The Best Non Alcoholic Drinks on the Market – Our ULTIMATE Guide!
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It used to be that there were only two reasons for not drinking alcohol – you were either in recovery or pregnant! But in reality there are a whole host of reasons why people don’t drink and the no/low alcohol movement is really taking off here in the UK.
Gone are the days of a lonely bottle of alcohol free gin or a dusty pack of watery 0% beer on the supermarket shelves. There’s now a whole section of wines, beers and spirits all ready to replace your boozy glass…that are actually quite good!
We recently did a dry month to take a bit of a break from the slowly increasing habits we picked up over a year in lockdown – a boozy circuit breaker if you will! One weekend when I was doing the big shop, I found myself browsing the alcohol free section and taking the plunge on a few bottles.
Let’s be real, a lot of the good alcohol free stuff is EXPENSIVE! Do I really want to be spending twenty quid on something that tastes rubbish and isn’t going to also give me that mellow buzz? I could just drink squash instead right?! I think cost was the main reason why I avoided trying a lot of these things before, but now I’ve tried a few of the different options out there right now I can confidently say that some of them are really worth it! Even if you’re cutting back for weight loss reasons, the majority of these no/low alcohol subs are a fraction of the kcals of their boozy counterparts so it’s a bit of a win win all round really.
Now i’d just like to say that I consider myself a bit of a foodie and I’m pretty confident in my palette! We like good food and even better wine so I was a tough cookie to please when it came to these subs and I tested them all with a very critical tongue. Some worked, some didn’t, and I’m here to share my findings so you don’t have to waste your money. Consider me your no/low alcohol Guinea pig taking one (or five) for the team!
The Difference between alcohol free and low alcohol labeling in the UK
Here in the UK, drinks must be below 0.05% to be classed as alcohol free. In Europe 0.5% can be labelled alcohol free so this is why you might see some ‘alcohol free’ labels with different percentages on important brands.
In the UK, anything over 0.05% all the way up to 1.2% must be labelled low alcohol instead of alcohol free.
To put this into perspective however, compared to a 0.5% ABV beer there’s around 1.9% ABV in a freshly baked roll and almost 2% in soy sauce…so even with the low alcohol options, you’re still doing a-ok! *
Let’s take a look at some of the beers, spirits and wines I’ve found that are actually pretty decent if you’re looking to cut back. I’ll be updating my best non alcoholic drinks guide as I go along with new finds so be sure to come and follow me on Instagram @xameliax for updates as I try more! I also have an easy to swipe through story highlight with links too on insta.
BEST NON ALCOHOLIC BEER
Some of the best non alcoholic beer we’ve found so far…
The best Non Alcoholic Beer I’ve tried so far has to be Lucky Saint. We were handed a bottle of this over the fence by our neighbour and we’ve since ordered two more cases! It’s refreshingly light but with a load of flavour – ever so slightly pale ale-y in taste. I really struggle to tell this apart from some regular beers!
Apparently Lucky Saint are working on getting their best non alcoholic beer into pubs on draft and I wouldn’t hesitate to order a pint of this on a hot day – it’s a real winner!
A new player in the alcohol free beer game is Corona with their 0.0% Corona Cero and THIS IS A WINNER!!!! I cannot tell you how close to the real thing this tastes – I even managed to convert the husband with this one! Ice cold with a slice of lime in the neck its the perfect beer for warm summer evenings and BBQ days.
It’s super refreshing, lively and has a great taste. I really look forward to a bottle of this from the fridge and I think it’s a total triumph! My fave by far.
Next up is Heineken 0.0. It’s light, it’s cheap and its easy to find – perfect for taking to a BBQ or for easy drinking days. It hasn’t got a huge amount of flavour and it’s VERY light but it’s a simple one that does a job. Around 70kcals a can and very refreshing, its alright (if you can’t find the corona bottles!).
A new one added to the list that I tried the other night – Punk AF from Brewdog. This tastes like an actual full strength Brewdog ale. Fruity with some hops and very refreshing. It feels like it has a bit of weight to the flavour and has a fairly flat pour but I liked this a lot and would recommend this one for the IPA lovers!
One I found when out and about the other day is Birra Moretti Zero and it was good enough to add to the list. A little fruity, nice and refreshing with a bit of depth. I’ve seen this behind the bar in a few places so it’s worth a go.
A quick little addition with this bottle I tried while waiting for a train last month – Brewdog Nanny State. I was looking for Punk AF but their alcohol free options were VERY limited. The bar tender managed to find a dusty bottle of nanny state at the back of the fridge so I thought I’d give it a go and you know what, it’s decent. More of an ale than a lager and it was nicely hoppy without being too overpowering. It went down well and again I’d have another bottle if Punk AF wasn’t on offer.
BEST NON ALCOHOLIC CIDER
I enjoy a cider in the summer over ice. It’s refreshing, fun and something a little different to beer, so I’ve tried a couple of non alcoholic ciders to see how I got on. Now for me, regular cider is sweet anyway so its quite easy to mimic as a non alcoholic cider, and Thatchers have done a pretty good job! It’s not got that alcoholic depth of a regular glass, but it’s not just a bottle of appletizer either – it’s really quite good!
If you’re a fruity cider lover then I recently tried the alcohol-free Kopparberg version of their mixed fruits cider. It was really tasty, super fruity and sweet and I very much enjoyed it sloshed over ice. But the calories in this bottle could rival a Mcdonald’s lunch – I was flabbergasted! For an AF alternative the sugar and calories simply weren’t worth it for me, sorry!
BEST NON ALCOHOLIC GIN
A couple of our favourite non alcoholic gins to try with your tonic!
However the best non alcoholic gin has to be Cleanco and their Clean G spirit. Once in the low alcohol gin category at 1.2%, all Cleanco spirits are now completely alcohol free which is fab! (we have the old bottle pictured here). They also do a rhubarb version i’m yet to try, but their original Clean G is just PERFECT for a G&T or in an alcohol free gin cocktail – it tastes JUST like the real thing! I was amazed! What a fab substitute and a gorgeous bottle to boot.
As far as completely non alcoholic gins go, Seedlip Citrus is a good one. Their Garden version is ok for a strong grassy/herby flavour, but for me, their citrus gin just hits all the marks. It’s not the most versatile for gin cocktails but it has a nice balanced flavour and it makes for a lovely substitute in tonic for a classic G&T.
BEST ALCOHOL FREE SPIRITS
Some of the best alcohol free spirits we’ve found for your none alcoholic drinks and cocktails!
Another Cleanco bottle in my collection is their Clean R – a (now) alcohol free Rum substitute. Like their gin, this rum tastes EXACTLY like the real thing, it’s quite incredible! It’s fab mixed with coke and a squeeze of lime for an alcohol free cuba libre and I genuinely think in a blind taste test you’d struggle to tell the difference! Again, this is now a 0% spirit – we just have the old bottle pictured here.
It’s also great in cocktails too – take a look at my ‘Cleana Colada’ recipe below!
If you’re a rum fan looking to cut down then you have to try this!
Yes, I’ve even found you an alcohol free tequila substitute as well – aren’t I good to you?! Tequila’s one of my faves so finding a substitute for my margaritas was high on my list of priorities in this experiment! Our third bottle from Cleanco is their Clean T, a flipping great tequila substitute. With a slight oaky flavour, this agave spirit has a lot of tequila flavour without the kick. I’ve even managed to whip up a completely alcohol free margarita recipe that works too – coming to the blog very soon!
If you’re missing your tequila fix, this is the bottle for you! You’re welcome friends.
Alcohol Free Aperol Spritz anybody? I’ve got you covered with Lyre’s Italian Spritz – this is a cracking Aperol substitute for a warm day drinking in the sun!
Mixed with a slice of fresh orange and some sparkling water (or a slosh of non-alcohol fizz) this is a fantastic substitute that will keep you guessing right till the last drop. It has the flavour and the bitterness you’d expect from Aperol with non of the hangover! Expensive, but worth it.
BEST NON ALCOHOLIC WINE: RED
If you’re anything like me, the best non alcoholic wine section is the one you’ve most been looking forward to reading, especially when it comes to the alcohol free red wines. I’m sorry to report that I’m still struggling to find the PERFECT red wine substitute! The majority of no or low alcohol ‘red wines’ I’ve tried so far have been terrible – from the expensive to the cheap – and I’m still searching for an alternative that would make me consider switching for good.
(You’ll find some of the bottles I’ve tested and hated at the bottom of this article so you can save your money!)
Maybe it’s because I’m such a red wine fan with high expectations that it’s been a particularly difficult task, HOWEVER, there are some out there that hit the mark if you’re looking for a red wine fix without the hangover. Again, they’re not perfect and they don’t give you that deep full bodied flavour of a proper glass of red, but they’re nice and they do a decent job…
One of the closest I’ve gotten to a passable glass of alcohol free red wine is this bottle from Jose Maria Da Fonseca. Their Syrah 2020 tastes pretty good – it’s fruity but it has a nice dryness on the finish and it does have a winey feel as it’s de-alcoholised at 0.5%. It’s a nice glass and it’s tasty but it is best served cold, so you don’t get that warming comfort that a regular deep glass of rioja or malbec gives. We found this one went well with food and I have also reached for a glass on occasion in front of the TV. It’s not fully there but its close, and at £7.50 a bottle I’d say it’s worth a taste.
This little de-alcoholised cab sauv from Ariel is also a good shout. Sophisticatedly fruity but with a really nice dry finish. It goes well with food whilst also holding it’s own as a pleasant sipping wine. Although a little fruitier than I would usually pick for a red, it does taste like wine not fruit squash! It’s surprisingly ‘alcoholic’ on the nose too.
Again this is a 0.5% bottle which would be considered LOW ALCOHOL with the UK guidelines but that’s pretty standard in the no/low alcohol world. Definitely worth a go to see if you like it.
For a totally 0% option, this Domaine De La Prade Merlot & Shiraz from Odd Bird is a good’un. Slightly oakier than the Ariel with a very dry finish – no Ribena vibes here! My husband prefers this one, I prefer the Arial but they are both quite good indeed. I especially like a glass of this one with pudding or a nice chunk of chocolate in front of the tv. For my palette, the sweetness of the dessert really helps this one shine. It’s a decent sub.
BEST NON ALCOHOLIC WINE: WHITE
For our best non alcoholic wine i’ve had a bit more luck with white…
One of the best 0.0% non alcoholic wines i’ve found is this Muscat from Natureo. It’s pretty ok on its own but it’s great as a spritzer with some sparkling water. The problem with the majority of non alcoholic wines is that they taste way too sweet but this is an ok substitute as it’s on the dryer side of the AF wine spectrum! The only downside is the price at around £9 a bottle, ouch!
I’m including this in our best non alcoholic wine list even though technically it’s classed as a low alcohol bottle at 0.5%. This DC Sauv Blanc is the closest thing i’ve found to a decent white wine so far with proper wine flavours and a refreshing crisp taste. It’s lovely ice cold on it’s own but again does really well as a spritzer too and it isn’t too sweet. At around £7 a bottle I’d definitely say this one is worth a go for a wine night without the hangover.
BEST ALCOHOL FREE FIZZ
My winner in the alcohol free fizz category is this little can from Lyre’s. The Lyre’s Classico is an alcohol free ‘Italian inspired sparkling drink’ and it actually tastes like alcohol – I have no idea how they’ve done it! It’s beautifully dry and crisp with a subtle sweetness. It tastes totally different to any other AF fizz I’ve tried and it doesn’t have that typical ‘alcohol free taste’ you often get. It looks a little pale in a glass but that really doesn’t matter when it tastes the way it does!
It comes in cans which are super handy if you just wanted one (although I could easily drink a whole bottle!). However it does also come in bottle form for around £9 if you wanted a cork to pop or fancied sharing with friends. LOVE this one. 10/10.
Noughty is a great alcohol free sparkling wine. It’s completely alcohol free but somehow manages to taste close to the real thing with a lovely adult palette. With it’s fancy embossed label, good bubbles and delicious taste it’s one of the best subs I’ve found so far and makes for a lovely gift to a non-drinking friend.
Around £9 a bottle its pricey but if you’re looking for a nice fizz sub that feels fancy, this is your bottle.
Non Alcoholic Drinks: THE FAILS!
The drinks I’ve tried but didn’t rate…so you can save your money!
RED WINE: I’ve tried the majority of supermarket AF red wines and even a bottle of ‘Win-e’ 12 month oak aged Crianza Tempranillo at a whopping £10.99 a pop. It was TERRIBLE.
I even shelled out a painful £35 for a tasting box of the Jukes Cordialities after being bombarded by their rather persistent Facebook ad campaign on my feed. I’d noticed a few very positive jukes cordialities reviews in newspapers and via the quotes on their website but wasn’t overly sure. Usually these Facebook ads are littered with people leaving brutally honest comments with their opinions underneath them but there was nothing. Even a direct search for ‘jukes cordialities review’ on google wasn’t overly convincing, so I took the plunge.
My Jukes Cordialities review? Overall, it’s a flop. These are apple cider vinegar based so there was always going to be an element of that in the glass – I was hoping it might help combat the sickly sweetness you often find in non-alcoholic wines. But for me vinegar was all I could smell and taste across the board with all of their bottles – the whites, the reds and the rose – SO strong. There are distinct flavour differences between each bottle and they’re certainly not too sweet so that’s a bonus, but the vinegar taste is WAY too much and they’re just not nice.
Our AF red wine search continues…
(Jukes Cordialities actually did reach out to me online and explained they have a 30 day money back guarantee on their product if it’s not to your taste. They said some palettes apparently pick up on vinegar more than others so may not enjoy them. Whether that’s true or whether it’s a clever get out clause to lure other customers in I’m not sure, but at least I should get my money back (less return postage for the bottles I didn’t drink) so I can continue the search with some other brands!)
FIZZ: I’ve also tried Freixenet 0.0% and Nosecco – both very very sweet with that slightly strange ‘alcohol free wine’ taste you tend to get.
BEER: So Doombar Zero – wasn’t awful, I just wasn’t a huge fan of this one so it doesn’t make my good list. A very empty taste to an ale that usually has a satisfying heaviness to it.
GIN: The majority of AF gins are ok, but Seedlip Spice just wasn’t for me. It felt WAY too strong on the cardamom even in tonic.
I’m going to keep updating my non alcoholic drinks list as I discover new tastes in each category so feel free to bookmark it or follow me on Instagram @xameliax where you’ll get updates as and when I find and test them!
Other non alcoholic drinks substitutes I enjoy for a bit of a different taste are sparkling water with elderflower or apple cordial or a glass of cold kombucha!
If you’re a brand with a no/low alcohol substitute you’d like us to try, feel free to drop us an email email@example.com!
PIN THIS NON ALCOHOLIC DRINKS IDEAS LIST
*If avoiding alcohol for medical or addiction reasons please do talk to your GP before pouring a low alcohol sub. Even though you’d need to drink a LOT of a low alcohol sub to be near the limit, please do be aware of alcohol content and consumption if you intend to drive or are pregnant.