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Alcohol-free cocktails? Find them in your neighbourhood restaurant or bar

The world of non-alcoholic spirits and drink alternatives has grown far beyond the gimmicky trend of “dry January” and beverages long derided as mocktails.

BY RSVP March 04,2020

Non-alcoholic spirits are now big business, with dozens of emerging brands from both craft entrants and major spirits companies, as well as an ever-increasing presence at bars, restaurants, shops, and even hotel mini-bars.

What is a Non-Alcoholic Spirit?

A non-alcoholic spirit is just a liquid flavored with botanicals and other ingredients via distillation, only sans alcohol. These products are primarily intended to be used as ingredients in what are now more properly known as non-alcoholic cocktails, as opposed to being consumed on their own. By using these spirits rather than relying solely on calorically dense and rich juices and syrups, a more properly made and well-balanced drink can be created—and these drinks are not only for those who are sober.

An increasing sect of the public is pursuing wellness and moderation, as well as choosing products aligned with their mindset. Sure, a designated driver can enjoy a spirits-free cocktail while taking his friends around, but an imbiber can also alternate between regular cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks to limit his consumption for an evening. It offers a choice for consumers and ensures that everyone can pursue the social experience of going out for drinks with friends and family, or enjoying a flavorful libation hand-in-hand with food at a restaurant.

"People are more mindful of their consumption of alcohol," said Morten Sørensen, founder of ISH Spirits from Denmark. "but they still want to be social, without having to drink the alternatives like water, soda or sugary drinks."

Non-alcoholic Brands to Know

You have Ginnish and Rummish, from ISH Spirits, or Not Gin, Not Rum, and Not Vodka, from Strryk. 

Pernod Ricard distributes Ceder’s, a non-alcoholic gin, as well as Celtic Soul, an non-alcoholic “dark spirit.”

William Grant & Sons launched Atopia in 2019, technically an ultra-low ABV spirit, with 0.5% alcohol content. 

But the most well-established non-alcoholic spirit on the market is Seedlip. There are currently three flavors of Seedlip available: Garden 108, featuring garden herbs and peas reminiscent of the English countryside; Spice 94, with warming spices led by allspice, citrus peel, and barks; and Grove 42, which is citrus-forward and zesty with ginger and lemongrass.

Can Non-Alcohol Spirits mimic Alcohol Spirits?

"In Ginnish, we use the same components as in a normal gin," said Sørensen. Their non-alcohol gin is distilled with juniper berries, coriander seeds, and so on. "But it doesn't have the ethanol."

According to the founder of ISH, non-alcoholic drinks should be one of the components of a cocktail, non drank on their own. This gives more freedom to bartenders to innovate. Since alcohol-free cocktails are typically some combination of spirits, shrubs, fruit juices, syrups, and bitters, they have more freedom to experiment. Sørensen says crafting alcohol-free cocktails is less about attempting to make an alcohol-free martini or old-fashioned and more about creating new drinks using flavors people already love.

Read more about Non-Alcohol Spirits here and about Ginnish here.