Non-alcoholic spirits are leading the no-proof revolution

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You’ve swapped your winter coat for a light jacket, changed your clocks by an hour and maybe even replaced your snow tires with the all-weather kind. So why haven’t you exchanged your non-alcoholic glass of wine for a fresh and fun spring mocktail? 

Chilled pineapple margarita made with non-alcoholic spirits, garnished with lime and pineapple on a salt-rimmed glass.
Shake up spring drinking with these fizzy and fruity mocktail tips. Photo credit: The Spirited Sip.

When it comes to the world of non-alcoholic beverages, Sober October and Dry January seem to get all the attention. But spring, with its sunny days and warmer temperatures, is the perfect time to adopt new and healthy habits. After a long winter, you might feel ready to relax in the sun with a mocktail in hand — especially if you aren’t a fan of alcohol-free beer or wine. Luckily, the recent wave of new zero-proof spirits has made it easier than ever to enjoy delicious mixed drinks this spring.

Understanding why alcohol-free spirits are soaring in popularity

According to Nielsen IQ, while sales of alcoholic beer, wine and spirits have dropped since 2019, sales of non-alcoholic beverages are rapidly growing. In 2023 alone, Americans spent over 500 million dollars on non-alcoholic wine, beer and spirits, reflecting a broader movement towards wellness and moderation. Sales of non-alcoholic spirits have also taken off in recent years, growing by 88.4% between 2021 and 2022, outpacing alcohol-free beer and wine.

The reasons to go alcohol-free are as varied as the many alternatives to traditional alcoholic beverages. Sobriety, religion, convenience, health, taste and curiosity are just a few potential motivations. Thanks to this growing interest, you won’t have to search far to track down non-alcoholic alternatives. Today, zero-proof spirits can be found everywhere from your liquor store to your local bar or even your nearest Walmart.

The art of zero-proof mixology 

Zero-proof spirits are beverages that contain very little alcohol or no alcohol at all. Generally, these drinks range from 0% to 0.5% alcohol by volume or ABV and are considered non-alcoholic. Many zero-proof spirits are designed to emulate classic types of alcohol, such as gin, tequila and whiskey, without any of the alcohol.

You can also use them to make your own unique non-alcoholic cocktails. Here are some things to consider when mixing drinks with zero-proof spirits.

Tools of the trade

Sure, you can make it work with a mason jar and a whisk. But if you’re serious about taking your mixed drinks to the next level, consider investing in a cocktail kit. The flavors in this virgin lychee mojito mocktail, for example, will stand out all the more with the help of a muddler.

Ice, ice, baby

There’s nothing worse than a warm drink that’s supposed to be chilled. Specialty ice cube trays, like the ones that produce perfect spheres or dramatic pyramids, are a simple way to add some pizzazz to your glass.

Set the bar high

When you’re creating your home bar, don’t overlook garnishes like dried fruit slices, non-alcoholic bitters, maraschino cherries and all the other little touches that make a drink feel fancy. Plus, most of these ingredients are shelf-stable, so you won’t have to worry about them going bad if you don’t drink much.

Raise your glass

Okay, so this one doesn’t have much to do with the taste, but your drink will feel all the more special served in a unique glass. Your local thrift store is a great place to find exciting glassware at an affordable price.

Spring-inspired non-alcoholic spirits and ingredients 

Summer evokes sangria, fall is inseparable from pumpkin spice, and winter is the best time to enjoy eggnog — but what are the flavors of spring? Delicate flowers, tangy citrus and gentle herbs are all excellent ways to capture this season’s magic. Spring drinks should be fizzy, playful and exciting, like the first touch of the sun after a span of gray days.

Decorative ice cubes with spring flowers

Yes, florals for spring are no longer groundbreaking, but there’s still something magical about seeing those first flowers emerge out of the thawing earth. Herbs and flowers can be frozen into fancy ice cubes, capturing that feeling of new growth in a frozen environment. Use edible violets, thyme, lavender or other spring herbs or flowers for your floral ice cubes. Don’t forget to boil the water and let it cool for crystal-clear ice.

Kick up the flavor with infused spirits

Although non-alcoholic spirits are becoming increasingly popular, there still isn’t the widespread flavor variety you might find in your local liquor store’s tequila or vodka sections. Not to worry — infusing zero-proof spirits allows you to replicate your favorite vanilla vodka or spicy tequila. For a spring mocktail, pair these zero-proof beverages with seasonal flavors such as citrus, strawberry or mint.

Not your grandmother’s rhubarb

Rhubarb is one of the earliest plants to become available in the spring, and its eye-catching pastel pink color looks gorgeous in a mocktail. Plus, its taste works well with a wide range of zero-proof spirits.

Lemons, limes and grapefruit

If you’re lucky enough to live in a warmer climate, then you’ll know that citrus fruits remain in season throughout early spring. The tangy, zesty flavors are a much-needed change from the decadent and hearty beverages traditionally associated with winter. A non-alcoholic Aperol spritz, for example, is the perfect reminder that sunny days are around the corner. 

Spring into the world of mocktails

Maybe you’re hosting a spring fling, or maybe you just want to enjoy a sunny 5 o’clock after a long, dark winter. Either way, don’t overlook the power of zero-proof spirits this spring. Gathering the proper tools and garnishes, thinking carefully about spring flavors and embracing your creative side are all great ways to enjoy spring. 

Ksenia Prints is a writer, blogger, photographer and recipe developer from Montreal, Canada. She blogs at Spirited Sip, a food blog showcasing non-alcoholic drinks. She believes that any well-crafted drink can be fun, feisty and invigorating for our health, our bodies and our souls.

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