Recent reports show that the UK has never been more sober. The number of Britons who do not drink at all has risen by 35% in recent years. Whilst the trend of low and non-alcohol beers and spirits has been spearheaded by millennials and their desire to live a healthier lifestyle, it seems other generations are also jumping on board the sober wagon and are on the lookout for non-boozy alternatives. With no shortage of summer rooftop parties and barbecues coming up, we’ve tried and tested some of the brands that are blazing the trail in the low and non-alcohol market to make sure you can join in on all the fun while having an alcohol-free summer.
Rude Health Kombucha
A pioneer in the healthy food market, Rude Health is probably best known for its line of all-natural granola, muesli, and dairy alternatives. One of the recent additions to their portfolio is their Rude Health Kombucha. The sparkling fermented tea is originally from the Manchuria region in China and is made by fermenting tea, sugar, bacteria, and yeast. We tried their original Kombucha along with the ginger-flavoured variant. Kombucha is often linked to gut health, and we could feel the fizzy powers at work almost immediately. Both flavours were very refreshing, but if you aren’t used to the vinegary flavour of kombucha, opt for the ginger version, which also packs a mean munch.
Perhaps the brand with the most captivating branding from those we tried was Lucky Saint. With a solemn nun wistfully looking away as she clutches a bottle of Lucky Saint between her praying hands, our curiosity was definitely piqued. The premium non-alcoholic beer was created by Luke Boase, who immersed himself in the science of brewing on his quest to produce alcohol-free beer that was worth drinking. His search brought him to Germany, where he eventually found a brewer who shared his vision of changing the way people perceived and experienced alcohol-free beer. Lucky Saint’s 0.5% unfiltered lager is made from Bavarian barley, single-use yeast, and Hallertau hops. It was delicious, full of flavour, and left us amazed that what we were drinking was non-alcoholic. Lucky Saint.
Nirvana Brewery was founded in 2017 by a family of beer lovers who sought to create high-quality alcohol-free craft beer. The brewery now produces a range of styles from stouts to IPAs and pale ales, and even the world’s first kombucha beer. The beers are made with 100% natural ingredients and are full in flavour. The team sent over a number for us to try: their flagship lager with biscuit notes and a nectar finish called FitBeer (0.3%), the smooth and easy Karma (0.5%), the spice-forward Sutra (0.5%), and Ananda (0.5%) the experimental sour Tantra pale ale and green tea kombucha. Though every bottle in the selection left us pleasantly surprised at how they managed to keep the amazing flavours and hoppiness without the alcohol, the Sutra with it’s tropical notes was a definite favourite.
With a heritage that can be traced back to ancient Persia, Xachoh (Za-Ko) is a company that has used the secrets of Silk Road to create a line of pure, and naturally alcohol-free spirits. Founder Mohamad Djahanbakhsh is proud that his elixir of enlightenment and innovation, distilled in the UK using herbs and spices, has been so well-received by customers seeking a different but purposeful drinking experience. We tasted samples of Xachoh’s Blend No.5 and Blend No.7. No.5 is a clear liquid which is labelled as being intense and fragrant. The strong flavours are a result of botanicals like star anise, ginger, camomile, long pepper, turmeric, barberry, and rosemary. The aroma hits you from the get-go and we decided to serve this with ginger ale and a slice of cucumber. No.7 is the rich and exotic option with a caramel colour and flavours of ginger, mace, cinnamon, crystal dark malt, star anise, saffron, and sumac blend. We found this was best served neat over ice to truly enjoy the unique sweetness of the drink.
And for those times when you do feel like having a bit of a booze but don’t want the nasty hangover that follows, we tested our Survivor, an alcohol health supplement that was developed by an ex-VP of the Red Cross and one of Europe’s leading nutraceutical manufacturers. The team at Survivor aimed to formulate a product that would combat the harmful effects of alcohol consumption. We decided to try Survivor on the evening of a wedding where alcohol was flowing freely. We followed the instructions and took 2 Survivor capsules for every four drinks consumed and an extra two capsules before going to bed. The verdict? A significantly fresher start to the morning and despite still feeling quite tired, no hangover was recorded.
Not sure how you can survive your summer without an Aperol spritz in hand? Make the switch with the non-alcoholic sustainable aperitif brand, Everleaf. Developed by bartender and conservation biologist Paul Mathew, Everleaf uses a combination of 18 different plants, such as vanilla sourced from small-scale farmers in Madagascar and vetiver from Haiti, where he works with an organisation that helps empower local women. One unique quality of Everleaf is its texture; the thick mouthfeel gives the cordial body and fullness. We enjoyed Everleaf mixed with soda and noted that botanicals like saffron, iris, and gentian gave it a natural bittersweet flavour that was perfect as a summertime spritzer.
Borne out of the imaginations of a restaurateur, a chemist, and an inventor, the Temperance Spirit Company and their Teetotal Drinks cater to drinkers who are looking for better non-alcoholic options. Working on the ethos to create drinks that looked, fizzed, and tasted like the real thing, they came up with the Teetotal G’n’T and the Teetotal Cuba Libre. The G’n’T has only 52 calories per bottle and is less than 0.5% ABV. Inspired by the flavours of a classic gin and tonic, the Teetotal version uses cane sugar, carbonated water, natural botanical and citrus flavours to ensure you won’t be missing that kick of alcohol. The Cuba Libre, on the other hand, uses a superior blend of Caribbean flavours, spices, and premium cola to give that full-bodied essence just like the original.
Winner of the prettiest and most vibrant branding was Caleño by founder Ellie Webb. Inspired by the colours and vibrant culture in South America, Ellie sought to bring the flavours of her native Colombia to life in the form of a zesty non-alcoholic, tropical free-spirit. Caleño’s Juniper & Inca Berry spirit is steam-distilled using 10 different botanicals. We poured ourselves a glass of Caleño & Tonic which absolutely satisfied any G&T craving we might have had. The sweet flavours of the Inca berry really stood out, whilst elements of juniper and citrus flavours helped cut through the sweetness and combined beautifully with the tonic. Some other suggested cocktails are the Tropi-ca-leño with lime and pineapple juice and the Passionfruit Party with lemon juice, passionfruit syrup, and tonic.
Having launched less than a year ago, Sea Arch is one of the newer players in the non-alcoholic game. Originating from the Southwest coast of England, the non-alcoholic alternative for gin lovers embraces the flavours and freshness of its home. Their slogan “more beautiful without” invites consumers to enjoy the spirit that is made even better because the alcohol has been taken away. Fine natural botanicals such as juniper, cardamom, coriander, citrus fruits, and locally harvested sea kelp make up the unique blend of ingredients. Sea Arch’s co-founder and director, Geoff Yates, sent us a sample of their newest blend with intensified flavours and the addition of samphire. We poured ourselves a Sea & T and were immediately transported to the seaside. The crisp finish and playful flavours of Sea Arch were delightful and complemented the bitterness of the tonic. Eco-warriors will also be happy to know that the Sea Arch team is against single-use plastic, creating their bottles with solvent-free paint and using recycled card for their packaging.
Smashed by Drynks
Drynks Unlimited is a British manufacturing, sales and marketing company that is all-in on the non-alcoholic movement. They recently invested a further £1 million in a revolutionary cool vacuum distillation process (CVD), the UK’s only state-of-the-art dealcoholising technology which guarantees the retention of the drink’s character and flavour. We tested out the cider and citrus beer from their Smashed range. The Smashed Cider was refreshing, punchy and had the crisp taste of English apples. The Smashed Citrus beer was a great seasonable option with the nutty taste of English malt complemented by citrus notes.
“Say no to compromise and yes to everything else”. Zero-proof alcohol brand Stryyk encourages you to live your best life the way you want to, but Strykk the hangover. Their CEO launched a cocktail company in the late 90s and just a few years ago decided it was time for a range of drinks that allowed you to enjoy the party whilst still remembering everything that happened. Their range includes the Not Rum, Not Gin, and Not Vodka drinks. We brought a bottle of Not Vodka to a BBQ and mixed it with a premium tonic. Many partygoers were shocked when we revealed that it was, in fact, non-alcoholic vodka. The Stryyk version is 100% natural with no added sugar or flavours and contains no allergens either. The blend of flavours includes capsicum, cucumber, and menthol, and makes for a delicious addition to any celebration.
Keen to lay off the vino and the added calories it brings? Outfox Drinks is a company on a mission to make dry drinking better. For the designated drivers and those who want to feel included in rounds at the pub, they have designed Outfox White and Outfox Rose, which use French and Italian grapes blended with spring water and notes of Sauvignon. Though it does not have the same punch that regular wine has, the grape flavours really come out and the drinking experience is easy, clean, and smooth. Outfox also boasts only a quarter of the calories in a glass of wine and half the sugar found in tonic water.
A one-stop-shop for all your low and non-alcohol needs, Light Drinks is a leading online retailer that serves as a marketplace for some of the top beverages that won’t get you drunk and will also help you lay off the calories. Every drink in the store is tried and tested by their team of experts to ensure only the highest quality products make it into your shopping cart. We unanimously agreed that the selection we received from Light Drinks was absolutely top class! Our favourites were the hoppy Brooklyn Special Effects lager, the dry-hopped Pistonhead Flat Tire, and the bright and tasty Drink’in the Sun by Mikeller.
Dorset Ginger Co.
Known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, ginger truly is a wonder spice. With this in mind, The Dorset Ginger Company was born. Whilst it was founded by a local family butcher in 1985, it has since moved through a few owners before eventually landing in the capable hands of Nick and Timi. Based in Lytchett Matravers, just outside of Poole in Dorset, the company produces a range of award-winning non-alcoholic ginger drinks along with a Sicilian lemonade. The drinks were absolutely delicious on their own, though Nick and Timi told us that people also use them in cocktails and mocktails. Whilst each drink had varying strengths (with the Extra Strong Ginger being the strongest in the UK), some incorporated other complementary flavours like cinnamon and apple. We loved the kick that the drinks had and we also felt that the ginger properties were great for our digestive systems.