An alcohol free life is no longer just for alcoholics. A sweeping trend identifies those choosing to live without booze as cleaner, cooler, clearer. It’s never been so hip to be sober.
Alongside this is a well-overdue move towards alcohol-free spirits and drinks made for grown-ups. Want a cocktail? No trouble. Alternative to GnT? Of course – ice and a slice? There’s a fantastic range of delicious, alternative drinks springing up, giving consumers an elegant and sophisticated range of choices.
…there’s now a wide selection of truly impressive, adult, AF options that don’t make you feel like a toddler clutching an after-thought
There is only so much Schloer or orange juice anyone can cope with, frankly, so this is excellent news. Whilst high end cocktail bars everywhere over the past few years have started to offer unique cocktails without alcohol (and far fewer calories) – you can now buy your own to have at home too.
We’ve been testing all week and have been absolutely bowled over by the creativity and flavours that go into some of these.
Whether you want an aperitif, a distilled drink for mixing or making cocktails with, or a snifter for after dinner, there’s now a wide selection of truly impressive, adult, AF options that don’t make you feel like a toddler clutching an after-thought. Whether you’re driving, have quit the demon drink for health or addiction reasons, or just fancy something cleaner, here’s some of our faves…
Æcorn Bitter – 50cl @ £19.99
This is a great aperitif – if your tastebuds tend towards dry and bitter, this is perfect for you. Exciting over ice on its own, we think this has legs for a perfect kind of AF Negroni (No-groni?), with soda water. Bitter, complex and citrusy with refreshing notes of grapefruit, bay leaf and orange, this is a sophisticated hit and ideal for a drinks party with nibbles.
Three Spirit ‘The Livener’ – 50cl @ £24.99
This is heavenly – packed with flavour and including hibiscus, pomegranate and watermelon, this is perfect served with a good tonic. It’s not really ‘like’ anything, it’s got its own thing going on. It’s an exotic drink but also powerful – as the name might suggest. Be aware, it’s rich in zingers like guava leaf and natural caffeine so not a late night tipple. They suggest margaritas or daiquiri style cocktails, and we can vouch for it being delicious in an AF Bellini made with Nosecco.
Ceder’s Crisp 50cl @ £20
Many of the drinks we tried are alternatives to gin, vodka, rum etc, but don’t really taste like them. The Ceder’s range absolutely does. If you’re looking for a gin replacement and not worried that it actually tastes like gin, these are for you. We loved this one, the ‘Crisp’, with juniper, cucumber, and chamomile. Wonderfully refreshing with tonic and squeezed lime wedge.
Xachoh No7 70cl @ £28.99
This is one of the more expensive options but the No7 has a lovely rich, spicy taste that will delight anyone whose drinking preferences lean towards treacly rums, whiskies, bourbons etc. With the depth of a well-aged dark spirit, this is pretty good on the rocks, but also great with ginger, Coke and so on. A stand-out warmer option in what is a market dominated by gin and vodka alts.
Stryyk ‘Not’ range – 70cl @ £18.99
Coming up on our taste test as the best value for money, the Stryyk range was also the only brand that had consistently good responses to all of its drinks. The Not Gin in particular was very popular – it’s not really super like gin, but has a really zingy herby hit, with coriander, sage, basil and juniper. The Not Rum was gorgeous with Coca Cola.
Borrago #47 Paloma Blend 50cl @ £19.99
Delightfully herby, this is a drink that stands up on its own, without making any comparisons. It’s a taste of summer, mixed with a good tonic and ice, and we loved the way it comes with a nice serving suggestions menu, and a pack of borage seeds. Delish.