Non-Alcoholic Drinking

If you’ve come here before, you well know I enjoy a drink or two. Whereas it used to be a way to carouse in revelry, drinking morphed into another way to explore taste and culture. Pairing profiles, exploring a country a la its flavor palate -appreciating a good drink is on par with appreciating Van Gogh or Mozart. Not to mention it’s a great way to wind down or enjoy an afternoon.

And then….congratulations! You’re pregnant! Of course, I found out right after restocking my personal wine cellar with a bunch of fun new bottles. Maybe you’re like me and have a distinct medical reason for declining the booze right now or maybe Covid-Quarantine has had you imbibing too much. Or maybe you just don’t do alcohol. In any case, I’m here to give you the lowdown on non-alcoholic drinking for the holidays.

Beer

Non-alcoholic beer has been around for a while. 0.0% Heineken can be found in many grocery stores, and several big name brands also carry alcohol free versions. If you enjoy your simple pilsners such as Bud Light or Miller, congratulations! Heineken 0.0 will hit the spot for you. If you want a slightly more complex alcohol-free option, I’ve enjoyed Erdinger’s Weissbeir from my local liquor store. But generally speaking, I’ve found these beers to hit the right “beer time” spot when munching on nachos and watching football.

The craft connoisseur will be disappointed in their selection -no heady saisons or double-chocolate milk stout porters here, but there is a glimmer of hope. Several breweries have developed no-alcohol craft options, and, surprisingly, they’re pretty tasty. While it’s not my cherished Left-Hand Milk Stout, the Athletic Brewing Company‘s All Out Stout did the trick when my husband kept taunting me with his Tailgate Peanut Butter Porter. WellBeing Brewing Company also carries a selection of more specialty beers including an Amber, Wheat and IPA.

Bottom Line: Non-alcoholic beer is enough to satisfy your cravings or try as a new venture.

Wine

I can’t tell you how excited I was to learn that there was a website called. Wines For Mothers on my first Google search for Non-Alcoholic wine. The thrill was somewhat deflated after I got my first shipment. You’ll find alcohol free versions of your basics -cabernet, chardonnay, red blends, white blends, roses, and bubbly. One category takes it all.

Curious at my options, I ordered a variety in my case. My first was an attempt at cabernet sauvignon. I think I could have substituted with my balsamic. For all the flat wines I tasted, the same truth remained -they tasted just like the old vinegar they are. I wound up using most of them in fruity sangria mixes and vowed to stay away.

But the bubbly -oh the bubbly. While I haven’t yet found a Lambrusco option, the whites and roses I tried all had the crisp semi-sweet notes a sparkling wine should. While I tried them out just looking for a good mimosa, I was pleased to find they’re entirely drinkable in their own accord.

Bottom Line: My advice on non-alcoholic wine? Skip everything but the sparkles.

Spirits

During my search, I didn’t have much hope for non-alcoholic spirits. I knew non-alcoholic beer existed, and while I still don’t quite know how that process works, I figured there was no way it was possible to recreate something that came from a still. Boy was I wrong.

Thank the health conscious Californian’s I guess, but the non-alcoholic spirits market is booming. I’ve got everything from the standard gin, whiskey and tequila mimics to Aperol and Triple Sec alternatives. Thanks to the geniuses at Lyre’s Spirits, I routinely enjoy non-alcoholic negronis.

Lyre’s is by far the most expansive brand I’ve found. They’ve got replacements for just about everything -even absinthe! -and offer recipes to mimic all the classic cocktails. Seedlip follows a different strategy offering botanical blends that make delicious drinks but eschewing any connection to traditional cocktail culture. I’ve wandered through a few other brands, and my favorite standard replacement so far is the Monday Gin. Explore at will, but there’s one spirit you won’t find here -turns out that since vodka traditionally has no flavor profile, there’s no fake vodka.

Bottom line: Non-alcoholic spirits are breaking barriers, probably so Hollywood stars can enjoy their gin & tonics without dehydrating their perfect skin. Worth the experimentation.

My Bottom Line on Non-Alcoholic Drinking

Am I likely to keep coming for these options once I’m released from my purgatory? I doubt it. While everything I’ve encountered has done me right and I’ve relished my Italian Spritz instead of the Aperol version, it’s just not the same. Still, it’s fascinating to see everything that’s flooding the market to help curb the overly indulgent drinking culture. I’m glad there are alternatives available, and happy to support them while I’m here.

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