nonalcoholic Alternative Drinks

The nonalcoholic (NA) cocktail and beer industry has changed so much in the past decade that it is unrecognizable. Like you, prior to 2021 I found nonalcoholic beer repugnant, and ersatz cocktails to be generally supersweet, vile, and loathsome. Then I visited the home of a friend who’d stocked a whole bar full of NA spirits and aperitifs. He poured me a little bit of Roots Divino Aperitif Rosso and another little bit of Monday Mezcal and I was blown away. Then he made me a margarita and I was hooked.

I’ve been trying a whole range of NA alternatives, aperitifs, wines, beers, bitters, and the like. Since a friend and I have been talking on Signal about nonalcoholic options for his Fort Worth, TX, Bar, I figured this list might help others.

When I was in the US, sure, Athletic Brewing NA beer is fine or even good sometimes, as are national brands like Samuel Adams with its maybe too sweet but really good Just The Haze and others. Living in Germany — where every brewery makes its own NA beer — my favorite currently is Schlossbrauerei Stein’s Steiner-Bier Zwickl, a hazy IPA, I have been spoiled by much better NA beer over here, and even dabbled a bit into NA wine — I especially like Doppio Passo red and white), and Freixenet-Mionetto Alcohol-removed prosecco.

Ground Rules

With the possible exception of some of the NA beers and some of the better NA proseccos, it is unrealistic to think that NA drinks will taste like their alcoholic namesakes. NA whisky is, in my extensive experience, abhorrent. To paraphrase Douglas Adams, the Monday Mezcal I spoke highly of just two paragraphs ago, “invariably delivers a cupful of liquid that is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike” mezcal. You will not find a substitute for whisky. It won’t warm you after drinking. It may seem obvious, but having read hundreds of customer reviews of NA whisky that expected a lot of things that are manifestly impossible in a nonalcoholic drink I feel obligated to point out that you hardly get drunk at all from nonalcoholic whisky.

But when your expectations are set and the alternatives are mixed well and combined with fruit juices and other flavorings, what NA “spirits,” aperitifs, and bitters can deliver is remarkably appealing. I’ve become accustomed to blending these into shockingly delightful drinks that help while away summer afternoons, go well at parties, and allow those choosing not to drink to participate in new flavors and experiences.

Find a Local

I highly recommend finding a local guide if you can. I was lucky enough to have a terrific NA shop about 45 minutes from my house in New York’s Hudson Valley at Empire Too Wines and Grocery where John curates what is still the best collection of NA goods I’ve seen anywhere. But John doesn’t deliver to Europe. There are NA shops in most major cities, and there are online shops (like those from vendors like Lyre’s, and NA online shops like Club Soda, World of Nix, and too, that deliver throughout Europe.

I’d love to find more good blogs about nonalcoholic drinks and drinking; I love the one from All The Bitter. The All The Bitter blog also has their list (with which I have several significant issues) of the best nonalcoholic spirits. And the Club Soda podcast, The Next Round has interesting conversations about the NA world.

But the TL;DR is, as with most other things, it’s best to meet others with similar interests and share knowledge.

The List

So here are some of my favorites. I may update this as time goes on.


Lyre’s Traditional Reserve Non-Alcoholic Whisky This, to me, is the only NA whisky alternative that remotely tastes like whisky. I drink on the rocks, or with a touch of Pathfinder or other amaro-like concoction. In a pinch, Lyre’s American Malt is barely acceptable. Monday’s NA whisky is repugnant. As are most others. Note: This was formerly named Highland Malt which led to a lot of drama.

Wissin Non-Alcoholic Whisky This is surprising for the oomph of whisky like flavor it brings to a whisky sour, and I would recommend it more except for one thing: it is pre-sweetened. There’s a weird thing in Europe about pre-sweetening - often with saccharine, for God’s sake - nonalcoholic alternatives. But for nonalcoholic whisky sours, especially at parties, I keep a couple of bottles of Spanish-made Wissin around in my wine cellar.

Gnista Spirits Barreled Oak This is the least whisky-like NA whisky and if your taste in NA gets advanced enough to stop thinking of it as a whisky and start thinking of it as a dark, smoky, woody flavored drink over ice it is quite enjoyable indeed.

I stay specifically away from whisky from Monday (disappointing as biting into a bar of fruit-shaped soap that looks and smells like, say, a peach, the taste disappoints…This one to me is like heavily watered prune juice concentrate), other Lyre’s offerings especially including American Malt (a ghost of Traditional Reserve, and not a friendly ghost), and Spiritless Kentucky 74 (this is as inappropriate as Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany’s - just what the hell were they thinking?).


Monday Mezcal This was actually the first NA spirit I ever tried. While it tastes nothing like Mezcal, it can make exceptional margaritas. It has a nice burn like mezcal, and when hidden in a cocktail it is truly good and rather versatile.


Ritual Zero Proof Tequila Alternative I’ve been truly surprised by the versatility of this stuff, as have at least two bartenders I’ve spoken with who were serving it in their Chicago bar. Again, not tequila, but good flavor and mouthfeel and burn makes it nice to add to mixed drinks.

Bare Zero Proof Spirits Reposado Style Tequila Another recommendation from John at Empire Too, I really like this a lot, and for the same reasons I like Ritual.

ISH Spirits Mexican Agave Is probably tied (for me) with Bare Zero.

I have not yet tried Trejo’s Spirits Tequila Alternative but I realy want to. They have a shop in Notting Hill that I will try to hit when there.


Weirdly, even though Europe tends to emphasize natural ingredients and low sugar, European NA spirits — especially gin — are often sweetened. Worse, they are often sweetened with saccharine. Gordon’s Gin and Tanqueray Gin were options I was really looking forward to untl I tasted them. Blurgh.

Monday Zero Alcohol Gin is my favorite “gin” for its strong juniper aromas and really dry flavor. It stands up to ice and to mixers.

Lyre’s Dry London Spirit Second place favorite.

I will let you know how my experimental purchase of Bavarian-made Tinctura Anatomica Gin Zero turns out - it seems they’ve added no sweeteners and it’s made locally to me so I have high hopes.

Amaro and Aperitifs

The Pathfinder Non-Alcoholic Hemp & Root Spirit. One time, I visited the Dr. Pepper factory in Waco, TX, and the guide there told us that “Dr. Pepper tastes like the smell of an old pharmacy.” By “pharmacy,” of course, he meant apothecary. And while The Pathfinder does not taste like Dr. Pepper, it absolutely tastes like the smell of an old apothecary. An amaro with extra citrus and dark, heavy tones, it goes perfectly in so many things, though it has an indisputably heavy hand that makes other amaros appropriate depending on your mood. But every good NA bar needs one of the beautiful bottles in which Pathfinder comes.

Dr Zero Zero AmarNo John at Empire Too raved about Dr. Zero Zero and let me try it and I was hooked. More subtle and a switch from The Pathfinder.

Mondino Aperitivo Senza is a fruitier and brighter amaro type, with cranberries and elderberries and citrus in the flavor and I love the tagline of, Dolce Vita senza headache - “The sweet life. No headache.”

Roots Divino Aperitif Rosso Non-Alcoholic Vermouth Lovely dark vermouth.

Roots Divino Aperitif Bianco Non-Alcoholic Vermouth Lovely white vermouth.

There are a few fruity, citrussy, delights like Wilfred’s Bittersweet Aperitif, Martini & Rossi Vibrante, and Figlia 001 that are just great in so many things. Then there is the hard-to-classify but basic requirement that all NA bars have a bottle of Ghia Non-Alcoholic Aperitif, which is unique so far as I can tell but which fits that general - bright, citrussy, fresh - label.

A more acquired taste is Three Spirit Nightcap, which can be lovely on its own or in club soda with lemon. For a brighter, lighter, fruit, tart berry, and guayusa (very similar to yerba maté) flavor, consider Three Spirit Livener.

More sophisticated flavors in this theme come from Jardins Suspendus Apéritif (Bitter orange & rosemary), Jardins Fleuris Apéritif (Bergamot & Elderflower), and Lyre’s Italian Spritz Non-Alcoholic Spirit. Tang with some bitters. Remarkable.


Like Ghia, Seedlip Drinks are unique; unlike Ghia (which can be considered an Aperitif), Seedlip Drinks demand their own category: distilled nonalcoholic spirits that are not intended to emulate alcoholic beverages. Seedlip has been a pioneer in the NA category and I believe everyone should have a bottle or two in their collection, at least to know whether you like it. Certainly to honor their embracing the first-mover disadvantage and helping to prove that there is a big addressable market in NA spirits. Hat tip to for reminding me to include these here.

Some of Seedlip’s offerings — like Seedlip Grove 42 and Notas de Agave — are delightfully bright, fresh, uplifting, and citrussy, and can subtly but notable enhance a NA cocktail; others are … well, to me, they are just weird. Like Seedlip Spice, which to me is a little like drinking a clove cigarette.

And what the hell is going on with Seedlip Garden, which they say tastes of, and I quote their marketing here, “peas & traditional garden herbs including Rosemary, Thyme & Spearmint.” I mean, OK, chief, whatever floats your particular dinghy, I guess.


All the Bitter Orange Bitters

All the Bitter Aromatic Bitters

Rennaissance man and NA mixologist suggests looking at El Guapo Bitters, a source I had not previously looked at, but will absolutely be buying from; they sell a combination of mixers, syrups, and bitters.