Over 2021, sales of no- and low-alcoholic drinks rose to $9.9 billion, according to IWSR numbers. In response, a growing number of non-alcoholic products have flooded the market, from zero-proof gins to Riesling dupes to non-alcoholic canned cocktails.
“The no-alcohol wine segment in the US is developing and new brands are coming to market with more premium attributes such as no added preservatives, or with the addition of adaptogens, probiotics, and other functional benefits, than incumbent brands,” says Susie Goldspink, Head of No- and Low-Alcohol Insights, IWSR Drinks Market Analysis. “In the US, an increasing number of no-alcohol-specific retailers are launching as well. These include ecommerce platforms, as well as alcohol-free bars and retail stores in major cities,” says Goldspink.
“Thoughtful zero-proof drinks are here to stay as a part of a complete and inclusive beverage program,” says Morgan Calcote, the General Manager and James Beard Award-winning Beverage Director of FIG in Charleston. “The growing diversity of offerings has been nice to see and our bar team has come up with some truly craveable beverages.” (Calcote specifically enjoys working with aromatic spiritless distillates, like Gnista, Wilfreds, and Seedlip. “Those products bring aromatic and flavor elements that liquors like aperitivos and amaros bring to traditional cocktails.)
But what products stand out in this saturated market? I asked bartenders and sommeliers — the folks who sell these products every day and have a front-row seat to customer interactions — what non-alcoholic brands they hope will stand the test of time.
Lagunitas Hop Water
“One of the best qualities that any bar product should have is versatility, as you should use different ingredients across your menu. This is even more important with a non-alcoholic product. Because of this, we are big fans of Lagunitas Hop Water. First of all, Lagunitas is an established craft beer brand with a long history and great brand recognition. Secondly, we use this refreshing, hop-flavored carbonated water as an ingredient for our cocktails and mocktails or enjoy it by itself.” — Danny Astorga, Beverage Director of The Press Room
Seedlip was one of the first non-alcoholic products to launch around the globe, and because of that the brand has become one of the most-recognized bottle on the shelf. “It’s my favorite — they use botanical ingredients that are distilled and blended until they contain no sugars of alcohol. Currently, their company has three flavors available: Citrus Grove, Garden and Spice.” — Blair Mathieson, Bar Manager of LG’s Bar & Kitchen
“As a bar and restaurant located in Utah, we serve a wide array of guests who may or may not be drinking – we want to be as inclusive as possible and create a space and environment that welcomes everyone at Laurel,” says Mark Moulton, Beverage Director at Laurel Brasserie & Bar. “We are proud to offer numerous mocktails featuring Seedlip non-alcoholic spirits. We’ve found Seedlip allows our bar team to craft layered and inventive zero-proof drinks that go beyond a simple mix of fruit juices.”
Leitz Eins Zwei Zero Sparkling Riesling
“This fantastic bubbly always gets me in the mood to party! It comes from a very famous estate in the Rheingau region of Germany and is made from Riesling that is fermented into wine then vacuum-distilled to remove all alcohol. Rebecca and I keep some in our fridge at home for equal-opportunity sipping (alcohol and non-alcoholic). We have worked with this wine brand for almost a decade, so the staying power is definitely there!” — Chris Gaither, Master Sommelier and Beverage Director at Ungrafted SF
“My personal favorite non-alcohol brand would be Lyre’s. They have a huge array of products —everything from Absinthe to a good swap for Campari called Italian orange. All are very well made. The flavors are not exact to their alcoholic counterparts, but the strong resemblance makes them great building blocks for low-ABV or non-alcohol cocktails. The classy packaging also adds to the air of quality. A leading NA brand in my book.” — Scott Taylor, Beverage Director at Harris’ Restaurant in San Francisco, CA
“Lyre’s is a brand that’s here for the long haul. Their non-alcoholic gin is the backbone of our No-No Nogroni. Their lineup continues to grow but stays nicely in the realm of classic bar ingredients.” — Jonny Raglin, Co-Founder of Comstock Saloon
“Athletic Brewing Co.’s ‘Upside Dawn’ is a stellar example of a N/A beer that’s more of a feature than a necessity for a brand and crafted with the intention to remove both gluten and alcohol. For the beer lover, I wonder if one could truly tell the difference. It is incredibly light and refreshing while holding on to what makes beer great – the taste of Vienna malt, hops, and wheat.” — Owen Huzar, Head Sommelier at Adorn Restaurant
“I have really been enjoying working with Three Spirits. I’m impressed with their complexity and the dimensions they add to cocktails. Being wholly plant-based and sustainable, they employ traditional distillation methods including maceration, fermentation, distillation, reverse osmosis, freeze-drying, and ultra-sonic extraction.” — Jonnie Long, Death & Co, Denver
“I’ve been enjoying the expressions from Everleaf Non-alcoholic Aperitif line. The owner is a conservation biologist with a deep tie to nature and plant life. Expressive and interesting, there are 3 botanical expressions. Mountain (cherry blossom, rose hip, strawberry), Marine (Savory, Bergamot, sea buckthorn), and Forest (saffron, vanilla, orange blossom). The profiles are unique with great texture, long and zest lingering flavor notes. I find Everleaf aperitifs are relatable in the context of how we riff on modern classics with an interesting hook.” — Javelle Taft, Death & Co, East Village
“We love Melati, a woman-owned Singaporean alcohol-free spirit made from a melange of Asian ingredients like green mango, guava, lime rind and goji berry. This bevvie is halal too so it has not been fermented or distilled. Instead, its delicious flavor comes from cold-extracting the essential flavors and blending them together, giving you all the health benefits from herbal concoction. It can be used like a vermouth or a base spirit, and I love it with soda water and an orange slice.” — Cara Patricia, co-founder of proudly women- and queer-owned bar and bottle shop DECANTsf
“I love Abstinence Spirits from South Africa, especially their non-alcoholic aperitifs made from bittersweet lemon, aloe, and aromatic Buchu. It’s a lovely replacement for limoncello or white vermouth, making a perfect summer spritz.” — Cara Patricia, co-founder of proudly women- and queer-owned bar and bottle shop DECANTsf
“Wine is newer to the non-alcoholic category and TÖST is starting to spark a lot of interest. Presented in a wine bottle and marketed as a sparkling, alcohol-free dry refresher, it combines white tea, cranberry, and ginger — the creativity is inspiring. Serve it in a flute to give the feel of sipping Champagne to seamlessly integrate patrons into a social crowd without explaining why they aren’t drinking. I am truly excited to see where this new market goes next.” — Owen Huzar, WSET 3, Head Sommelier at Adorn Restaurant
“Proxies is a great brand of non-alcoholic wines with interesting and robust flavors. What sets them apart in my book is the fact that they don’t ferment or create alcohol with the wine grapes, they use the grapes as an ingredient.use wine grapes as an ingredient that doesn’t ferment and create alcohol. It’s not an imitation of alcohol but wholly using the grapes in an innovative way. In addition, Proxies has such a diverse lineup, and even recently partnered with Dominique Crenn to create her own bottling, that continuing to use this brand does not get stagnant.” — Michelin-starred Esmé’s beverage director, Tia Barrett
“You can tell that the team at Proxies cares about making tasty and complex non-alcoholic beverages. They have recently pivoted to emphasizing fruit and tea notes more than vinegar-forward. This shows that they are constantly improving the product and not stagnating.” — Jose Villalobos, Parachute in Chicago
“When I think of non-alcoholic spirits, I’m met with many alternatives or substitutes for their alcoholic counterparts. With Rasāsvāda I think more of a place, time and state of where I’d like to be. Rasāsvāda does this by providing flavor profiles that are complex, aromatic and profound thanks to its collaborative sourcing of ingredients. When it’s all finally bottled, we end up with a spirit that has intention. This act of taking a moment to think of where you are when you’re drinking makes it a spirit that I keep going back to.” — Edgar Morales, Head Bartender at Clover Hill in Brooklyn Heights
Martini & Rossi
“Martini & Rossi have two new non-alcoholic vermouths that have resonated with me! The one that has impressed me and that we currently use in our spirit-free menu is the Martini & Rossi Floreale non-alcoholic white vermouth! The bottle is beautiful, and the flavor profile adds complexity to a mocktail. It has a slight bitterness but a floral aspect because it is chamomile based. I believe that once it gets more popular, it has the potential to be a bottle that we will see around in bars more often as the low and no-ABV cocktail trends continue.” — Brittany Park, bar manager of Brasserie la Banque in Charleston.
“They’re made with adaptogens and nootropics, giving you a little lift without alcohol. They’re great to take to a party if you aren’t good in social situations or to have at the end of the day when you need to unwind.” — Stacie Stewart beverage director at Nami in Louisville.