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Zero-proof tequila, alt-gins, alcohol-free aperitifs—it’s never been easier to find high-quality, non-alcoholic spirits. Amid increased interest in non-alcoholic cocktails, Nielsen data reports the “sober-curious” trend is here to stay. As younger people opt for wellness-oriented lifestyles, the experts predict healthy drinking and non-alcoholic spirits will be one of the fastest-growing categories in the beverage world.
But what do these zero-proof beverages have to offer once the ABV is gone? And where did the non-alcoholic cocktail craze start?
Seedlip is widely thought of as the brand that put non-alcoholic spirits on the map back in 2015. Founder Ben Branson, inspired by the 17th-century book “The Art of Distillation,” tinkered with a copper still and homegrown herbs in his kitchen—in the woods of Lincolnshire, England—to create the first non-alcoholic spirit. The result? A flavorful spirit with notes of fresh peas, hay, hops, and rosemary that’s completely devoid of calories, sugar, sweeteners, and artificial flavors.
These days, there are dozens of top non-alcoholic spirits on the market to choose from, whether you’re looking for a crisp G&T alternative or a dark and brooding spirit to sip neat that even has a warming high-ABV kick. However, zero-proof enthusiasts should note that, due to the lack of alcohol, these spirits generally need to be consumed within three months of opening. That said, these are our favorite non-alcoholic spirits for when sobriety strikes.
Seedlip’s Trio Bundle
The most widely available and recognizable brand of the bunch, Seedlip currently produces three non-alcoholic spirits. Each has its own one-word description that acts as a cue for at-home bartenders: “Aromatic,” “Herbal,” and “Citrus.” Pair it, as you would with an effervescent mixer, with a tonic for an easy mixed drink, or browse Seedlip’s cocktail list for inspiration. For a festive tipple, look out for the Alternative Eggnog Bundle which is the brand’s booze-less gift box made up of Seedlip Spice 94, fresh nutmeg from Burlap & Barrel, Just Date syrup, a spice grater, and a recipe card.
To buy: $65, Williams-sonoma.com
Lyre’s Aperitif Rosso
If you’re partial to a well-crafted Manhattan, don’t sleep on Lyre’s aromatic vermouth-like Aperitif Rosso paired with their take on American Malt and a dash of bitters. The Australian brand is a popular choice for its range of high-quality, non-alcoholic spirits. They have everything from an absinth alternative, to a Dry London Spirit for a gin-less gin, and a Dark Cane Spirit akin to an elegant dark rum.
To buy: $35, Lyres.com
Fortnum’s Rosé Sparkling Tea
Technically a wine-alternative rather than a spiritless spirit, from the utterly British brand Fortnum & Mason’s comes an impressive non-alcoholic rosé. With a pale pink hue, their take on a no-ABV sparkling rosé is crisp and subtly sweet, with notes of tropical fruits, cranberry, hints of ginger, and deep layers of Darjeeling tea. It’s the perfect bottle of faux bubbly for a toast.
To buy: $23, Fortnumandmason.com
Spiritless’ Kentucky 74
Old Fashioned drinkers and sober-curious bourbon fans should give Spiritless’ new non-alcoholic bourbon a try. The Louisville-based, female-led drink company used a grain-neutral spirit and charred oak to weave oaky Bourbon-like flavors into the spirit during the extraction process. They’ve even reimagined that “warming” whiskey sensation with every sip in the form of a ginger heat.
To buy: $36, Spiritless.com
Ritual Tequila Alternative
Made with margaritas in mind, Ritual’s golden-hued tequila alternative balances flavors of traditional agave, charred oak, and bright Mexican lime. The alcohol-free spirit company out of Chicago uses botanical flavors to mimic the taste, smell, and experience of drinking hard liquor.
To buy: $27, Amazon.com
Three Spirit’s The Nightcap
Contrary to popular belief, you can sip and savor non-alcoholic spirits—especially when it comes to bottles like Three Spirit’s The Nightcap. Developed alongside Robin Honhold, of the iconic cocktail brand Mr. Lyan, the spirit combines “aromatic plants, bright spices, and tree saps.” It features lemon balm, valerian, and hops combined with “complex notes of oak and vanilla for a calm, dreamy feeling.”
To buy: $28, Thewhiskyexchange.com
White or red? Jukes’ “premium adult cordials” have the “DNA of great wine,” but in fact use a base of organic apple cider vinegar. You know you’re in good hands with these cordials, as they’re the brainchild of world-famous wine taster and author Matthew Jukes.
To buy: $49, Jukescordialities.com
Proteau’s Ludlow Red
Developed by John deBary, Momofuku’s longtime bar director and a former bartender at PDT in New York, Proteau is a delicious non-alcoholic botanical aperitif made primarily of blackberry juice, with hints of fig vinegar, chrysanthemum, black pepper, and licorice root. It has the same deep ruby hue as wine and can be sipped straight, no mixing or ice needed.
To buy: $20, Drinkproteau.com
Everleaf Non-Alcoholic Bittersweet Aperitif
Everleaf is an aperitif-style drink from UK bartender and conservation biologist Paul Mathew. Considering Mathew’s background, it’s not at all surprising that Everleaf is both delicious and sustainably sourced. Made from 18 different plants, all “sourced responsibly from nature,” the drink is aromatic with a bittersweet citrus twist.
To buy: $21, Thewhiskyexchange.com
Ceder’s Wild Gin Alternative
Combining different South African botanicals with a juniper base, Swedish alt-gin brand Ceder’s is available in four punchy varieties: Classic, Crisp, Pink Rose, and Wild (which counts ginger, clove, and rooibos among its botanicals). Wild is a crisp and botanic zero-proof gin that blends perfectly with high-end tonic.
To buy: $22, Betterrhodes.com
Töst Non-Alcoholic Sparkling Beverage
Töst promises “all of the excitement of champagne and none of the booze.” Essentially, this elegant-looking bottle of bubbly is a dry blend of white tea, white cranberry, and ginger that makes a great, celebratory substitute to the real thing.
To buy: $37, Amazon.com