Dry January has come and gone — whether or not you observed it — but the impulse to drink less definitely hasn't evaporated with the passing of the month. Recent reports note that the "dry-curious" are growing in number, and even those who have no desire to swear off booze are dipping their toes into the world of non-alcoholic (NA) spirits.
But not all NA drinks are created equal — and finding something that honors the ritual of raising a glass without the accompanying buzz is a tall order. So, from pre-mixed spritzes to botanical beverages that deserve a permanent spot on your bar cart, we've rounded up a few NA options that truly rival their alcoholic counterparts. (Of course, if you just want healthier alcohol options, we've got those, too.)
What it is: Unlike other beverages in this space, Kin's "Euphorics" — one for socializing, one for winding down at night — are designed to mimic the effects as well as the taste of a good aperitif. Kin hopes to replace your classic happy hour drink and your nightcap alike with a subtle soothing sensation (and no hangover). In practice, this substitute effect is part of what makes it an easy swap if you're trying out the NA life ... or just trying to cut down on your weekly drink tab.
How to drink it: Kin offers pre-mixed cans of its "High Rhode" formula as a spritz, so all you need is ice. Or, opt to get a little more creative and use its High Rhode or Dream Light drinks as you would any other on your bar cart, mixing with juice, soda, and bitters. (We found High Rhode to be particularly tasty with some Luxardo cherries and soda.)
2. GIMBER, $26
What it is: As the name suggests, GIMBER is primarily a ginger concentrate, spiked with lemon juice and organic spices. Created partly as a cocktail alternative and partly as a health drink, it's a nice balance between making yourself an end-of-day beverage and doing something actually good for your body. Gingerol, a main component of ginger, is often used as a digestion aid and has anti-inflammatory properties — so you might end up getting some fringe benefits beyond just "not drinking".
How to drink it: Since it's a concentrate, GIMBER is meant to be watered down — which makes it a good base for NA cocktails. Naturally, it's a great fit for classic drinks like the Moscow Mule or a holiday Hot Toddy, but the ginger's bite also makes it a great (and unexpected) option for a virgin Bloody Mary. In the kitchen, its concentrated flavor makes it a surprisingly versatile tool for sauces, marinades, and other cooking applications — so it's a nice tool to have on-hand.
What it is: AMASS is a bit of a Swiss army knife of a company — they make personal care products, traditional spirits, and NA spirits. (Double-check that you're buying the one called "Riverine" if you're in the market for an NA drink.) Riverine is a gin-like mix of juniper and other botanicals, but even the gin-averse say they've been won over by its unique flavor profile and easy sip-ability. Unlike most other botanical formulas, AMASS actually tells you exactly what's in their spirit — for Riverine, that's the following 14 botanicals: Juniper, Coriander, Orris Root, Angelica Root, Lemon Peel, Cardamom, Sorrel, Cucumbers, Apple, Mint, Parsley, Sumac, Rosemary, and Thyme.
How to drink it: At once earthy and bright, this spirit can do a lot. It's effortless to drink with a splash of tonic, owing to its gin-like infusion of juniper and coriander ... but it has great potential as the base for an NA craft cocktail, too. We'd like to pair it with a rosemary-infused simple syrup and experiment from there.
What it is: While we're on the topic of "gin-like" spirits ... Monday Gin is really designed to be a 1:1 replacement for the alcoholic gin you're used to. It's a clear spirit made with juniper extract, cucumber extract, and coriander extract to mimic the taste of a traditional London dry gin. It even has that authentic, warming "kick" at the back of the throat that an alcoholic gin has — which is an outlier in the NA spirits world — but it's sweeter on the front-end.
How to drink it: In short, drink it as you would gin. Pair with tonic or soda, or mix up a Tom Collins. While it certainly can be sipped on the rocks, we would recommend pairing it with something to give it a little more heft.
What it is: Aperitif drinkers will appreciate Ghia's bitter and complex flavor — and design aficionados will like its retro-cool bottle and branding attention to detail. The brand touts nervines, "the medicinal plants used for centuries to slow stress and bring on energy," as its star ingredient (along with a special blend of botanicals), but we didn't notice as pronounced an effect as Kin's "euphorics" when we tried Ghia. Still, the flavor is strong enough to stand on its own — making Ghia a good replacement for celebratory sips.
How to drink it: Ghia can be enjoyed straight out of the bottle, or with a variety of sodas and syrups — the brand has created an extensive recipe guide to help spark inspiration and get you started.
What it is: As it says on the bottle, RITUAL Zero-Proof is in the business of making alternatives to the booze you know and love (but maybe want to love a little less). This Tequila alternative is made from the same stuff as actual tequila — agave, charred oak — with a hint of lime and salt, making it a shoo-in for Margs and other tropical treats.
How to drink it: If Margaritas aren't your thing, try it in other traditionally tequila-based mixed drinks like Palomas or Bloody Marias.
What it is: Probably the first NA spirit to get on the mainstream radar, Seedlip's distilled drinks have popped up on many a bar's shelves as an olive branch to non-drinkers. The brand now makes three different formulas: Garden 108, inspired by the English countryside with herbs and hay (yes, hay) notes; Spice 94, an invigorating mix of Jamaican Allspice berry, Cardamom, and citrus; and Grove 42, a warm, citrus blend with a hint of heat from Japanese Sansho Peppercorn.
How to drink it: The brand distinctly advises not sipping Seedlip neat — rather, they suggest topping a pour of any of its formulas with some high-quality ginger ale. Of course, the drinks can also be used as a cocktail base — a recipe that uses a little sugar or honey syrup will help open up the flavors and let them shine.
Emily Bihl is a freelance writer and sometimes-songwriter who can invariably be found rearranging furniture in a domicile somewhere along the Mississippi River. She lives with her black labrador Selkie and a small army of homemade ceramics, and has not willingly closed a browser tab since 2011.