Non-alcoholic bourbons. Orange wines without the proof. Alcohol-removed canned margaritas and bottled zero-alcohol Old Fashioneds. All, set the stage for a strong shift towards non-alcoholic products.
Sales of non-alcoholic products were up 21% last year, according to NielsenIQ, with 82% of non-alcoholic buyers also purchasing regular-proof booze. The IWSR Drinks Market Analysis expects the market to continue to grow over a third in the next year.
“The dynamic no/low-alcohol category presents opportunities for incremental sales growth as consumers are recruited from drinks categories such as soft drinks and water. Brand owners have an opportunity to recruit non-drinkers of alcohol,” comments Susie Goldspink, Head of No- and Low-Alcohol, IWSR Drinks Market Analysis. “As more people opt to avoid alcohol on certain occasions – or abstain from it altogether – no-alcohol is steadily increasing its share of the no/low category.” Furthering that sentiment, a report from Berenberg Research showed that Gen Z, a future major purchasing power in the alcohol space, drinks 20% less alcohol per capita than Millennials.
But with dozens of new products on the market, what should you purchase? Here are some of the most exciting new entrants.
Free Spirits Spirit of Milano
Craving a spritz but engaging in Dry January? Free Spirits crafts nuanced, non-alcoholic iterations of an Italian aperitivo. With complex notes of cinnamon, blood orange, and rhubarb, it’s got all the bitter-sweet flavor profiles of say, a Campari, but without the proof. It’s great in any Italian-energy drinks — negronis, spritzes; even a sbagliato. Outside of the aperitivo, the brand makes a stand-out gin for subbing into mixed drinks or martinis.
Oddbird Low-Intervention Organic White No. 2
Most of the non-alcoholic wines are hyper-focused on making zero-proof alternatives to classical whites — aromatic Sauvignon Blancs, crispy Rieslings, or richer Chardonnays. One of Oddbird’s newer releases isn’t that – it’s a cool-kid, non-alcoholic natural wine from North Alsace. Made with Auxerrois, Pinot Blanc and Riesling, it’s textured and tannic, with a flinty minerality and a lively finish. Something I would keep coming back to again and again.
All of Oddbird’s wines are made and aged as per normal, then they undergo an alcohol removal (or “liberation,” as the brand declares) process.
Jukes Cordialities 1
While there are plenty of spirits dupes in the non-alcoholic space, the category has been slow to join the ready-to-drink market (except, of course, for standard sodas). So wine writer Matthew Jukes developed his own line of wine-like cordials, designed to sub in for popular styles of wine.
A personal favorite is “Jukes 1”, an aromatic sparkling white wine served in a can. The wine presence comes from a base of apple cider vinegar, which gives the wine a bright, almost briney herbaceousness. Keep it chilled and crack it when company comes around.