Monday, July 15, 2024

At Home or Out, Non-Alcoholic Spirits Elevate Booze-Free Cocktails

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As the idea of Dry January has become increasingly popular, the sober-curious are enjoying cocktails without the jolt of booze in bars and restaurants. Now they can tipple their own booze-free drinks (mocktails) at home, premixed in cans or bottles of non-alcoholic spirits. 

It looks and tastes like the real thing but this cocktail from AF isn’t an inebriate.(Courtesy Free AF)

Mocktails fall into two categories. The first and more commonly known is a drink made with juices and herbs for a sophisticated take on Shirley Temple—a juice box for grownups. The second have nonalcoholic spirits as their base, and are intended to taste like the real thing.

Made with botanicals, NA spirits are distilled with a special process to remove the alcohol, replicating the flavor of classic booze, including vodka, gin, whiskey and tequila. Others are along the lines of Italian aperitifs. All are intended to imitate the flavor of intoxicating libations. Try these drinks when you’re out on the town, or mix them at home with fixings purchased at your local brick-and-mortar store or online.

CLEARHEADED, a pop-up at Platform LA in Culver City, will provide the uninitiated an opportunity to try as well as buy NA alternatives. “You know your skin-care routine,” says founder Cait Madry, “now you can develop a sober-care routine.” Books from a variety of authors including The Dry Challenge and Zero Proof are for sale as well as alcohol-free spirits and wines.

CLEARHEADED pop-up at the Platform in Culver City.(Courtesy CLEARHEADED)

Activities will include Game Days on Tuesday and Movie Nights on Thursdays. It runs through January 31. Information: IG. Platform LA, 8850 Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232.

Greenbar, the first distillery in Los Angeles since Prohibition, offers a wide array of NA selections made with botanicals, herbs and spices, and are certified organic. Their selection includes non-alcoholic spritzers as well as no-booze highballs. The Greenbar cocktails, including UnGin + Tonic and UnRum + Cola, come premixed in cans.  

Locally made Greenbar offers cocktails in cans ready to serve. (Courtesy Greenbar Distillery)

What should you expect from these spirits? Julia Bainbridge, author of Good Drinks: Alcohol-Free Recipes for When You’re Not Drinking for Whatever Reason, says a proper NA drink must have a blend of acidity, sweetness, bitterness and salinity just as fully alcoholic spirits do. The botanical flavors play off one another, slowly coming to the forefront as you sip. A bourbon fan, or vodka enthusiast can find an NA substitute to please their particular palate. Tequila imbibers and others are discovering faux booze as well.

Due to the complicated processes necessary to create non-alcoholic spirts, as well as the botanicals used, these refreshments can be relatively expensive. For instance: ArKay Alcohol Free Vodka is $50 on Amazon, while Ritual Zero Proof Tequila is $29 and Monday Zero Alcohol Whiskey is $44.99. AF cans of ready-mixed NA cocktails are sold in packs. The Paloma and Cuba Libre 12- packs are $45 (Amazon). La Croix is cheaper, but where’s the fun in that?

Where to buy:

Greenbar Distillery

Free AF

Abstinence Spirits

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