makes for a very tempting aperitif.
Real Kombucha Royal Flush 330ml: £2.45, The Whisky Exchange
No longer just the preserve of the health conscious, Real Kombucha can be found in more than 40 Michelin star restaurants, even being served as part of a “kombucha flight” in Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck. Brewed from first flush Darjeeling (known in India as the queen of teas – hence the regal name), expect delicate floral notes, as well as richer rhubarb and gooseberry on the finish. Serve in a champagne flute and drink in place of your regular aperitif.
M&S Alcohol Free Sparkling Botanical G&T: £2.50, Marks and Spencer
Unlike some of the other gin replacements, this is already pre-mixed with a sparkling tonic so all you need to do is chill and pour over ice. Created by Hamish Martin, the owner of Edinburgh’s Secret Herb Garden (who also make Marks and Spencer’s exciting colour-changing gin), botanicals include juniper, coriander, lemon balm and cardamom. This teetotal alternative is refreshing, complex and oh-so-easy – keep a bottle in the fridge for when the midweek G&T cravings start.
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The Verdict: Best alcohol-free drinks
We’ve long been fans of Seedlip, so are delighted to see this new flavour, taking our palette in a whole new direction. Unlike some of the other non-alcoholic spirits, it tastes great with soda water (as opposed to tonic) so it’s also one of the healthiest. If you’re a gin drinker though, you’ll be delighted by all of the alt-gins featured here. Meanwhile Big Drop really tricked us into thinking we were drinking a premium (boozy) craft beer.
Stacey Smith is the founder of food & drink website Crummbs
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