Late-summer sip: A new world of booze-free options

  • Non-alcoholic spirits are displayed in New York in August 2021. Interest in a sober lifestyle has been growing for years, leading to the rise of mocktails and alcohol-free bars. The pandemic led even more people to question boozy drinking habits. Non-alcoholic options range from drinks that aim to replicate existing spirits to ones that promise something completely new. (Katie Workman via AP)

  • Non-alcoholic spirits are displayed at Boisson in New York in August 2021. Interest in a sober lifestyle has been growing for years, leading to the rise of mocktails and alcohol-free bars. The pandemic led even more people to question boozy drinking habits. Non-alcoholic options range from drinks that aim to replicate existing spirits to ones that promise something completely new. (Katie Workman via AP)

  • Non-alcoholic spirits are displayed at Boisson in New York in August 2021. Interest in a sober lifestyle has been growing for years, leading to the rise of mocktails and alcohol-free bars. The pandemic led even more people to question boozy drinking habits. Non-alcoholic options range from drinks that aim to replicate existing spirits to ones that promise something completely new. (Katie Workman via AP)

Looking to kick back and enjoy the late days of summer with something non-alcoholic? There’s been a real transformation going on in the world of non-alcoholic beverages.

Craftspeople, mixologists and scientists have moved well beyond sweet “fake wines” and watery no-alcohol beers. There’s now a bountiful selection of zero-proof drinks that don’t feel like a substitution for something, but rather like a stand-alone genre of sophisticated drink choices.

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Interest in a sober lifestyle has been growing for years, leading to the rise of mocktails and alcohol-free bars. The pandemic led even more people to question boozy drinking habits as they found themselves at home much of the time, feeling anxious, perhaps, or trying not to put on weight.

So whether you are sober, sober-curious, pregnant, dieting, the designated driver, or need to wake up early for a big meeting, there’s no reason to miss out on a great drink.

Just a sampling of what’s new:

No &Low is an online marketplace for non-alcoholic beverages, founded by brothers Massimo and Louis Borrelli in October 2020. They saw a growing market and were impressed by the passion and expertise that makers were putting into new booze-free products.

Louis Borrelli identifies three main buckets of non-alcoholic drinks, which echo the reasons people are choosing them.

First, there are brands trying to replicate existing alcohols like rum and gin, geared towards people who want to swap out their evening tipple.

Second, there are companies trying not to make a substitute gin, per se, but rather “a similar but different drinking experience with a different flavor profile.” Many of these beverages are meant to replicate some of the characteristics found in alcoholic beverages.

Third, there are drinks which are “all their own thing, and often offer health or functional benefits,” says Borrelli. These beverages, such as Rock Grace wines mentioned below, are less about imitating the alcoholic experience than creating a different kind of experience.

Borelli notes that many of these options, because they lack alcohol, also are low in calories.

WINES

Non-alcoholic wines — sparkling in particular — have come a long way from the sweet old days. TÖST makes a rose version with white tea, ginger, and elderberry, and a crisp, almost peachy, slightly tart bubbly with white tea, cranberry and ginger.

Thompson &Scott’s Noughty line includes an organic, sparkling, alcohol-free chardonnay, as well as a sparkling rose from southern Spain made from 100% organic Tempranillo grapes.

Woodland’s sparkling drinks are kombucha-tea based; their Woodland Honey Wine is described as “mead with a modern twist,” a honey wine with a blend of kombucha tea and wild Norwegian ingredients.

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Rock Grace describes its alcohol-free wines as “infused with beauty and wellness benefits and crystal energy.” Like many other non-alcoholic spirit and wine makers, Rock Grace is promoting a lifestyle along with it products.

Verjus is a category unto itself. The name translates from the French as “green juice.” Verjus is a slightly sweet and acidic drink made from young, unripe grapes, also used in cooking. Wolffer Estate

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