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10 Best Nonalcoholic Drinks, According to Bon Appétit Editors

by TopBusinessView

Not so long ago, the only nonalcoholic drink options for those not imbibing were sodas, sparkling waters, or spiffed-up fruity concoctions shudderingly dubbed “mocktails.” That time is no longer. More and more brands are entering the nonalcoholic beverage space, launching everything from booze-free wine, spirits, and beers to ready-to-drink nonalcoholic cocktails—which means there are now canned and bottled zero-proof drinks that actually feel like adult beverages.

Whatever your reason for not drinking alcohol, we’ve rounded up some of the best no-ABV beverages that mimic the layered, balanced flavor profiles we look for in any good drink. Want a nonalcoholic spirit that can replace the gin in your G&Ts and gimlets (and look stunning on your bar cart)? How about a fizzy rosé dupe or a line of nonalcoholic beers that can go toe-to-toe with the best that craft breweries have to offer? Or maybe you’ve never had a drop of alcohol in your life, and you’re simply looking to expand your roster of fun, tasty bevs that pair well with food. We’ve got you covered on all fronts.

When I’m taking a break from drinking and six o’clock rolls around, I want something special, festive, and cocktail-esque to help me transition from day to night. Right now, that something is Ghia’s Le Spritz, a sparkling canned beverage with all the bitter complexity of an aperitivo but none of the booze. The liquid is the color of a dusky, unfiltered rosé, and the bubbles are present but gentle. Like any good pre-dinner drink, Le Spritz whets your appetite. There’s sweetness from Riesling grape juice and fig concentrate; citrusy and herbaceous notes thanks to yuzu, lemon balm, and rosemary; and a bitter wallop from gentian root, a flowering Alpine plant showcased in aperitifs like Suze and Salers. The newest addition to the Le Spritz line-up adds a squeeze of lime juice and a touch of salt to the original formula. It’s so complex that it feels like a thoroughly adult beverage, even though it’s zero-proof. —MacKenzie Chung Fegan, senior commerce editor

I enjoy a glug of full-bodied red as much as the next person. But out to dinner one recent night, I wanted something without the boozy kick. On the nonalcoholic drinks list, just below the Diet Coke, I spotted something called a “Phony Negroni” from Brooklyn-based distillery St. Agrestis. The bartender served it over ice with an orange peel, giving it the same special treatment that a non-phony negroni would receive, and after my first sip of the ruby red cocktail, I can’t say that I missed the booze. By starting with the same raw botanicals used in their alcoholic version of the cocktail, St. Agrestis has managed to translate the essence of a negroni, so that it doesn’t feel like you’re missing out on its big, bold, and bitter glory. —Kate Kassin, editorial operations associate

As far as nonalcoholic spirits go, I love the earthy, almost bitter qualities of Aplos’s Calme. Made with both yuzu and calamansi, its bold and bright citrusy flavor makes it delicious enough to enjoy solo over ice, but I’m partial to serving it with a splash of tonic or sparkling water as a mixer for a more mellowed-out vibe. I haven’t had a chance to buy their sister product, Aplos Arise, but if Calme is any indication, I’m sure it’ll be worth every penny. Whereas Calme is infused with broad-spectrum hemp (and contains CBD and other cannabinoids, but no THC), Arise boasts adaptogenic ingredients like ginseng and moringa seed extract paired with notes of agave, lemon verbena, and black Sarawak peppercorns. —Zaynab Issa, associate food editor

For a booze-free sparkling wine moment, I’m a big fan of both white and rosé options from Töst. Rather than a straight wine dupe, these are sweetened white tea beverages flavored with ginger and elderberry or white cranberry, depending on which flavor you opt for, and plenty of fizz. They taste something like a light ginger beer, but with a floral, honeyed backbone. Straight from the bottle they pair great with any meal, but for a cocktail hour, I think they’re a touch sweet. That’s easily fixed, though, with a splash of seltzer and maybe a dash of bitters, turning the drink into a Champagne cocktail experience. —Joe Sevier, cooking & SEO editor

Töst Non-Alcoholic Sparkling Beverage

Seedlip Garden became a mainstay of my bar cart after Julia Bainbridge touted it in her alcohol-free cocktail book Good Drinks. Distilled from botanicals, this no-ABV “spirit” is made with peas, hay, spearmint, rosemary, and thyme. It’s aromatic, mildly floral, and a great stand-in for gin if you’re doing Dry January—but even folks who’ve never tasted booze can appreciate its vegetal fragrance that reminds me of springtime. It shines without needing to fuss with too many add-ins or garnishes: I like it with some tonic water and basil for a crisp, simple nonalcoholic drink (jazzed up with a cucumber ribbon like Bainbridge calls for in her book), but a spritz of lime or any herb you have on hand can make for a refreshing pick-me-up. —Antara Sinha, associate cooking editor

Are you even a celebrity at this point if you don’t have your own alcohol brand? But leave it to trailblazer Katy Perry to launch a line of non-alcoholic bevs. De Soi (pronounced, Frenchily, “swah”) comes in three flavors, all of which claim adaptogenic properties thanks to ingredients like maca, ashwagandha, and L-theanine. Personally I can’t tell my reishi from my rhodiola, but I drink De Soi anyway because it’s tasty—particularly the Purple Lune flavor, which is all earthy berries with a touch of not-too-perfumey rose. Like any good apéritif, it’s bitter but balanced. A variety pack of all three flavors, which in addition to Purple Lune includes the herbal-citrusy Golden Hour and the strawberry-forward Champignon Dream, comes in cans or 750 mL bottles. I prefer the cans, since I tend to only drink a cocktail-sized pour at a time and the soft effervescence can fade in the larger-format bottle. —M.C.F.

After a few traumatic keg stand experiences, I never thought I’d be the type of girl who “genuinely enjoys the taste of beer.” But thanks to the rise of craft brewing and my own growing appreciation for bitterness in all forms (coffee, dark chocolate, etc.), I’m now a certified Beer Girl. But I’m also a certified Low Tolerance Girl, which is why I love the beers from Athletic Brewing, a nonalcoholic brewery that’s big on craftsmanship. If you prefer a lighter beer, try their Upside Dawn Golden Ale; crafted to remove gluten, it has a citrusy, floral-leaning flavor, without the lingering, wheaty heaviness of even the palest of ales. If you’re a craft beer die-hard, go for the Free Wave Hazy IPA, which is pleasantly bitter and tremendously hoppy—minus the usual headrush from those high-ABV bad boys. Now I can enjoy as many IPAs as I please. Low Tolerance Beer Girls unite! —Zoe Denenberg, associate cooking & SEO editor

Athletic Brewing Non-Alcoholic Beer, 6-Pack

When I get home from work during the week, I like to fix myself a drink with Element Pineapple-Turmeric Shrub, which gives me all the satisfaction of a cocktail, minus the booze. A shrub is vinegar that’s been infused with ripe fruit and sugar, resulting in a tart-sweet syrup that adds tangy complexity to a cocktail—or in the case of my weeknight routine, good plain seltzer. This golden-hued one by Element is like eating spears of sunny-sweet pineapple on a balmy beach. The addition of turmeric lends a subtle grounding flavor that, along with the acidic vinegar, makes for a perfectly balanced drink. It’s potent stuff—all you need is a tablespoon or two mixed into a glass of seltzer on ice for a gulpable fruit drink. —Christina Chaey, contributor

Element Pineapple Turmeric Shrub

I came across Stappi Red Bitter (sometimes also called Stappj) one day while buying pizza ingredients at my local Italian market. The small slender bottles filled with liquid the color of cherry cough syrup looked like something that Alice had drunk in Wonderland. I had to try them. That night I sliced an orange, cracked open a seltzer and a Stappi, and made myself a ruby red spritz. It was heaven: bitter, punchy, the soda thick enough to swirl and mix into a convincing cocktail. It’s a little sweeter than Campari or Aperol, but it’s the best amaro substitute I’ve found. —Katie Rice, contributor

When I find myself wanting the ritual of pouring a cold beverage into fancy stemware, I turn to nonalcoholic Proxies. Packaged in wine bottles with colorful labels, they’re made from fruit juice, tea, spices, and bitters and have all the complexity that you’d normally find in wine. Bottles come with descriptions like “McIntosh apples mesh with maple syrup, spruce tips, Labrador tea, and spicy cedar to capture a spring walk.” While Proxies mimic the experience of pouring and drinking wine, they aren’t claiming to perfectly replicate a particular type of vino (they’ve got their own good thing going). But if you’re open to an experience that’s distinct from other nonalcoholic wine options out there, and you’re looking to be more conscientious about your booze consumption, then you’ve met your match. —Emma Orlow, contributor

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