Many of us, for a variety of reasons, will be choosing low or zero alcohol drinks this summer - but that doesn’t mean we should compromise on the taste.
As a parent, I still enjoy a refreshing drink on a typical hot kiwi Summers day - but I don't want the kids running rings around me or the hassle of organising dinner with a headache !
I've been really pleased to find a huge improvement in the options available in New Zealand for low or non-alcoholic drinks that taste good and don't leave you feeling you've drunk a bottle of full-sugar fizzy!
What makes a good non-alcoholic drink?
The best non-alcoholic drinks have many of the same features as their alcoholic buddies and should include a nice balance of acidity, sweetness, bitterness, salinity, and water. Enjoyment of a drink also comes from its complexity - you want something that feels ‘grown-up’ and something you want to slowly sip and savour.
Alcohol has a signature ‘bite’ that is difficult to replicate. This helps slow the drinker and stimulates other senses. Bitter, sour, or spicy flavours can achieve a similar effect and bitterness is often recommended by experts as a key element of a good low or zero alcoholic drink. They also recommend adding something fresh, such as a squeeze of lime, to your non-alcoholic drink to help ‘brighten’ it up.
Note: Many non alcoholic drinks contain herbal extracts and some come with health warnings for people who are pregnant, taking certain medications, or have other medical concerns. Some drinks also still contain trace amounts of alcohol. Before drinking it’s always a good idea to check the label and information provided by the brand.
Here are some great tasting alternatives to add to your drinks cabinet for lazy sunny afternoons!
Gin: Ecology + Co - London Dry – Alcohol-Free Distilled Spirit (0%)
This is what I am drinking this summer - it’s a traditional blend of juniper, coriander and lemon, with floral and pine notes for a familiar, fragrant taste and a long, refreshing finish. It's the perfect replacement for the traditional G&T and great for lazy Sunday afternoons (when you don't want to fall asleep before the kids!).
Gin: Seedlip garden 108
Seedlip offers easy drinking with a light flavour featuring a fresh, herbal blend of peas & traditional garden herbs including rosemary, thyme & spearmint. While you can drink it straight, it works particularly well for virgin cocktails or a G&T
There are several options in the Seedlip range, but this one is the nicest when adding tonic or your preferrred mixer.
Beer: Garage Project Tiny No Regrets Hazy IPA (0.5%)
You can find a great review of Tiny by The Spinoff that talks about process and challenges Wellington based Garage Project overcame when brewing Tiny. The short version is that it wasn't easy, and lots of batches went straight down the drain, but it was totally worth it.
Brewed with pilsner malt, golden naked oats, mosaic, strata and simcoe, Tiny is specially fermented to give you lots of big, juicy hop character.
Beer: Bare Beer / Non-alcoholic Pale Ale (0.5%)
Touted as a beer with everything except the alcohol. Tiny has a big tropical aroma and a smooth bitterness that defies logic in this non-alcoholic Pale Ale.
The brewers of Bare Beer wanted to create a locally brewed beer that had as much depth of flavour and character as possible, while maintaining the refreshing and sessionable nature of all of their beers. Many iterations later they created something they were truly proud of, and our panel agreed it was a winner!
Beer: Clausthaler Original (0.5%)
Brewed in strict accordance with the German purity law. Clausthaler has a genuine 'real beer' taste and is well-balanced, fresh, and easy to drink, with a creamy feel on the palate and a pleasing golden color to match. Clausthaler was a favourite with our panel.
Wine: The technology creating for zero alcohol wine is rapidly improving and experts suggest we should start to see some good options on the market soon.
In the meantime our panel is recommending you stick with low alcohol Gin and Beer.
What are your favourites non-alcoholic drinks? Perhaps you have found a wine you could recommend? We'd love to hear from you!