If you’ve ever abstained from alcohol for longer than a few days to a week, you likely know how limited the choices are locally for non-alcoholic beer, wine and spirits. After doing the Eat Fit Alcohol Free for 40 Challenge during Lent earlier this year (and four years prior to that), as well as most recently Dry July, I started ordering a lot of items online.
It was obvious within the first couple of weeks of Lent that my taste-testing would exhaust local resources, which is limited to Fre alcohol-removed wines at most of the larger grocery chains (I found it at Winn-Dixie and didn’t care for it, but you might), Ariel non-alcoholic wine at Martin Wine Cellar (I’m also not a fan of this, but it was better than Fre) and various non-alcoholic beers from the big international and national beer brewers, such as Guinness’ Kaliber (tasty), Buckler (I’d drink it again) and the new Heineken 0.0 (perfect for summer), which are available at a lot of grocery and liquor stores.
Meanwhile, the European market is eons ahead of us here in the states with non-alcoholic wines from popular wineries such as Lindeman’s, myriad NA craft brews widely available and an exploding zero proof spirits market. Unfortunately, only some of these products are available in America. I’ve ordered and written in this space about Seedlip (which you can buy online or enjoy in cocktails at the vegan restaurant Seed in the Lower Garden District) and Ritual Zero Proof Gin and Tequila Alternative (also available online) and recommend both if you are teetotalling, on a break or just want sophisticated, non-alcoholic choices around the house for yourself on nondrinking days or for guests who are abstaining due to their religion, pregnancy, sports training, health or any other reason.
My own adventures in abstaining have changed the face of our home bar, which now includes both full and zero proof options. The zero proof distillers are as mindful about branding as their full-proof counterparts and create attractive label and bottle designs, so their products fit well together, if you are as concerned about esthetics as me.
Last week, I tested beers by Athletic Brewing Co. The Upside Dawn Golden and Cerveza Atletica Light Copper were such a huge hit, I already ordered more, including the Run Wild IPA (for Mark, who blew through the other two during his weekday abstaining). The labels are attractive, the beer is delicious and, bonus, each one is 70 calories or lower. They are courting health conscious, sporty types — and it’s working.
I’ve been sorely disappointed in the alcohol free and dealcoholized white, red and sparkling wines I’ve tried. Until a few weeks ago when I ordered a bottle of St. Regis Dealcoholized Sparkling Brut from Amazon. The reviews were overwhelmingly positive with most people reporting that it wasn’t a true brut, but not overly sweet and that it was perfect for mimosas in particular. I found it slightly sweet, but enjoyable on its own. That said, I liked it better after adding a few drops of bitters to it to mimic a classic champagne cocktail. This one is officially on my stock list while I power through the next few months, having decided to transition my Dry July into a Sober Summer.
Yesterday marked 30 days dry and if all goes well, I’ll top out at 100 in October. This means a few more months of taste-testing and expanding the zero-proof options in our home bar. I’m looking forward to sampling zero proof rums by Lyre’s, as well as the new-to-me Monday Gin, which has a gorgeous Art Deco design for its labels. I hope the “gin” is as fabulous as the label. Wish me luck!
Do you have a favorite non-alcoholic beer, wine or spirit? Share in comments or email email@example.com.