Going non-alcoholic isn’t just a ‘solution’ to a problem.
It’s now a cool trend, as well as a lifestyle as intrinsic to daily life as choosing your daily meals or shopping conscientiously.
Aside from being the path to better health for some – when done right, and particularly for those venturing towards sobriety post-alcoholism – it is now just cool to forgo the hit of booze for a chilled non-alcoholic glass of bubbly, or giving abstaining craft beer a try.
Do you know what the new-age food & beverage brands get wrong, though?
They try to be something they’re not.
The triumph of my latest finds is that they aren’t trying to exactly emulate their alcoholic counterparts with lacklustre fizzy gimmicks. They are breathing fresh and unique life into the world of sober spirits and wines.
DRINK NIL is a company that’s got sober-minded folks buzzing in South Africa.
They’re all about having fun and delivering vibrant & flavoursome non-alcoholic products. From invested local wine estates and spirit makers, comes the likes of tasty Abstinence Spice Gin (pairing well with Barker Quin Indian Tonic), the gilded Robertson Winery Sweet Sparkling White & Darling Cellars Sparkling Rosé, the elegantly packaged Botanical Duchess G&T (it’s in a can, but surprisingly cute!), and even a low-calorie Harry Lemon Spritz any tourist with a penchant for Seltzer or Cider in the summer, should try.
HOW IT WORKS
Are you looking for something mature or youthful? | Something to savour or gulp?
Just like how some people imbibe with only terroir or pricing, or celebrity recommendations in mind, any non-alcoholic drink on the market today will have its people. On the other hand, the adventurous can sometimes be expected to wade into the unknown because the packaging is just right.
The alcohol-free Harry Lemon Spritz is a surefire crowd-pleaser for its bold and colourful cheery summer branding – making it unequivocally Instagrammable, and ultimately a youthful contribution to the non-alcoholic drinks realm.
It just also happens to be a fantastic levelling-up from overly sweet and unimaginative non-alcoholic drinks probably seen, stirred, and sampled in your youth.
Its lemon-flavoured bottled self needs no additional mixing, and it chills easily, meaning it can blend in in the Cooler box, while also being great to enjoy with your lunch or dinner without the consequences of boozing or high sugar content!
This is bottled summer!
Non-Alcoholic beverages – the creative and effective sort – tend to make their mark due to one of 3 ingredient results:
Mushrooms have taken over more than just fashion and food in the sustainably-minded pivot of global markets. Mushrooms, and the herb Ashwagandha, have been used by some beverage-makers, in drinks beyond superfood smoothies. They make their way into non-alcoholic beverages like cocktails, via Spirits, and yield a most funky or earthy and interesting flavour.
Ginger remains a champion of drinks and food, with it lending bite to nearly anything it’s used in – and this time, it’s a winner for sober sipping.
Acacia and orange rind are the steadfast bar regulars who transform many a drink into an embittered glass of taste. They’re sharp and distinct in their flavour delivery (think Aperitifs, Bitters, and Aperol), but no less welcome, especially in non-alcoholic drinks.
I am Team Cocktail all day, every day!
Balancing measures of sweetness, saltiness, bitterness, acidity, and even mouthfeel, can make cocktail-making an art form worthy of only the finest mixologists to dare.
But honestly, having great ingredients is half the battle.
I’m adventurous with my spirits, and don’t mind bastardizing a known recipe, for a satisfying drink. Non-alcoholic Gins actually increase the fun of DIY cocktails, because it’s all the fun with none of the more headache-inducing consequences.
A gin like Abstinence Spice Gin, for example, is a worthwhile addition to the drinks bar, as it effectively draws from the bite and bitter category, but uses allspice, cassia bark, clove, floral cardamom and citrus notes.
And? It can make for a rather punchy spicy cocktail or G&T.
It’s actually a feat how the brand manages to unmistakably deliver on Gin flavour (best enjoyed with the Barker Quin Indian Tonic) considering how heavily the alcohol component factors into the singular tastes (and burn) of various gins and their finished G&T.
Alcohol-Free Wine can only go one of two ways…
It’s much like drinking alcoholic wine: You other love your find, or you marvel at the terrible taste.
Good taste and excellent flavours are personal and oh-so relative – even with critics!
People may have previously encountered either bland, excessively sweet, or eye-bulgingly ‘interesting’ flavour, but Robertson Winery Sweet Sparkling White wine and the Darling Cellars Sparkling Rosé are here to change the game for the better.
Their non-alcoholic wines aren’t a pale imitation of their wines that actually have alcohol content.
They use this de-alcoholised bottle to enhance the all-around wine-drinking experience – upholding the standards of a destination famed for its terroir producing some of the most sensational wines in the world.
Robertson Winery Sweet Sparkling White wine maintains a fruits bouquet with notes of Pear there, and makes an impression without booze – a testament to Robertson Winery’s reputation as seasoned & successful in the art of winemaking through years growing to be one of the largest wine producers in South Africa
The Darling Cellars Sparkling Rosé subtly oozes with strawberries and sweet plum – its Sauvignon Blanc and Grenache grapes a testament to the weathered granite and fluctuating cool and warm weather of the vineyards region.
The choice of their non-alcoholic wines Sparkling, is also a smart one, as history has shown that this is often the type that produces the closest alcoholic wine-esque taste experience.
Open yourself up to the possibility of loving a wine without wine, with these two wines on offer.
Canning ‘adult’ drinks can be risky, as many associate glass bottles as being the pinnacle of ‘adult drink mode’ – beers aside. However, Cans have really been a fantastic way to create convenience, cap flavour and beverage longevity exactly right, and create a visually viral experience.
The brand Duchess takes their botanical iteration of the classic Gin and Tonic, and cans it in an elegant design that calls to a drinkers market who want the grown airs the traditional drink evokes.
Some find the overall flavour flat, while I enjoy it for its pretty decent delivery of G&T without the booze punch.
My recommendation is to chill it well before drinking, to ensure you get a hit of the refreshing properties of this canned classic!
Anyone heckling people for choosing non-alcoholic drinks is missing out on just how fun sober adult drinks have gotten; After all, much like vegan foods, companies have had to be twice as creative in attracting customers, for even begrudging respect for the goods.
The bar is high for the spirits, wines, beers, spritz, and ciders low on alcohol.
However, companies like DRINK NIL are rising to the occasion – stocking some of the most exciting offerings for those choosing the road less travelled sober.
Would you give Sober Spirits a try?