Understanding Non Alcoholic Cocktails
There was a time when not drinking alcohol meant water, sugary soft drinks, something mixed with soda water or mocktails that just didn't quite hit the spot were the only options on the menu. Thankfully, those days are long gone (woo!). Not drinking alcohol has never been more exciting, thanks to all the no-and-low alcohol brands out there now offering drinks with all of the flavour and enjoyment of alcoholic drinks without alcohol, and we're here for it. Whether you're the designated driver, you're looking to reduce your alcohol or sugar intake, or if alcohol just isn't your thing, you deserve to enjoy delicious drinks too. That's why we're dropping everything you need to know about non-alcoholic or low-alcoholic cocktails.
The Rise Of No/Low Alcohol Drinks
What does alcohol-free drink mean?
Alcohol-free drink refers to a drink that contains a small percentage of alcohol, typically 0.5% ABV or less. Oh, ABV stands for Alcohol by Volume percentage, as in the percentage of the drink that contains alcohol, in case you were wondering. Another thing to note is that drinks with an ABV of under 0.5% in Europe and the USA are alcohol-free.
So, is this the same as non-alcoholic cocktails?
No, non-alcoholic cocktails (also known as virgin cocktails) don't contain any alcohol at all. Basically, non-alcoholic drinks are cocktail-style drinks mixed with fruits, soda water, soft drinks, syrups, herbs and zero alcohol to create different flavours and twists on alcoholic drinks like a Non-Alcoholic Mojito, (aka a No-jito!)
What’s the difference between a non-alcoholic and a low-alcohol drink?
Typically, low-alcohol cocktails are those with an ABV of between 0.05% and 1.2%. In the US, however, low-alcohol drinks have an ABV of between 0.5% and 7.5%.
Here are two more words low-alcohol cocktails go by -
De-alcoholised is used to describe a drink made similarly to a standard alcoholic beverage, but once the fermentation process is complete, the alcohol is extracted. These drinks should not be more than 0.5% ABV.
2. Reduced alcohol
These are much stronger than alcohol-free drinks or low-alcohol cocktails but with at least 30% less alcohol. This means the strength of reduced alcohol drinks is typically around halfway between alcohol-free and standard strength.
How are alcohol-free drinks made?
Alcohol-free drinks are made the same way as alcoholic drinks. The difference is that alcohol-free drinks use special types of malt and yeast with non-fermentable sugars (the fermentation is what creates the alcohol). This is so the process can be controlled so that the amount of alcohol created never goes over 0.5% ABV.
Are non-alcoholic and low-alcohol cocktails healthier?
The short answer is: it depends! If you are looking to reduce the amount of alcohol or alcohol-related calories in your diet, non-alcoholic or low-alcohol cocktails are a great way to do this. They provide the same great taste with a lower ABV. However, it's good to be aware of what you're mixing your drink with, too, whether it’s no, low or alcoholic, as calories in any drink don't just come from alcohol. Soft drinks, fruit juices and syrups can be high in sugar and calories, so if you want to keep an eye on things, consider a slimline tonic water or diet soda as your mixer instead. Whatever you pick, remember to enjoy your drink responsibly and have some cheeky snacks on hand too!
No-and-low alcohol drinks can still be tasty!
Just because a drink is non-alcoholic or has a low alcohol content, it doesn't mean it has to compromise on taste. With so many brands stepping up to create the most delicious drinks bursting full of flavour that taste just as good as alcoholic drinks, the list of innovative no-and-low cocktails is endless. It's also worth noting that the level of the tastiness of your drinks depends on the quality of the ingredients. Mocktails made with lower-quality ingredients can taste dull and flat, which of course, you don't want. So aim for fresh, vibrant and flavourful ingredients whenever you can.
Get creative with glassware and garnishes
Whether you're sober-curious, cutting down on drinking on a weeknight, or just aren't a fan of alcohol, you deserve a drink that wows the senses. Like a low-alcohol cocktail or mocktail that your tastebuds will enjoy, and one that looks good in your hand. Cocktails are all about substance and style, so getting creative with your garnishes adds to the enjoyment because you always smell your drink before it hits your lips, which strongly affects how you taste it.
Another idea is to play around with syrups. Honey water is an amazing alternative to sugar syrup, as it brings more of a rich flavour and is something you probably already have in the cupboard. Use boiling water to loosen the honey so it mixes well in the glass.
The appearance of your sip is also important. You can add things like edible flowers, decorative ice cubes, herbs and colourful fruits like pomegranate and pineapple to statement glassware to level up your cocktail. Just like alcoholic cocktails, most no-and-low cocktails can easily be mixed up in large batches by scaling up the cocktail recipe and mixing it in a punch bowl or pitcher, which means that you don't have to play bartender all night when hosting.
The future of no/lo alcohol drinks
With new flavours and products constantly popping up, the future of non-alcoholic and low-alcoholic cocktails looks exciting! We predict flavours like tropical fruits, berries, citrus and herbs to crop up, and other innovative drinks offering complex flavour profiles and a craft-like experience. We also see functional beverages with options that provide added health benefits and wellness properties and contain unique ingredients like adaptogens, probiotics and superfoods. Whether you're looking to cut back on alcohol or just try something new, there's never been a better time to explore the world of non-alcoholic and low-alcoholic drinks.
Delicious alcohol-free brands
Thanks to the citrus and juniper taste of Tanqueray 0.0%, and the subtly sweet flavour of Gordon's Alcohol-Free, there are now so many incredible no-and-low alcohol drinks options to choose from that 'not drinking' doesn't mean you're missing out on tasty drinks. We've rounded up a few of our favourites below if you're looking for great brands to try.
1. Gordon's 0.0%
All the zest of Gordon's, just without the alcohol. Gordon's 0.0% is created with the same botanicals used in Gordon's London Dry Gin, which are then expertly blended to capture the true essence of Gordon's.
Recommended Gordon's cocktail: Gordon's 0.0% and Tonic
2. Tanqueray 0.0 %
If your tastebuds enjoy drinks with vanilla and an elegant floral finish, Tanqueray 0.0 % is the one for you. This delicious alcohol-free drink is created by distilling the same botanicals used in Tanqueray London Dry Gin. They're individually immersed in water, heated and then distilled before being expertly blended together to capture the essence of Tanqueray.
Recommended Tanqueray cocktail: Tanqueray 0.0 % and Tonic
Top 5 alcohol-free drinks to try!
We're all about crowd-pleasing, tasty no-and-low cocktails. From fresh and fruity to citrus-forward and crisp, we suggest you try these 5 alcohol-free cocktail recipes for your next at-home event.
1. Garden Highball
Elevate your home bar with the Garden Highball! This non-alcoholic twist on the classic Tom Collins combines zesty citrus, elderflower cordial, fresh apple, and bubbly soda water. Refreshing and perfect for any occasion!
What you need:
- 50ml Tanqueray 0.0%
- 50ml Cloudy apple juice
- 25ml elderflower cordial
- 10ml Lemon juice
- Soda water
- 1/4 cucumber and mint spring for garnish
- Chop your cucumber into a few long and thin discs
- Add 50ml Tanqueray 0.0% to a shaker with 50ml cloudy apple juice, 20ml Elderflower cordial and 10ml lemon juice
- Pop a couple of cucumber discs in there for added freshness
- Add ice to the shaker and give it a good old shake before straining it into a highball glass full of ice
- Garnish with a fresh cucumber disc and mint sprig
- Top the glass with a splash of soda for some effervescence
2. Shirley Temple Float
Experience the thriving world of non-alcoholic cocktails with the Shirley Temple Float! This indulgent and fun dessert-style drink adds an extra layer of delight to your dinner or becomes a showstopper at the bar. Get ready for a creative and delicious treat!
What you will need:
- 60ml orange juice
- 1 tablespoon grenadine
- 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream, softened slightly
- 175ml lemon-lime soda
- 2 maraschino cherries for garnish
- Pour orange juice into the bottom of a soda glass
- Pour grenadine slowly down the side of the glass so it slides to the bottom
- Carefully spoon ice cream on top of orange juice and grenadine
- Fill the remainder of the glass with lemon-lime soda
- Garnish with cherries
- Serve immediately with a milkshake spoon and straw.
3. Alcohol-Free Mojito
Embrace the refreshing vibes of an Alcohol-Free Mojito! This delightful and zesty mocktail brings all the classic flavours of a traditional Mojito without alcohol. Sip on this cool and invigorating beverage for a truly satisfying and guilt-free experience.
What you will need:
- 40ml Soda Water
- 30ml Apple Juice
- 20ml Lime Juice
- 15ml Elderflower Cordial
- Crushed ice
- Mint sprig and leaves
- Lime wedges
- Press down with a muddler on 6 mint leaves in the bottom of a tall glass to extract the juices and flavour
- Using a jigger, measure 30ml of apple juice, 20ml lime juice and 15ml elderflower cordial into a tall glass
- Fill the glass with crushed ice and stir the drink with a bar spoon
- Top the drink with 40ml soda water
- Place a sprig of mint at an angle against the rim of the glass to garnish
4. Virgin Strawberry Daiquiri
This blended non-alcoholic cocktail is bursting with fresh and vibrant flavours that will tickle your taste buds. With options to customize using pineapple, watermelon, or passionfruit, this drink is a perfect choice for a delightful and refreshing treat.
What you will need:
- 340g frozen strawberries
- 60ml freshly squeezed lime juice
- 45ml simple syrup
- Lime wedge and sugar for the rim
- Strawberries for garnish
- To prepare the rim, rub the rim of the glass with the lime wedge
- With the sugar on a saucer, dip either half or the entire rim of the glass in the sugar to coat
- Put ice, strawberries, simple syrup, and lime juice in a blender and blend until desired consistency
- After removing the pitcher from the blender, stir and combine any settled ingredients Pour into prepared glass
- Garnish with strawberries
5. Gin Sour
Elevate your cocktail game with a non-alcoholic Gin Sour! The addition of egg whites or aquafaba brings a velvety texture to this classic drink, enhancing your drinking experience. Indulge in the delightful flavours and smoothness of this refreshing concoction, and don't forget to experiment by adding some fresh berries for a twist of fruity goodness.
What you will need:
- 50ml Gordon's 0.0%
- 25ml Fresh lemon juice
- Egg white or 20ml aquafaba or Mrs Better's Bitters Miraculous Foamer for a vegan alternative
- 15ml Simple syrup
- Fresh lemon
- A twisted lemon peel for garnish
- Add 50ml Gordon's 0.0% to your shaker along with 25ml fresh lemon juice and 15ml simple syrup
- Add 1 egg white or 20ml aquafaba Mrs Better's Bitters Miraculous Foamer for a vegan alternative
- Close your shaker and gently shake to activate the texture
- Open the shaker, add plenty of ice, and give it a hard shake
- Strain into a rocks glass over ice and garnish with a lemon twist
Alcohol-free and non-alcoholic drinks food pairings
Going booze-free doesn't mean your meal pairing has to be boring. When pairing your drink with food, you'll want your drink to either mirror or contrast the ingredients in your meal. Citrusy cocktails mixed with tonics go well with salads and seafood dishes, especially shellfish like prawns and crab.
Non-alcoholic and low-alcoholic cocktails come with exciting options that cannot be missed! As we've covered, there's a difference between the terms, so checking the labels is always a good idea. Alcohol-free drinks contain a small amount of alcohol, so they're not suitable if you're looking to avoid alcohol altogether, and non-alcoholic spirits come with no alcohol, fewer calories and less sugar. With lots of innovative brands around, it's nice to have so many creative options on the menu other than water or a sugary soft drink that doesn't compromise on flavour and looks pretty too. Let's toast to that!