With the Dry-uary season upon us, here are some favourites for those taking a break from cocktails, or looking for some fresh 2024 drink-spiration.
When renowned a popular U.S. drinks writer began curating a list of non-alcoholic spirits on his Alcademics blog (pioneering brand Seedlip was the first entry), it felt like a novelty niche on the cocktail scene. Today the list is approaching 200 brands, and with so many non-alcoholic alternatives on the market, including many Canadian brands, it can be hard to know what to try.
But first, to tackle the elephant in the room: why can non-alcoholic products cost the same as traditional, boozy ones? High-quality products often use the same distillation process as traditional spirits, which are then de-alcoholized (those with allergies, note: de-alcoholized spirits can legally still contain less than 0.5 per cent alcohol: about the same as a ripe banana, and less than soy sauce). That means a more involved, often more expensive, production process. Others are developed in a complex process of combining flavours, textures and botanicals to re-create the taste and mouthfeel of alcohol.
Amongst these favourites, we’ve leaned into low-sugar, low-additive Canadian brands, because although there are fewer international barriers to shipping these products than with alcohol, why not support local?
Let’s retire the mocktails and let these placebo drinks, “nocktails” and free-spirited bottles happily get you through Dry-uary
This year could be peak Sober Curious: just check out the new booze-free vending machine at Larry’s Market in the Shipyards, featuring mickeys of Solbru booze-free spirit and cans of Sober Carpenter and Partake near-beer in slots that recently held healthy salads and takeout—proof that Dry-uary is a full-blown lifestyle trend.
Need something to tuck under the tree? From vodka to bitters, we’ve got you covered with these holiday bottles
Need something special for your dinner party host, your boss or your impossible-to-buy-for brother-in-law. Here are the spirits we’d like to find under our own Christmas trees. (For whiskies, see Last minute gift guide part 1: Warming whiskeys.)
This zero-proof cocktail is a long, cool drink that’s fruity and spicy, with a beautiful balance of sweetness and acidity, and a surprisingly deep complexity for a drink without a spirit base.
• 3 oz (90 mL) brewed white-pomegranate tea (available from Lucas Teas in Squamish)
• 1 oz (30 mL) pineapple shrub (recipe follows)
• ½ oz (15 mL) lime juice
• ½ oz (15 mL) grenadine
• Dash pineapple juice
• Dash rosewater
Call this the month of reckoning. After a festive season of giddy indulgence, many of us are rediscovering the gym, swapping shortbread for lentils, and giving up booze throughout the 31 long, dark days of January.