The Handbook
The Handbook

Indulged in a little too much lockdown liquor, aren’t a drinker, pregnant or simply looking to be a little more virtuous?

We’ve raided the no and low cabinet to bring you the best tipples that won’t give you a hangover, whether you’re into your craft beers or your cocktails.

Non-alcoholic drinks have come a long way since a token bottle of Shloer – the name itself should have rung alarm bells – and now the market is full of grown-up drinks that haven’t simply subbed alcohol content for heaps of sugar. No- and low-ABV is big business with a flurry of premium brands that not only look good on your bar cart but taste half decent too (without getting you half cut).

If you’re into your gins, you’re in luck as the gin-inspired sector is without a doubt the best, from East London Liquor Co.’s premium canned G&Ts (just 0.5%) to Seedlip, the alcohol alternative on the lips, quite literally, of every teetotaller who knows their stuff.

But if you’re into wine, beer or even rum, we’ve road tested a multitude of products before you bite the bullet – the lack of alcohol hasn’t lowered the price in most of these but we can guarantee they’re worth it.

Here’s what we found…

If you like gin…

1. Seedlip Garden 108 | £26.50 | Waitrose.com

The Rolls Royce of non-alcoholic spirits, Seedlip came onto the scene like a big, wholesome juggernaut alternative to the nation’s much-loved G&T. They’ve nailed it with the marketing, from a bottle that looks good on your shelf to creative recipes and partnerships with some of the best bars in London, and while £25 and up might sound expensive for a drink that doesn’t contain a lick of booze, it tastes and feels like a premium product.

It genuinely tastes good (if you’re into botanical – it’s herby!) and probably has the most ‘grown-up’ flavour of all that we tried. Mix like you would a gin and tonic, with tonic water (we like Fever Tree) and a sprig of rosemary.

2. Stryyk Not Gin | £15.95 | Master of Malt

Get that juniper flavour without the alcohol with Stryyk’s 0% gin, or ‘Not Gin’ as they call it. Made just like a gin is with a series of botanicals – this one uses juniper, basil and rosemary – and no artificial sugars, it’s a healthier option to many low and no drinks that overcompensate with sugar.

Top tip: go heavy handed and pour a double (you don’t want it to taste insipid), top with tonic and a slice of fresh grapefruit.

3. East London Grapefruit Gin & Tonic 0.5%ABV | £20 for 12 cans | East London Liquor Co.

You can still get involved with Britain’s gin-in-a-tin culture at your next park picnic with East London Liquor Co.’s nifty little cans. Containing no more than 0.5% ABV – to give it some context, you are likely to find a similar ABV in fresh fruit juice – it’s perfect for those who don’t drink at all, are looking to cut back or can’t drink for medical reasons.

Made with London Dry Gin distillate and mixed with their homemade tonic, it uses natural fruit extracts and juices for the citrusy flavour and contains no preservatives, artificial sweeteners or colours. Virtuous, delicious and no one need know you’re not drinking the real deal.

If you like wine…

The below are a mixture of “wines” and aperitifs made with food in mind. So, if you’re missing out on pairing a decent red with your steak or long for a buttery white to match with seafood, these might just help.

  1. Æcorn Aromatic | £19.95 | The Whisky Exchange

Inspired by 17th century herbal remedies (stick with us, it’s good), and made using English Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier grapes, Æcorn is a fine choice for a pre-dinner tipple and even better with food. Again, like many of these premium no and low drinks, they can be an acquired taste – slightly medicinal and bitter – but if you’re after something that’s not full or sugar and tastes expensive, this is it.

Mix with Seedlip and garnish with an olive for an alternative to a martini, drink neat and chilled or with a splash of sparkling water.

2. Woodstar | £8.50 | Fortnum & Mason

We’ve been told that red wine is good for you for decades now, we’re yet to fully believe it, but here’s an alternative that genuinely is full of the good stuff. Made from açai berries, blackcurrants, botanicals and cocoa, it has a surprisingly fresh taste that pairs well with food, particularly red meats and cheeses.

Made in the cognac region, the growers know what they are doing, selecting and blending the best berries and botanicals using traditional methods to create a drink that’s full of character without the hangover.

Charcuterie nights when you’re teetotal just got better.

3. Nine Elms No. 18 | £16.95 | Master of Malt

If you like your drinks hard, but not that hard, Nine Elms No. 18 is the perfect choice. Distilled by London-based Nine Elms, it’s crafted to emulate wine without the need for alcohol. But it’s just as good poured over ice and sipped like a neat drink.

If you like cocktails…

“Gin” might take the lead when it comes to low ABV drinks but there are a host of brands hot on it’s heels that will provide the perfect base to your sundowners and 5pm-ers.

From Stryyk’s Not Rum (perfect with fresh lime and ginger ale) to Burrow and Sturgess Rhubarb and Rose Shrub, these bottles may look like top range liquors but they come in guilt free.

Not only do they make virtuous cocktails but great gifts for anyone who’s on the wagon.

Shop some of our tried and tested favourites below…

If you like beer…

Lighter beers that don’t sacrifice on flavour used to be near impossible to find and if you look to some of the big brands, they still are (tip: Heineken 0% is actually pretty decent).

If you’re after something that matches up to the East London hipsters and their penchant for a craft elixir, these are your best bets.

From Brewdog’s malty Nanny State to The Original Small Beer whose bottles are utterly brilliant, here are a few of our favourites to get stuck into minus the morning after.

Shop some of our tried and tested favourites below…

If you like fizz…

1. Martini Dolce 0% Non Alcoholic Sparkling Wine | £5.95 | The Whiskey Exchange

For a big name brand, Martini are ahead of the curve when it comes to low and no alcohol drinks – they’ve got an impressive product collection if you’re looking for something to make martinis with or are after some celebratory fizz.

Their Dolce is made with the finest Italian grapes and retains the great taste and character of Italian sparkling wine, with zero alcohol.

Perfect if you’ve something to celebrate but don’t want to dip into the drinks trolley.

2. Nosecco Alcohol Free Sparkling Wine | £3.50 | Sainsburys

If you’re sick of opting for an orange juice come drinks time, Nosecco comes out top for prosecco alternatives which can often be saccharine sweet. It is a little sugary, but doesn’t taste awfully artificial.

Tip: serve ice cold or add a dash of elderflower presse and fresh mint for a summery cocktail.

3. Scavi & Ray Alcohol-Free Sparkling Wine | £8.99 | Amazon

Made from the same Glera grape as its award-winning Prosecco, Scavi & Ray’s alcohol-free sparkling is a great choice. The flavour is delicately fruity, has a slightly smoky aroma with notes of pear, citrus and vanilla finished – great with shellfish or simply to sip when you’ve something to celebrate.

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