Britain’s relationship with alcohol is a long and tumultuous one. As we know all too well, it can be challenging to maintain a social life in this country without wetting your whistle. And, even during a quiet night in, many of us will reach to uncork a bottle of wine after a tough day at work.
But this is January 2020. Over the past two decades, Britain has experienced a seven per cent drop in alcohol consumption, while the market for low-and-no-alcohol alternatives continues to flourish. And, whether you’re taking up the sober mantel for charity, or simply to give yourself a post-Christmas detox, there are a handful of brilliant no-ABV alternatives that will ensure you’ll hardly notice the difference on a night out — all with the added benefit of waking up hangover-free. We’ll raise a glass to that.
Best ‘gin’: Seedlip Spice 94
Three years ago, Distill Ventures, the Diageo-backed and funded accelerator program for entrepreneurs in the drinks industry, spotted a lucrative opportunity in Seedlip. Founded by Ben Branson in 2015, Seedlip claims to offer the world’s first distilled non-alcoholic spirit — an elegant, adult alternative to the “fruity, sickly-sweet mocktails” Branson found to be the only option for non-drinkers in bars and restaurants. The brand’s manifesto was, and remains, simple: to give those who don’t drink something to drink.
A complex blend of aromatic Jamaican allspice berry and cardamom distillates with two barks and a bright citrus finish, the Seedlip Spice 94 is an aromatic, non-alcoholic spirit with warm spiced notes, citrusy top notes from lemon and grapefruit peel, and a long bitter finish. Simply serve with tonic and a red grapefruit peel garnish — we promise you won’t notice the difference.
Seedlip Spice 94
Best ‘rum’: Stryyk Not Rum
Looks like rum. Tastes like rum. It’s Not Rum – the perfect non-alcoholic alternative for all your favourite rum-based drinks. The no-alcohol experts over at Stryyk blend sweet sugar cane and raisin notes with the characteristic vanilla and oakwood tones that help create a perfectly balanced spiced rum non-alcoholic spirit.
It’s 100% natural with no fat, no carbs and no artificial flavours. Now you can follow the siren call of the Mojito or the Mai Tai safe in the knowledge that it won’t lead to a disastrous conclusion. Dive in.
Stryyk Not Rum
Best ‘amaretto’: Lyre's Non-Alcoholic Amaretti
Many years in the making, Australian brand Lyre’s exquisite range of lovingly crafted alcohol-free, classic spirits was borne from a quest to make the impossible possible. “To provide an alternative to those who don’t wish to imbibe alcohol, but still wish to enjoy the mirth, merriment and social intercourse of an evening soiree or shindig.”
And, for a quintessentially festive tipple, this amaretto alternative is no exception. Perfect for those who want to enjoy the nutty, bitter and tangy profile of the classic liqueur with none of the alcoholic content, whether that’s over ice or in an Amaretto Sour.
Lyre's Non-Alcoholic Amaretti
Best ‘free spirit’: Caleño
Frustrated by the lack of alcohol-free alternatives when she headed out dancing, Caleño founder Ellie Webb took her inspiration from Colombia, her family’s South American heartland, to create this intriguing mix of fruits and spices.
Unlike many of the other drinks in this category, it’s nothing like gin. Although it has juniper in it, there are other flavours that come through more strongly – cardamom, lemon, and Inca berries. It’s got a lovely fruity flavour which is not too sweet and genuinely refreshing. And, although the producers recommend serving Caleño with tonic, you might also want to try it with soda.
Best 'highland spirit': Feragaia
Feragaia (fer-a-guy-a) is Scotland’s first premium alcohol-free spirit. It has a complex but clean taste and warming finish, which is best enjoyed over ice or with a light tonic. The drink is progressively distilled, blended and bottled in the far reaches of the Scottish Lowlands, an area governed by centuries of spirit innovation. Amber in colour with a light smokiness reminiscent of its Scotch brethren, this is an open call to cut out the noise and take in the moments worth savouring.
And, while we know it isn’t what really matters — but this spirit takes home our unofficial award for the most beautiful bottle.
Best 'spritz': Everleaf
Described by its creators as a ‘bittersweet aperitif’, Everleaf is the ideal non-alcoholic alternative for those who love a savoury spritz. Offering a sophisticated palate featuring saffron, vanilla, vetiver, iris, angelica, cassia and voodoo lily, the suggested serve is with tonic and an orange wedge resulting in a light, refreshing cocktail with the long finish that many non-alcoholic drinks lack.
The even better news? Since its foundation, Everleaf has been committed to sourcing sustainable ingredients as well as supporting conservation efforts and the communities in Madagascar and Haiti which grow its botanicals.
Best super-low alcohol spirit: Atopia
There are some flavours that can only be produced using a traditional alcoholic distillation process so, if you’re not planning on going 100% teetotal, then Atopia is the ideal low-alcohol alternative to your usual full strength tipple.
At 0.5% ABV, an Atopia and tonic contains 75x less alcohol than a standard gin and tonic while delivering the familiar botanical taste and bitter finish of the traditional spirit. Created by William Grant & Sons master blender Lesley Gracie, Atopia is available in Wild Blossom and Spiced Citrus variations, providing great alternatives with which to create a range of non-alcoholic cocktails.