Spending the festive season in all but lockdown has meant that, somewhat counterintuitively, this Christmas has been more excessive than most. After all, when it’s dark by 4pm and you’ve got nothing but a long night of Netflix stretched out in front of you, how better to make things feel more celebratory than by cracking out the cheese and opening a bottle of wine?
But the New Year is here and, with it, the urge to ditch the booze in the pursuit of a clearer mind and trimmer waist. If you’ve committed to Dry January this year, you’re far from alone. Four million people took part in 2020 and, accordingly, the market is now brimming with non-alcoholic alternatives to your favourite tipples. Here are some of our favourites…
Atopia Spiced Citrus
One of the early arrivals on the low-alcohol scene, Atopia clocks in at just 0.5% ABV – meaning an Atopia and tonic contains 75x less alcohol than a traditional gin and tonic. Created by William Grant & Sons' award-winning master distiller Lesley Gracie, Atopia is available in Spiced Citrus and Wild Blossom flavours but it’s the former we’d recommend if you’re looking for something to replace your classic gin. Distilled with juniper, coriander, orange, angelica root and lemon, it's a sophisticated pour that’s also perfect for use in low ABV cocktails.
How to serve: With lime cordial and a twist in a Spiced Citrus Gimlet.
Atopia Spiced Citrus, £24.95, Master of Malt
Salcombe Gin New London Light
Having launched its first gin in 2016, Salcombe Gin has been making waves over the past few years as a standout among a new generation of boutique gin producers making the spirit cool again. At the end of 2020 it launched its first non-alcoholic spirit, New London Light, based on the same distilling principles as its signature serves and the results are as close to traditional gin as your likely to come in the no- and low-alcohol market. Crisp, dry and complex on the palate, it’s full of notes of orange, lemon and ginger with a distinctive floral perfume you won’t be able to distinguish from your usual Friday night aperitif.
How to serve: Tonic, ice and a slice
New London Light, £27.50, Salcombe Gin
Maria & Craig’s CBD Botanical Spirit
Is going alcohol free not quite enough to fulfil your dreams of January wellness? Perhaps a non-alcoholic spirit boosted with wellbeing wonder-ingredient CBD will cut it. Created by the husband-and-wife team behind Cedar’s non-alcoholic alt-gin and Celtic Soul dark spirit, Maria & Craig’s CBD Botanical Spirit is distilled using juniper, sage, camomile and orange blossom and blended with premium broad spectrum CBD for a satisfying – and thoroughly relaxing – gin alternative. Its vibrant yellow bottle is also enough to brighten up even the darkest of January days.
How to serve: With your favourite tonic, fresh orange peel and plenty of ice.
CBD Botanical Spirit, £22.99, Maria & Craig’s
Three Spirit Social Elixir
OK, so the name might make you want to gag, but the ‘Social Elixir’ from London-based herbalists Three Spirit promises to be both good for you and the environment. Concocted from coconut vinegar, green tea, caraway seeds and a South American super-herb called ‘Yerba Mate’ – sounds fun – among other ingredients, this non-alcoholic aperitif is gluten-free, cruelty-free, 100 per cent vegan and arrives in zero-plastic, recyclable packaging. Its makers claim that the plants and herbs inside have been chosen for their power to lift spirits and reduce inhibitions – providing all the advantages of alcohol without the head-pounding aftereffects. ‘After three doses, you’ll be the life and soul of the party!’ asserts the Three Spirit website. That might be a bold claim, but the Racing Green bottle will certainly make a smart addition to any Art Deco-style drinks trolley.
How to serve: Best shot if you want to get the party started.
Three Spirit Social Elixir, £24.95, Three Spirit
Inspired by its founders’ hometown of Dorset and named after a natural rock formation found on the local coastline, Sea Arch is produced using traditional distilling techniques to allow the flavours of its botanicals to sink in, before the alcohol is gently removed. Wild seaside herbs of sugar kelp and samphire offer a nod to the Dorset coast, while notes of blood orange and coriander add a sweet and spicy undertone. As good for the environment as it is for your head come morning, Sea Arch is packaged in recycled cardboard boxes and its bottles are finished with solvent-free paint.
How to serve: On the rocks or with tonic for a non-alcoholic take on a G&T.
Sea Arch Non-Alcoholic Distilled Spirit, £24.95, The Gin Warehouse
Fluère Spiced Cane Dark Roasted
Crafted from pure sugar cane molasses and made using the same distilling techniques as gin, rum and whisky, Fluère’s Spiced Cane Dark Roasted makes for an excellent substitute for rum. Rich notes of dark roasted coffee, cocoa, liquorice, tonka beans and toffee give this non-alcoholic spirit a unique after-bite reminiscent of the real deal. Swap out your favourite liquor with Fluère and whip up an Old Fashioned, Daiquiri or Cuba Libra for a Dry January-friendly tipple.
How to serve: Tall with cola and a wedge of lime.
Fluère Spiced Cane Dark Roasted, £19.35, Master of Malt
Crossip Dandy Smoke
Brought to you by former Dishoom bar development manager and Sunday Brunch regular, Carl Anthony Brown, Dandy Smoke launched in September 2020 as a non-alcoholic alternative to mezcal or whisky. Locking himself in a dark room to experiment with spices and botanicals, Brown emerged with a fiery, fruity recipe that coalesces hints of almond, clove and nutmeg. Enjoy Dandy Smoke neat, on the rocks or mixed, preferably with ginger ale, advises Brown. If whisky isn’t your thing, Crossip also does a hibiscus-based bitter and a citrus fruit punch. Five per cent of sales go to social causes – allowing you to socialise with a conscience.
How to serve: Pour 25ml of Dandy Smoke into a glass of ice, top with ginger ale and add a wedge of lime.
Dandy Smoke, £22, Crossip
At 1.2% ABV CleanGin may not be entirely alcohol-free but, what it loses in frankly miniscule amounts of alcohol, it more than makes up for in taste. Created using a complex distillation method that involves all the classic gin aromatics – juniper, citrus, angelica, orris and coriander – the result is a crisp, lively spirit barely distinguishable from its alcoholic cousin. Plus, containing no sugar or sweeteners, it clocks in at just 13 calories per serving. Think cocktail hour can't be part of a healthy lifestyle? Think again.
How to serve: With spoda, elderflower cordial, lemon, mint and cucumber in a Clean Cobbler.