Following in the footsteps of alcohol-free beer, non alcoholic spirits are on the rise, meaning you can enjoy a G&T or your favourite cocktail while remaining the designated driver.
The market is still in its infancy but there’s already quite a wide range of options, rather than just various clear liquids that vaguely resemble gin. They’re made in different ways, many actually distilled with botanicals much like a proper spirit.
Although there’s nothing stopping you drinking these neat, our testing confirms that generally you’re better off mixing them with tonic water or as part of a more complex cocktail recipe.
One thing to bear in mind is that, due to the lack of alcohol, these bottles need to be drunk in typically three months once opened. Like alcohol-free beer, they’re generally low-calorie too.
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Best non-alcoholic spirits
1. Xachoh - Blend No 7
Pronounced (Za-Ko), Xachoh draws on herbal remedies from ancient Persia, traditional recipes handed down six generations.
Blend No 7 is a fiery number that’s probably closest to a rum, featuring ginger, cinnamon, sumac and star anise. With a spicy and slightly sweet flavour, try it mixed with cola or ginger beer.
Try blend No 5 for something smoother, with flavours of chamomile.
For those who like an aperitif, check out Everleaf. It’s a bittersweet concoction flavoured with a range of botanicals including vanilla, vetiver, cassia and saffron. The latter gives it a golden hue.
It also features gentian, which gives it a fairly herbal profile but there’s also a fruity, almost grapefruit undertone as well.
It is very bitter, so you’re better off mixing Everleaf.
3. Seedlip - Spice 94
It’s arguably Seedlip that started the alcohol-free spirit movement having emerged in 2015. Spice 94 was the first edition and is our favourite of the three.
This is a heady combination of cardamom along with oak and cascarilla bark, so is for those looking for something with a decent punch. It can be served in various ways but we quite like it with cola.
Seedlip also makes Garden 108 and Grove 42 editions.
The colourful and vibrant label, which draws on the latin vibes of Columbia, is very much matched by the flavour of this ‘free-spirit’.
This is a distilled spirit with botanicals including juniper, spices and Inca berry so if you’re looking for a fruity non-alcoholic gin, look no further. Serve with tonic water, but we actually quite liked this one neat.
5. Three Spirit
With a logo reminiscent of the deathly hallows, we wouldn’t be surprised if this was a liquid created in Harry Potter’s potions class.
This is a plant based ‘social elixir’ and we think the second word there is bang on as there are no less than 11 ingredients here, including lion's mane, cacao, passion flower, green tea and molasses.
Flavour-wise it's sweet and sour with complex notes of tea, dried fruit and a lot more. A unique option that will suit those who enjoy kombucha.
6. Borrago - #47 Paloma Blend
This is one of the most complex flavours you’ll find in the alcohol-free market. Borrago is named after the purple flower that features on the label, called borage.
A range of steam distilled botanicals means there are all kinds of aromas and flavours going in. Each sniff brings something new including herbs, spices, citrus and more.
Like other clear examples, Borrago works well with just tonic or in cocktails that traditionally use gin or vodka.
MeMento comes all the way from Milan, Italy, and is one of the most herbal spirits here. It’s actually close to a vermouth.
We really like the wooden coaster attached to the bottom of the bottle, but more importantly the flavour is very grassy, floral and quite savoury thanks to the use of four key ingredients: rosemary, lemon verbena, rose and helichrysum italicum (aka curry plant).
8. Ceder’s - Classic
This ‘alt gin’ is a very well-rounded alcohol-free spirit that provides fruity, floral and herbal flavours and aromas. This is thanks to botanicals like juniper, rose-geranium and coriander.
It works well in all situations so use it just as you would a normal gin.
Ceder’s also comes in two other varieties - Crisp (chamomile and cucumber) and Wild (clove and rooibos).
Brand new to the market, Celtic Soul is from the team behind Ceder’s and really does smell like whisky.
Drinking it neat will never be able to match the real deal, but it has the key flavours of vanilla, spices and oak. Use it as a base for whisky cocktails and you’ll be very close to thinking you had the real thing.
Available at Sainsbury’s in-store
10. Stryyk - Not Rum
While many alcohol-free spirits are based on clear counterparts, Stryyk has managed to make a rum.
It must be harder to make darker alcohol-free spirits as there are very few around, but some wizardry means it has the trademark character of rum - namely cane sugar, vanilla and oak - without using any artificial flavouring.
If you’re not into rum, Stryyk also makes Not Gin and Not Vodka.