Move over vodka, rum and gin, the next-gen spirits are here and they're probably not what you were expecting. As interest in booze-free alternatives continues to grow, so too do the fun, innovative and grown-up alternatives on offer. Just last year, Waitrose reported an 180% rise in sales in non-alcoholic alternatives year on year, with searches on the website for non-alcoholic spirits and aperitifs up 2,140% and 82% respectively.
Wondering what a non-alcoholic spirit actually is? The term essentially covers both distilled botanicals filtered not once, but twice, to remove the alcohol through evaporation, and macerated and extracted botanicals made without the introduction of alcohol. Other types use no alcohol whatsoever, using more inventive techniques like steam distillation.
By definition, non-alcoholic refers to any drink with less than 0.5% alcohol by volume (or ABV). Simply put, the alcohol can't build up in your blood as your body processes it nearly as fast as you drink it. Take a pint of 0.5% beer, for example, which sits at about 0.28 units of alcohol, and has roughly the same ABV as a very ripe banana. Yep.
Keep scrolling for Foodism's pick of the ten best non-alcoholic spirits; they're our favourite blends and the ones that hit your palate with complex enough notes to actually make you forget you're not boozing. Cheers to that.
10 non-alcoholic spirits for sober socialising
Available at: Sainsbury's and Ocado, £25.99
The first ultra-low alcohol spirit from family distillers William Grant & Sons, ATOPIA is a blend of natural distillates, flavours and extracts designed to offer non-drinkers a sweet, bitter, fresh and sharp alternative to, well, sparkling water. Containing 75 times less alcohol than your standard G&T, this non-alcoholic spirit will help you swerve the sore head and sip on a more-grown up booze alternative. They've got spiced citrus and wild blossom blends to choose from, offering elevated flavour profiles for a moderated drinking experience.
Available at: Sainsbury's and Ocado, £18.00
Whether you're a Moscow Mule, Martini or Caipirinha kinda person, everyone loves a cocktail and, with STRYYK, you can now enjoy your favourite sans any of the actual gin, vodka or rum. STRYYK's non-alcoholic spirits are made from botanicals and distillates and created in collaboration with top bartenders to really perfect the reconstructed flavours of spiced rum, London dry gin and traditional vodka. If you like the sound of traditional flavours, distilled at a high quality and made to mimic natural notes, you'll love STRYYK.
Available at: Morrisons, £15
One of the newer non-alcoholic spirits on the market, Amplify is a fruity blend perfect for the sweet-toothed among you. It's distilled using an iStill, which roughly means it's being made using one of the latest and most high-tech bits of brewing equipment on the market, allowing the mixologists to gauge a more accurate temperature control during the blending process. Like your more traditional alcoholic spirits, Amplify is distilled with a range of invigorating botanicals and ingredients such as juniper berries, coriander seeds, Angelica root, lemon peel, lemongrass and ginseng root. See, you really don't need alcohol to make a drink seriously satisfying. Fun fact: the bottles have been designed by renowned Brighton-based artist Sophie Abbott.
4. Nine Elms
Available at: Master of Malt, £19.95
Support local with Nine Elms (yep) based distillery Nine Elms, who has recently launched its first non-alcoholic spirit in the UK. No.18 is created with the botanical infusions of a huge twenty different flowers, herbs and spices, plus the juice of four types of berry. It's minty, full-bodied and fresh with a long, spicy aftertaste, making it the perfect companion for a range of dishes, from pasta to steak. Not only is Nine Elms available to buy online at Master of Malt, it's on the menu of a few pretty top notch restaurants and bars, too, including Isaac McHale’s The Clove Club and The Standard. Chin, chin.
Available at: Sainsbury's, £18
If nothing else, invest in a bottle of Everleaf for your bar to admire the b-e-a-utifully designed bottle and read up a little on the founder Paul Mathew's story. A conservation biologist-turned-bartender-turned-non-alcoholic-spirit-maker, he's used his botanical adventures around the world to inspire his product, researching and sourcing the core plants that make up the ingredients for Everleaf as he travelled. Think rich vanilla and saffron; bitter and earthy gentian; and vibrant vetiver and orange blossom combined to offer a bright bittersweet complexity. Everleaf's USP? Plant passion runs in the family. Paul's father, Brian, worked at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew and wrote the definitive books on two of Everleaf's ingredients – Crocus and Iris. Prior to that, Paul’s ancestor Captain Monty Wellby was a plant-collecting explorer. It's a family affair, natch.
Available at: Holland & Barratt, Tesco and Waitrose, £22
The OG of the non-alcoholic spirits game, Seedlip has been switching up the alcoholic alternatives game since 2014 when they debuted the world's first non-alcoholic spirit. Fast forward six years and they're one of the most-loved (and known) sober botanical blends on the market, having essentially invented the non-alc aperitif and spirit category. Brewed in a copper pot, there are a wide range of different Seedlip blends ranging from sweet, sultry, bitter and biting, which roughly translates to them having a booze-free option for all.
Available at: Seedlip, £12
From the non-alcoholic spirits giant at Seedlip also comes the cute little NOgroni at a diddy little 20cl. Best enjoyed as an aperitif with food or as a straight non-alcoholic spirit on its own, the NOgroni has—you guessed it—no booze whatsoever, but a blend of Seedlip Spice 94, Æcorn Bitter and Æcorn Aromatic. They deliver a mix of bitter and citrus tones that really hit the tastebuds with tangs of real-life Negroni, sans gin, vermouth and Campari, of course. Born, albeit unconventionally, in Seedlip founder Ben Branson’s garage, the NOgroni debuted at The World’s Best Bar Awards in London in 2017 and has been doing the rounds ever since. Buy, sip, savour, enjoy; it's a good'un.
Available at: Waitrose and Selfridges, £19.99
Hot on the heels of the first ever distilled non-alcoholic spirit came the first ever non-alcoholic aperitif, Æcorn, the sister brand of Seedlip. Infusing 17th century English herbal remedies and blending and bottling in the UK, Æcorn's three aperitifs are made from 100% English grown pinot noir, meunier and chardonnay grapes, and blended with herbs, roots and bitter botanicals. In good health.
Available at: Master of Malt, £28
Feragaia, Scotland’s first alcohol free spirit, is a distilled drink made from 14 land and sea botanicals in the Scottish Lowlands. Imagine something of a scotch, mezcal and kombucha hybrid and you'll be on the right tracks. Pronounced fer-a-guy-a, it's a complex tasting spirit made using a traditional distillation process. Looking for an alternative to alcohol without sacrificing the boldness of a quality distilled spirit? Then of all the non-alcoholic spirits, you'll love Feragaia.
10. Three Spirit
Available at: Harvey Nichols, £24.99
Sober-curious? Then tantalise your tastebuds (sorry) with Three Spirit, a specialty low-no ABV spirit made from natural plant-based ingredients, including lion’s mane mushrooms, yerba mate, holy basil and coconut vinegar, promising to positively influence your mood and energy. There are three different mixes: The Livener, The Social Elixir, and The Nightcap. Give it a try pre-, mid- and post- party to pump up and calm down accordingly.