The best non-alcoholic and low-alcohol drinks taste tested
BBC Good Food Nov. 2020 (link to full article)
Drinks experts Richard Davie and Miriam Nice recommend their top picks for low- and alcohol-free beverages, including lagers, stouts, spirits, wines and kombucha.
Richard Davie is a brewer, writer and consultant with roots in home-brewing. When he’s not making his own beer and cocktails, he works at award-winning micro pub The Beer Shop @richarddaviebrews
Miriam Nice is a published author and illustrator. She has written more than 350 recipes for BBC Good Food @miriamjsnice
Richard and Miriam’s book, The Art of Drinking Sober (£12.99, Orion), is out now.
Where a decade ago low-alcohol drinks were often little more than a punchline, every year this category gets more exciting, as new entrants to the field bring out interesting innovations and the standard of the offering goes up across the board.
At the same time, we’re thinking more about drinking less, and perhaps being more open to the idea that a drink can be special even if it isn’t alcoholic. Newer low-alcohol beers and spirit substitutes are finding clever ways to communicate the intensity, complexity or satiety you’d associate with a cold lager or gin and tonic.
Alcohol-free spirits first came onto people’s radar in 2014 with Seedlip, who proudly stood up for a non-alcoholic gin-style product that cost £35 and required a trek to Selfridges. In the wake of the attention this drew, it and similar offerings are nowadays available in supermarkets up and down the country at rather less luxurious prices. In addition to gin, producers have reimagined alcohol-free equivalents to vermouth, amaro, amaretto and coffee liqueur, and the list continues to grow.
Non-alcoholic beer has improved greatly in the last few years, with both higher visibility and greater quality, so we’ve highlighted a few more of our favourites in that category.
What is alcohol-free?
Some of the entries below are labelled ‘low-alcohol’ at 0.5%, rather than ‘alcohol free’. In the UK, anything under half a percent alcohol is no longer restricted under licensing laws. At no more than 0.5%, it is unable to render you drunk and some breads and ripe fruit contain as much or more alcohol.
This has a really complex flavour profile, rich in ginger, rosemary and chamomile notes, softened by the sea buckthorn. Pairs brilliantly with tonic.
£18.99 per bottle (500ml) BUY NOW