Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+ Join today!.
Once upon a time, the alcohol-free options at your local bar, restaurant, store, or friend’s party might have seemed pretty blah. Sugary sodas, maybe some sparkling water, not much else. Club soda with lime will always be a classic, but it doesn’t quite have the taste or visual appeal of a proper cocktail. Luckily, for those who want to cut back or eliminate their alcohol consumption, there’s been a boom in the quantity and quality of boozeless drink options in recent years. With the popularity of Dry January and an increase in sober-curiosity, even people who drink alcohol as well are buying these formerly-niche products. You’ll now find an array of appealing alcohol free spirits on store shelves – or even in dedicated liquor-free bottle shops, like Soft Spirits in Los Angeles, and specialist web stores, like The Zero Proof. Regardless of if you’re full-time sober or not, these non-alcoholic spirits and drinks deserve a spot on any modern bar cart.
Best Alcohol Free Spirits
New London Light Developed by the master distiller behind Salcombe Gin, New London Light is a zero-proof, low-calorie, and vegan line. The range includes three products: Aegean Sky, billed as offering a Mediterranean-inspired “combination of sun-soaked bitter citrus and olive”; Midnight Sun, which has a Nordic profile with elderberries and pine; and the flagship First Light, with a gin-like botanical profile of juniper, citrus, and ginger.
Seedlip Another UK-based brand, Seedlip’s botanical formulations are a tribute to the 300-year-old family farm where the company got its start. The company was early on the alcohol free spirits trend, launching in 2015, and as such is one of the most widely-available and recognized. Currently, there are three flavors: citrus-forward Grove 42, greener Garden 108, and your author’s personal fave Spice 94, which highlights allspice and cardamom notes.
Kin Euphorics With its talk of natural euphoria properties, Kin might sound a bit like a different kind of herbal refreshment, but it’s decidedly cannabis-free. The brand has two alcohol free spirits, High Rhode, recommended for socializing, and Dream Light, intended for relaxation; both are also sold in single-serving spritz cans. The ‘euphoria’ comes from adaptogens, nootropics, and, in the High Rhode and Kin Spritz, a small amount of caffeine.
Ghia Easily the most eye-catching bottle in the N/A market, Ghia is also among the brands we see most often on bar menus and store shelves. The aperitif is ruby in color and bitter in flavor, emulating an amaro. In addition to the bottled product, you’ll also find two flavors of Ghia’s Le Spritz, a fizzy, pre-mixed spritz in a can, ideal for picnics, park concerts, and parties.
AMASS The folks at AMASS are clear that they don’t think of their non-alcoholic Riverine as a “gin proxy,” but it does have a juniper-forward botanical bill that you might consider directionally gin-ish. It’s light but complex and great in a spritz. It’s also completely free of artificial colors, flavors, GMOs, and added sugars. The brand also offers single-serving canned seltzers in sophisticated flavors.
Curious Elixirs Curious Elixirs offers a range of bottled or canned liquor-free cocktails available in both a permanent core collection and limited edition seasonal offerings. My favorite is the No. 1, designed as their offering for negroni lovers, packed with pomegranate and citrus. If they bring back the summery No. 6, I would snag it, too. Sort of an oat milk-based piña colada concept.
Wilderton If you’ve read our story on homemade mocktails, you’re already familiar with Wilderton. The brand’s Lustre appears in the Citrus Flower Sour recipe. Lustre is the more citrusy and bright of the companies two alcohol free spirit offerings; the other, Earthen, is inspired by the woody, smokey sensation of hiking through a dense forest of the Pacific Northwest.
Figlia Another one for the Aperitivo Hour community, Figlia Fiore is an aperitif with bitter, floral, and aromatic qualities. It’s great in a spritz or to use in cocktail recipes. Lily Geiger, the founder of the brand, says got into the alcohol free movement to raise awareness about substance abuse and normalize saying no to booze. “I find that I like not drinking even better. But not drinking is still seen as different. Non-drinkers are still seen as outsiders,” she writes on the company website. “So, I decided to create Figlia. For those who are going zero proof, for whatever reason.”
Spiritless I first learned about Spiritless Kentucky 74 from Derek Brown, a Washington, D.C. bartender and the author of Mindful Mixology: A Comprehensive Guide to No- and Low-Alcohol Cocktails. Brown used the bourbon-like spirit in a special cocktail served at celebrations for the inauguration of President Biden, as Biden is a non-drinker himself. The sipper is gluten-free and vegan – and it’s also a very solid sub for bourbon in your favorite drinks.
Caleño Currently available in the US for order via third-party retailers (and thus, pricey) Caleño will reportedly expand US availability in early 2022. In the UK, however, the product is widely available and gets extremely high marks. The brand makes two spirits, Light and Zesty (pitched as a tropical-leaning gin), and Dark and Spicy (a pineapple and kola nut ‘rum’), both inspired by the founder’s time in Columbia. Reviewers note that the Dark and Spicy is the rare soft spirit that merits drinking straight. Note: Caleño is not technically alcohol free; it does have a 0.5 percent ABV, which is about the same as your average kombucha.
De Soi Are you someone who likes to bring a bottle to the party, and kind of wants it to be the one with the cutest label? Maybe one with a fun little story behind it you can share as an ice breaker? De Soi, a new brand co-founded by pop star Katy Perry, might be for you. Inside the very cool, design-y packaging you’ll find one of three adaptogenic aperitifs, all featuring green tea: Champignon Dreams, a juicy offering with reishi mushroom; Purple Lune, with darker blackberry, vanilla, and oak flavors and a dose of relaxing ashwagandha; or Golden Hour, a bright and lemongrassy pick with maca.
Optimist Botanicals Billing itself as “clean, clear, crafted spirits,” Los Angeles-based Optimist makes three alcohol free spirits, citrusy Bright, herbaceous Fresh, and spiced Smokey. Smokey is my favorite of the trio, with a flavor profile the brand says is inspired by the California desert, but all are solid. Optimist’s products are less thick in texture than some other brands, but mix and spritz well.