Food & Drink

Pop Bottles Without the Alcohol This Holiday Season

Zero-proof mocktails to ring in comfort and joy.

non alcoholic spirits
Image by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist

The holidays are coming, and between the ongoing, surging pandemic and the political tension of a transition of power, you might want to reach for the booze. No judgment; everyone’s trying to get by as best as they can this year. But if you’re worried that your stress drinking is becoming a problem and want to cut back or stop altogether, you can still enjoy delicious beverages.

With a few dry Januarys under our belt and many people shifting to some form of cannabis over alcohol, the mocktail industry has really blossomed in recent years. Some options are completely zero-proof, others have been dealcoholized, typically to an A.B.V. below 0.5% (think kombucha levels here), and there’s even a brand that offers a unique, natural buzz. However they arrive at the destination, these drinks are finally, actually good.

Whether you’re newly sober, cutting back, or getting ahead on your New Year’s resolutions, here are the best ways to imbibe all the way to 2021.

For the home mixologist

Seedlip
Seedlip isn’t trying to approximate existing alcohol and that’s where it succeeds. Complex profiles in each of its three distilled non-alcoholic spirits lend themselves to endless varieties of specialty cocktails. For refined palates that love to explore, these spirits with trace amounts of alcohol provide an adventurous foundation.
 

For the lazy bartender

Curious Elixirs
If you don’t know your ratios or just can’t fathom doing math, even for a drink, at this point of the year, Curious Elixirs has you covered. The company makes four pre-made, zero-proof mocktails that can easily become five-star mixers. No. 1 is inspired by the Negroni while No. 2 is more tropical, sitting between a Pineapple Margarita and a Dark and Stormy. No. 3 isn’t safe for pregnant women due to the ashwagandha, but the rest of us can enjoy its gin-like, refreshing botanical and citrus notes. If Aperol Spritzes served as your end times, go-to drink, No. 4 should tide you over as your liver recovers.
 

If you want to feel something

Kin Euphorics
Kin is the most unique offering here and manages to taste great at the same time. Through adaptogens and nootropics, Kin’s products help you take the edge off without any alcohol or drugs. Newbies should still drink with caution to see how it makes them feel, and definitely should not mix it with any other substances. The drinks offer a chill but mentally sharp experience that can keep you on the wagon — just check with your doctor that it won’t interact with your medications.
 

For Tajin-rimmed margs

Ritual Tequila Alternative
This isn’t quite tequila, but it will absolutely scratch the itch if you’re craving a Spicy Margarita. Ritual tries to approximate a few liquors, but this is the closest and most enjoyable effort from the company. The smoky, zero-proof spirit performs well in a mocktail, but will slightly disappoint on its own.

For a bourbon-ish nod to the South

Spiritless Kentucky 74
Make no mistake, it’s hard to get non-alcoholic whiskey right. Instead of going for a direct simulacrum, Spiritless Kentucky 74 captures the South and everything it brings to bourbon cocktail. Sweet tea, citrus, and the smooth burn of ginger work together to trick your brain into pouring more of this low-A.B.V. spirit.
 

For G&Ts

Monday Gin
Gin is one of the most popular spirits non-alcoholic beverage companies like to imitate and few manage to get anywhere close. This juniper-forward, low-A.B.V. take from Monday is the cream of the crop, and makes great classic gin drinks whether you’re just splashing in some tonic water or serving up a Tom Collins.
 

An effortless rum dupe

Stryyk Not Rum
Rum isn’t always taken as seriously as it should be, so it’s refreshing to see Stryyk respect the spirit so well in its rendition. From mojitos to virgin tiki drinks, get the tropical vibes flowing with this zero-proof spirit. Relative newcomer Not Rum is so popular that it can be hard to get your hands on a bottle, but when you do, it’s worth it.
 

A strong Vermouth replacement

Lyre’s Aperitif Dry and Rosso
While we all wait for No Time to Die to eventually come out in theaters or streaming, shake or stir your martinis with Lyre’s Aperitif Dry or Rosso. Lyre’s makes a wide range of low-A.B.V., non-alcoholic spirits, and honestly, it’s pretty inconsistent. It’s aperitifs, however, are strong dupes capable of whipping up Martinis and Manhattans that will keep you sober enough to save the world.
 

A hard seltzer alternative

DRY Bubbly (Ginger)
Surely, your eyes are rolling as you think “this should just be regular, flavored seltzer.” But if the Claw is the law, you can’t just go back. Completely alcohol-free DRY is doing what LaCroix cannot: impart serious flavor. The ginger variation of DRY is a particularly ideal choice for holiday meals, imparting enough of a kick to mimic an alcohol burn without overwhelming the palate. 
 

If hoppier means happier at your house

Athletic Brewing Run Wild IPA
Non-alcoholic beer has its high and low points, but Athletic Brewing has really figured it out. Even with a personal apathy towards IPAs, the Run Wild IPA impresses. It doesn’t lose the hoppy heart of an IPA and also manages to not slide into soda territory — a slippery slope for competitors.
 

A zero-proof celebratory bubbly

TÖST
Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider is for kids only now that you know about TÖST. Everything about it feels like a celebration. It’s not too dry or sweet with just the right amount of effervescence and a flavor profile with multiple things to say. So many faux champagnes get close in several ways before missing the mark in one crucial area. TÖST is just a good time, and that’s all you should be thinking about when you raise your glass.

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J. Fergus is a lifestyle writer known for food, alcohol, cannabis, and tech coverage -- the modern rhombus of vices. Their words have graced the likes of FoodbeastTastemadeThe Manual, and Chowhound. Their words have also been known to disgrace Twitter.