Forget watery beer and sugar-rush fizzy pop, alcohol-free drinks have done some growing up. Here’s the best of the bunch if you’re taking an alco-holiday this month
Sparkling English Rose
£10 (750ml), LA Brewery
Kombucha – an ancient fermented beverage traditional in China – has exploded in popularity over the past few years, and LA Brewery’s Sparkling English Rose is one of the best of the bunch. Encased in a classy bottle, this all-natural offering has a crisp flavour and refreshing fizz – making it a great champagne substitute for non-drinkers. It’s made with a blend of Assam and White Monkey tea, and infused with rose petals and wild elderflower for a fragrant, floral result.
£24.99, Three Spirit
A favourite of the Cambridge Edition editor, Three Spirit’s Livener is the pack leader for the new guard of ‘functional’ non-alcoholic drinks. The company utilises active ingredients that make you feel great – in the case of the Livener, natural stimulants guayusa and schisandra – but have 0% ABV, meaning zero risk of a hangover. A lot of AF drinks claim to have functional effects, but the Livener is one of the very few that actually delivers, giving you an energised, giddy buzz that makes it perfect for parties. It also tastes amazing, with a hit of bright botanicals, zingy berries, warming spice and a satisfying bite of bitterness. Want to relax rather than pep up? Check out Three Spirit’s Nightcap, which is a woody and smooth elixir designed to be served over ice, for a mellow evening in.
Ever wondered what Made in Chelsea’s Spencer Matthews is up to now? Making delicious alcohol-free drinks, that’s what! He launched CleanCo in 2019, driven by a desire to create a sophisticated alternative to booze at a time in his life when he wanted to consume less alcohol. A high point of the range is the Clean V Spiced Apple, a vodka-ish offering with a warming apple flavour, topped off with a hint of cinnamon. Cosy, but crisp, like a January morning.
Peach Ginger CBD Drink
£14 (six-pack, 330ml cans), Trip
CBD, aka the non-psychoactive part of cannabis, is popping up all over the place at the moment, and the world of beverages is no exception. CBD enthusiast Trip, with its range of infused fizzy tipples packaged in cute pastel cans, is a front runner –
and the fiery, floral peach and ginger blend is the one to try.
Another member of the functional AF family, Spirited Euphoria promises to trigger “feelings of pleasure and relaxation”. It’s a hemp-based recipe containing CBD, and also utilises natural ‘nootropics’ (cognition enhancers) and soothing adaptogens (herbal stress busters). It’s made by the futuristic-sounding Endorphin Dealer Institute, whose founders come from the world of Formula E – a motor sport championship that uses electric cars. The big idea was to create a drink which didn’t leave them foggy for racing the next day, and which modernised and disrupted the spirit industry in the same way their sport had the motoring industry. It gives a floaty mood boost and feeling of unwinding, and there’s a deliciously complex flavour, blending aromatic notes, peppery spices, herbal elements and layers of citrus.
£19.99 (12-pack, 330ml cans), Infinite Session
A plucky start-up with big dreams, Infinite creates a range of AF brews that includes American pale ale, lager and IPA. Our top pick is the latter, which is smooth and full-bodied (thanks to the carefully honed malt recipe), with a hoppy, refreshing flavour and citrus tang. In a market rife with AF beers that are pale imitations of the ‘real thing’, Infinite really sets the bar. How? “Put simply, we create alcohol-free beer that actually tastes like beer!” says Chris Hannaway, company co-founder. “Our range offers the same level of flavour and craftsmanship as our alcoholic counterparts.”
Dry? We Say Try!
Matt Hodgson from Grape Britannia picks out some lower-alcohol lovelies to brighten a dull day
Nutbourne Vineyards Nutty Wild NV, £19.99
A super-sparkling wine made from wild yeast ferment and with minimal interference. Delicate hints of wild strawberries, raspberries and a soft blush tint. ABV 10%.
Knightor Winery Three Barrels Bacchus 2019, £16.99
Peach, honeyed oak, elderflower pressé and delicate apple shine through in this unique, small batch wine. A gorgeous, grown-up stop-ferment style from Cornwall. ABV 8%.
Heppington Vineyard Pinot Noir 2020, £17.99
This delightful Kentish Pinot Noir offers a hint of oaky savouriness, with bright notes of raspberry sorbet and a cheeky cherry finish. ABV 11%
All wines listed above can be purchased from Grape Britannia on Arbury Road.
If you’re pairing your alcohol cleanse with a fitness kick, why not check out our article on ways to stay active in Cambridge?