Lifestyle

11/22/2021 | By Annie Tobey

Celebrations and holidays pair nicely with the enjoyment of alcoholic beverages, whether we’re toasting a milestone with the bubbly or sipping on a fine wine, cocktail, or beer with dinner. Unfortunately, alcohol can pack on the calories, wreak havoc on the liver, and lead to regrettable actions. Fortunately, a new focus on health has led to an explosion of alcohol-free beverages – spirits, beer, and wine posers. Stock your fridge with some of the best non-alcoholic drinks to enjoy the drinking upsides without the downsides, especially at holiday celebrations.

These new alternatives liquids can just about pass for the real thing. However, they’re healthier, don’t interfere with your brain and reaction time, harm your health (especially important for seniors, as our bodies ), and usually boast fewer calories. Most are available online, and occasionally at retail stores.

ALCOHOL-FREE “SPIRITS”

Amazingly, even several liquor clones qualify as some of the best non-alcoholic drinks. Those that are mimicking a specific liquor can usually be substituted in cocktail recipes using that liquor. You may minimize the alcohol content, if other liquors are used, or eliminate it altogether for a mocktail – i.e., an alcohol-free cocktails. Most of the company websites below have recipes worth trying.

1. Dhōs non-alcoholic spirits

Dhōs Spirits markets three products: certified pesticide free and made with natural flavors and no sugar. Dhōs Bittersweet is similar to bitter-orangey Aperol, but with only five calories per serving. The flavors blend bitter rhubarb, oranges, gentian root, bitter herbs, and spices. Given the powerful, tongue-tickling flavor of the Bittersweet, you can make a simple mocktail by adding soda, seltzer, or tonic water.

Dhōs Gin Free is a worthy substitute for gin, especially considering that it’s zero calories. It presents notes of fresh pine, juniper berries, citrus, and mint. The combination of hot and cooling sensations on the palate, from warming spice to refreshing menthol, mimic gin’s alcohol bite. Use Gin Free in mocktails by substituting it for gin, as in a Gin & Tonic. Or mix Gin Free with Bittersweet for a Phony Negroni.

Dhōs Orange, five calories per serving, serves up flavors of orange, tangerine, and vanilla, with a hint of menthol and spice. Curaçao oranges add a touch of bitter spice. Like Gin Free, Orange finishes with a mix of warming spice and cooling menthol.

2. Seedlip

A pioneer in the industry, this UK-based company was inspired by early alchemists distilling herbal remedies and by the founder’s three-centuries-old family farm. Seedlip markets three products: citrus-focused Grove Taste 42; Spice 94, an aromatic, earthy allspice-cardamom blend, and herbal Garden 108. All work well with tonic water of choice and a garnish or with other mixers. Or make one of the recipes suggested on the Seedlip website. All three products are zero calories and free of sugar and other sweeteners.

3. Curious Elixirs

These “shaken, not slurred” drinks mirror traditional cocktails. Each single-serving bottle of Curious Elixirs is made with organic juices, herbs, and spices. Each also boasts added herbal perks. No. 1, a Negroni-inspired drink adds rhodiola, for a potential “boost.” The pineapple-Margarita-slash-Dark-and-Stormy adds damiana, “to help you unwind.” Another adds ashwagandha; a fourth has ginseng, non-alcoholic prosecco, tulsi, and turmeric; and No. 5 is like a “smoked cherry chocolate old fashioned infused with elderberry and ginger for immunity and shatavari to restore balance.” No. 6, the only elixir in a can, presents tropical flavors and adds chicory root, lemon balm, nutmeg, aloe, and neroli.

4. Ritual

Ritual Zero Proof makes alcohol-free alternatives to gin, whiskey, rum, and tequila. The tipple replacements are made with all-natural botanical blends that add flavor as well as the viscosity and “heat” of alcohol. Enjoy the faux spirits neat, as a 1-to-1 substitute for the real thing, or in the creative recipes at the Ritual website. And the gin and tequila are zero calories, while the rum and whiskey are only 10 calories per 1.5 ounces.

5. Proteau Ludlow Red

Designed by John deBary, who served as bar director for Momofuku, Proteau’s original alcohol-free beverage, Ludlow Red, is promoted as a botanical aperitif, somewhat like a before-dinner wine or vermouth. Made with natural ingredients, including 34% blackberry juice, it boasts notes of blackberry, violet, dandelion, fig vinegar, black pepper and rose. Rivington Spritz adds sparkle to the floral, fruity, and bitter notes. No added sugar.

BEER

Near beers aren’t entirely non-alcoholic because the brewing process naturally produces alcohol. But at 0.5 percent alcohol by volume, or less – a measure that even satisfied the Feds during Prohibition – the effects are practically nil. Even for craft beer aficionados, NA beers may be among the best non-alcoholic drinks. They’re ideal for day drinking, dry days, or starting a session off slow, to keep it easy.

6. BrewDog

BrewDog, a Scotland-based brewery since 2007, has been recognized for years as a leader in brewing full-alcohol beers. More recently, the brewers have used their expertise to produce several NA beers. Recent beers in its AF (alcohol-free) lineup include Punk AF IPA, Lost AF lager, Nanny State hoppy ale, and Hazy AF Hazy IPA.

7. WellBeing Brewing Co.

Missouri-based WellBeing Brewing brews only near beers, from Heavenly Body Golden Wheat (68 calories), Hellraiser Dark Amber and Intentional IPA to Coffee Cream Stout, brewed with coffee, flaked oats, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and lactose.

Oh, and to answer the age-old question “What’s the best beer to drink after exercise?” WellBeing presents the refreshing Victory Wheat Sports Brew, with a hint of orange zest and … wait for it … electrolytes, polyphenols and vitamins!

8. Athletic Brewing Co.

Inspired by a healthy active lifestyle while noting the unhealthy results of alcohol-soaked nights and fog-drenched hangovers, founder Bill Shufelt launched Athletic Brewing. The brewery offers two year-round beers. Using Northwest hops, Run Wild IPA mimics an American IPA – malt/hops balance and approachable bitterness. Other beers include Free Wave Hazy IPA, gluten-reduced Upside Dawn golden ale, and All Out extra dark.

SPARKLING WINES

I’ll admit – I haven’t tried an abundance of alcohol-free wines and am not typically a fan of sparkling wines. However, I’ve tried these two and found them to be decent substitutes for the real thing.

9. Grüvi

Grüvi presents a “prosecco,” and a bubbly rosé (as well as a line of NA beers). The prosecco, made with Chardonnay grapes (no added sulfates or sugar), comes in at 50 calories, and the rosé at 60.

10. Vinada sparkling wines

Vinada uses a de-alcoholization process to produce their alcohol-free wines, using vacuum extraction. The fully fermented base wine is de-alcoholized at a low temperature, which is crucial to maintain the taste and preserve the aromas. The wine is then purified, filtered, and stabilized. Vinada currently markets Amazing Airén Gold, Tinteling Tempranillo Rosé, and Crispy Chardonnay. https://www.boomermagazine.com/vinada-alcohol-free-sparkling-wines/

Much of this content on the best non-alcoholic drinks has been adapted from Boomer Magazine articles on NA beers and spirits, including articles on Dhōs Spirits and Vinada.

Annie Tobey

Annie Tobey has been a professional writer and editor for more than 30 years. As editor of BOOMER magazine, she explored a diversity of topics of particular interest to adult children of seniors. When she’s not writing, she can be found running the trails or enjoying a beer with friends.

Annie Tobey