Taking part in Sober October this year? You’re not alone. The campaign, which encourages you to ditch the drink for 31 days and raise runds for Macmillan Cancer Support in the process, has seen more than 60,000 people sign up already. But these days, alcohol-free drinks are for life, not just for October (or indeed, Dry January).
Last year, Waitrose & Partners saw a 31 per cent sales increase on low alcohol wines and 38 per cent growth in sales of no and low alcohol beer and cider throughout 2018, while Ocado reported sales of non-alcoholic wine rising by 42 per cent, and sales of no and low spirits and beers soaring by 87 per cent. A third of under-25s are saying no to booze completely – and they’re not the only ones.
Shoppers are shunning standard soft drinks and looking for something a little more grown-up – and the good news is, the beverage makers are listening. Whether you love a dry gin or robust red, a sugary cocktail or a clean, crisp tonic, chances are there’s a delicious replacement on the shelves…
The best alcohol-free drinks
Ceder’s Crisp Non-Alcoholic Spirit
Try it if you love: A gin and tonic
Hand-crafted and bottled in Sweden, Ceder’s is made from gin and South African botanicals, blended with pristine water to give the taste of gin, but not the alcohol content.
Seedlip Grove 42
Try it if you love: A citrus gin
‘Our shoppers have been delighted with the exclusive introduction of Seedlip Grove to our aisles recently,’ says says Pierpaolo Petrassi, Head of Beers, Wines and Spirits at Waitrose. ‘We love it with tonic and a twist of red grapefruit.’ There’s also a Spice and Garden variety.
The Bee’s Knees
Try it if you love: A glass of fizz
Not only is it significantly more affordable than a bottle of champagne or prosecco, The Bee’s Knees blends sparkling fermented grape juice blended with premium green tea in a way that’s so delicious, you won’t miss the booze. More into sparkling rose? They make that too.
Try it if you love: An Aperol spritz
Fans of Aperol or Campari will love this crisp and complex bittersweet blend of berries, botanicals, bitters and fruit extracts, finished with notes of citrus. Drink it as is, or stir into your go-to cocktail recipe.
Try it if you love: Rosé
Eisberg is a well-established name on the alcohol-free wine scene, and do rosé especially well. They go through every step of the wine-making process and then remove the alcohol, so the strawberry jam and raspberry flavour is a convincing match.
Try it if you love: Beer
Reviewers say that this alcohol-free tipple is so good, you forget it’s 0%. It’s brewed under the strict Bavarian Purity Law, which means it is made from only high quality, natural ingredients.
Try it if you love: White wine
Far from a standard white grape juice, Torres’ de-alcoholised wine makes for a refreshing, sherberty glass to be enjoyed over dinner or with friends. Waitrose recommend serving it with fish, seafood and rice dishes to compliment the taste even further.
Try it if you love: Ginger beer
If non-alcoholic ginger beers don’t usually provide the fire you’re after, Pimento’s chilli-infused option is the answer. It’s made with ginger, tonic and hot pepper natural flavours, and naturally low in sugar.
The London Essence Co.
Try it if you love: A cocktail
Missing the sweetness of a fruity drink? The London Essence Co. offers grown-up soda waters in flavours like Elderberry & Hibiscus, Rhubarb & Cardamom and White Peach & Jasmine. Pour them over ice and finish with a sprig of your favourite herb.
Try it if you love: Red wine
This intensely fruity bottle combines red grape juice with elderberry and blackcurrant, peppercorn and a subtle hint of vanilla. It even won an award at the 2017 Great Taste Awards, so you know that you’re not sacrificing sipping quality despite the lack of alcohol content.
No. 1 Sparkling Rosemary Water
Try it if you love: A healthy option
No sugar, no sweeteners, preservatives or colours (or calories) – just a refreshing drink made from two ingredients: natural spring water, and pure rosemary extract. This makes a truly tasty alternative to the plain fizzy waters on the shelves.