I’m a Food Writer—Here’s What’s on My Non-Alcoholic Bar Cart
There are a lot of fun perks to being a food writer at Well+Good. For example, back before the pandemic when we were working in the office, my desk drawer was always stocked with the best snacks. One of my favorite fringe benefits of the job is spotting new trends taking over the food world and having the change to try 'em out first.
Even though it's my job to spot trends, I'm certainly not the only one who has noticed how non-alcoholic spirits and alcohol-removed wines are taking over the scene. These drinks have become so popular that Well+Good named them one of our 2022 Wellness Trends. The days of having to drink a Sprite or Coke because there are no great alcohol-free options at happy hour are officially over.
I have tried a lot of these types of drinks over the past couple of years. Some have just been meh but there are others that are so well-crafted that they've become mainstays on my bar cart. In fact, my entire bar cart is now stocked solely with alcohol-free options.
Want to start creating a collection of your own? I can tell you first-hand that whatever booze replacement you're looking for (wine, gin, tequila, even mezcal...) there's a mindfully crafted option out there for you that you'll truly love—and I'm showing right here exactly what they are. (If you're a beer drinker, there's plenty out there for you, too.) But before we get to the non-alcoholic spirits and wines, let's get your bar area set up.
Setting up your non-alcoholic bar:
Maybe in college it was cool to display your drinking supplies on top of the fridge and kitchen cabinets, but for a vibe that’s more sophisticated than frat party, it’s worth investing in a bar cart. I like this one because it’s stylish, functional, and not too pricey.
There are a lot of great alcohol-removed wines out there, so if you’re a wine drinker, you still need wine glasses even though you’re cutting back on Pinot Grigio and Cabernet. If friends describe you as colorful, this just might be the set for you. Bonus: It will make it easy for people to remember which glass is theirs when you’re entertaining.
With all the amazing zero-proof spirits out there, you’ll definitely want to be making some cocktails. I like these highball glasses because I find them versatile enough for a wide range of different types of drinks.
A cocktail shaker, muddler, ice tongs, strainer…this bartender kit has it all.
Besides your bar cart, glasses, and accessories, you'll also want to stock your fridge with some mixers. Sparkling water is a classic. Then, the rest is up to you. Love a good palermo? Pick up some grapefruit juice. More of a G&T drinker? You'll want some limes. And now for the main event: the non-alcoholic spirits and wines. One thing to note before we get started: Some of these products have a low-alcohol percent of .5 percent. So if you are 100 percent alcohol-free, just be sure to read the label.
Non-alcoholic spirits and alcohol removed wines:
Seedlip was one of the first brands to create and sell well-crafted non-alcoholic spirits. Often used a gin-replacement, they have three to choose from: Garden 108 (steeped in rosemary, thyme, and spearmint), Spice 94 (made with allspice, cardamom, and citrus), and Grove 42 (made with orange, lemon peel, lemongrass, and ginger).
If you’re a margarita lover, this is the tequila replacement for you. Lyre’s also sells a Reserve Spirit ($36) that’s also made from agave. It has more of a citrus vibe than this one so if you’re more into palermos, go for that one.
Similar to the Seedlip drinks, this beverage by Monday is a really well-crafted gin replacement. Besides juniper (which is what’s used to make traditional gin), it’s also made with coriander seed extract and cucumber extract. The end result is a “gin” that’s refreshing with a hint of flavor that won’t overpower the rest of your cocktail ingredients.
CleanCo.’s apple vodka alternative tastes like Jollyrachers and I am here for it. It’s so flavorful on its own that it doesn’t take much fussing up either. Just mix it with some sparkling water and you’re good to go.
Ritual’s zero-proof line also includes gin, tequila, and rum, but in my opinion, the whiskey is their true standout. It can be enjoyed as is and the aftertaste has the perfect hint of sweetness.
When I heard there was an alcohol replacement for mezcal, I had to try it. This Optimist Botanical Smokey “spirit” is so good. It’s made with lapsang souchong (a type of black tea where the leaves have been dried over a pinewood fire), bitter orange, clove, ginger, sage, bergamot, and cinnamon.
If relaxing with a glass of cabernet is your jam, Sovi’s red blend is right up your alley. The taste notes include black raspberry, dark cherry, and baking spices.
Save a bottle of this bubbly to pop in the fridge when you’re ready to celebrate. Or hey, pour yourself a glass on an average ‘ol Wednesday because a glass of zero-proof sparkling wine can turn a ho-hum day into something special.
What’s cool about this alcohol-removed wine is that it’s infused with 40 milligrams of broad-spectrum hemp extract. This helps give a feeling of relaxation that’s still alcohol-free.
With Acid League’s wine proxies line, you can choose between their subscription plan ($60 for three new flavors a month) or customize your own set of four for $86. One of my favorites is Sunbeam (which I actually keep in the fridge), made with mango, pineapple, lime, chili, red pepper, and amchur. Its fruity and bright with a hint of a spicy kick.
This sparkling rose is made with Spanish Tempranillo grapes the exact same way a traditional sparkling rose is made—until the alcohol is removed using a specialized vacuum system. Just keep it in the fridge instead of on your bar cart because you’ll want to enjoy this one chilled.
Wine, gin, tequila, whiskey, mezcal...there's a zero-proof version of whatever it is you love to drink. Now that you know what's out there comes the fun part: experimenting. Cheers!
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