Going sober this October? Here’s our guide to the best non-alcoholic drinks to see you through
By Rebecca Pitcairn
The sparkling ‘wine’
When I was pregnant I tried A LOT of non-alcoholic wines, most of which went straight down the drain. The still wines were completely inconsumable (hence why you unfortunately won’t find any on this list) but a few of the sparkling were bearable. I didn’t come across Oddbird (main picture) until my third trimester but it was the sparkling wine that got me through Christmas and a couple of family engagements. Made from 100% Chardonnay grapes, the blanc de blancs is demi-sec so sweeter that most usual Brut styles of sparkling wine but there’s a decent amount of citrus on the nose and palette with a slight vanilla to the finish making for a very enjoyable fizz alternative.
The hoppy ‘lager’
There are lots of ways to create low alcohol beer, but many methods involve either changing the recipe or the way it is brewed, and this often alters the flavour. Adnams uses a de-alcoholiser; which allows them to brew and ferment their beers as usual and then remove the alcohol while leaving all the lovely flavours from fermentation in the beer.
They do this with their GhostShip IPA to reduce its alcohol content from 4.5% to 0.5% but as it’s still brewed with Pale Ale, Rye Crystal and Cara Malts with a blend of Citra and other American hops you still get that famous citrus flavours of lemon and lime.
Available from Adnams.co.uk RRP £26.99 for 24 x 330ml cans.
The ‘No’spresso Martini
The newest flavour from Macmillan’s Sober October headline partner, Mocktails, this can of Espress0% Martini is a rich indulgence of cold brew espresso with chocolate undertones and vanilla. It comes in a nitro-charged can, meaning the drink is not carbonated but contains a clever widget that helps create a light foam on opening, (much like the effect achieved after a cocktail shake) and, as non-alcoholics cocktails go, is a pretty good dupe for a real Espresso Martini, perhaps just a little sweeter.
It’s available, along with four other flavours – Mockapolitan, Mockarita, Mockscow Mule, and Sansgria – from www.drinkmocktails.co.uk (RRP £26.99 for 12) and you can get 15% off during Sober October with the code GOSOBER15
The ‘gin’ game-changer
Salcombe Distilling Co. (SDCo.)is renowned for its gin, which has won numerous awards since it launched six years ago but, eager to cater for non-drinkers and those wanting an alternative to gin, the company launched New London Light (NLL) in 2020.
Crafted by SDCo.’s expert distillers, NLL aims to challenge the process and bring innovative flavour combinations with its portfolio of three non-alcoholic spirits. The distillery’s first gin-inspired concoction, First Light, has won numerous plaudits but it is Midnight Sun, which combines wild coastal berries, fresh kelp and pine that really ticks the boxes for us at this time of year. Notes of elderflower and berry give it that recognisable traditional gin flavour but the Nordic pine and touch of salinity from the kelp and samphire help give it an autumnal twist.
Available from from salcombegin.com, RRP £27.50
The rum alternative
Founded by Ellie Webb, the only solo female founder in the No & Low drinks category here in the UK, Caleño alcohol-free spirits are inspired by the vibrant flavours of Colombia.
Packed with the complex tropical flavours of Colombia, ‘Dark & Spicy’ is the perfect non-alcoholic spiced rum alternative. Caleño recommends serving with ginger ale over ice and garnished with a wedge of lime but we liked it as an alternative to a good old rum and coke.
Caleño is available from M&S, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Ocado, Amazon and on www.calenodrinks.com, RRP £18.
The feel-good option
We all know drinking less alcohol can boost your health but there’s another category in the no and low drinks market that is not only free from alcohol but also contains gut-boosting benefits.
Fermented in London, Agua de Madre is founded by foodie and film producer Nicola Hart and is the only water kefir on the market with billions of live cultures per 100ml, trace alcohol and just nine kcals per 100ml. The key ingredient is the mother culture discovered 2000 years ago in Mexico, which is added to organic fruit and ginger and left to do its thing, creating a naturally probiotic water kefir.
Agua de Madre has the same amount of live cultures as most milk kefir, but with none of the vinegary mouth feel of kombucha. It comes in various flavours, such as Lemon & Ginger, Pomegranate & Hibiscus, Passion Fruit & Raspberry, and Elderflower & Apple, but Blood Orange Bitters, which was created in partnership with mindful drinks expert Camille Vidal and awarded gold at the International Wine & Spirit Competition, is our favourite.
Available from Selfridges, Planet Organic, and aguademadre.co.uk, rrp £28 for 8 x 33cl bottles £28 or £10 for a 75cl single bottle.