Millennials, or those born between the years 1981 and 1996, are reportedly seeking out spirits sans booze. Whether or not this trend is as widespread as media reports might have us believe, there are at least a dozen non-alcoholic spirits brands on the market. Often compared to gin due to their use of botanicals and usefulness in cocktails, non-alcoholic spirits like Seedlip and MeMento are a facet of the “sober-curious” movement that may change consumer drinking habits.
VinePair rounded up as many no-proof booze brands as we could find and tasted them straight, as well as with ginger ale and tonic. None of these pack the heat of gin, but they are flavorful and aromatic in their own right. Here are four of our favorite non-alcoholic spirits on the market so far.
Seedlip’s recipes are inspired by “The Art of Distillation,” a 17th-century text devoted to apothecaries’ distilled herbal remedies (they were also non-alcoholic). The latter currently produces three non-alcoholic spirits, each with its own one-word description that acts as a cue for at-home mixologists and professional bartenders alike: “Aromatic,” “Herbal,” and “Citrus.” All are calorie-, sugar-, sweetenter-, and artificial-flavor-free.
Our tasting panel’s favorite was “Aromatic,” which is made with allspice berries, cardamom, grapefruit peel, lemon peel, oak bark, and cascarilla bark, and immediately evoked “Hot Toddy vibes.” Sweet, spicy chai aromas reminded another taster of fall, as cardamom and baking spices came from the glass. On the palate, this expression is more bitter than acidic, “like a warm, mulled wine,” one taster said.
The only brand on this list that actually makes a “virgin” version of an alcoholic gin, Herbie sent our panel on a journey. Sleepytime chamomile tea and floral aromas lead, deceptively, to a “watery” texture on the palate. “Watery, flower, then a teeny bit sweet,” said one panelist. Another likened its slightly silky finish to soap. Our panel enjoyed it with ginger ale, however, noting that “it feels more like a spirit when mixed.”
An entrancing outlier of the group, this spirit pours a deep, nearly opaque reddish brown. Aromas include dried fruit, apricot, blueberry, and cold-brew coffee. Flavors are intensely sweet, sour, and bitter all at once, inspiring comparisons from “over-steeped tea” to “health juice.” Neither is far off — Three Spirit, created by bartenders, says its aim was “to find a plant-based alternative that also helped you feel good.” It may just have succeeded.
This Italian non-alcoholic “aperitif” is made with four ingredients: rosa, lippia citriodora, rosmarinus officinalis, and helichrysum italicum. It’s perfumy aromas evoke rose petal and chamomile, and its silky, creamy texture gave it a “more spirit-like” mouthfeel. Mixed with ginger ale, it was one of our panelist’s favorite non-alcoholic spirits.