Your Complete Guide to Non-Alcoholic Drinks

Sip and skip the next-day headache by opting for one of these trendy non-alcoholic drinks. Discover some of the best non-alcoholic wines, spirits, and beers.

Chardonnay Creamsicle Punch
Photo: Carson Downing

Just a decade or two ago, the main option for those who wanted a non-alcoholic drink at a cocktail bar, wine bar, brewery, or restaurant would be club soda with lime, lemonade, regular soda, or plain ol’ water.

Whether it’s due to religion, pregnancy, for addiction reasons, or simply the fact that you don’t want to or don’t like to drink—or just want to take a night or a month off—there’s no wrong reason to choose not to booze. And you certainly won’t be alone in selecting the non-alcoholic drink these days. (You might also see these referred to as NA, zero-proof, or spirit-free drinks or mocktails.) Thanks to an increased interest in sober curiosity and mindful drinking, the average American is drinking 3.6 alcoholic drinks per week, down significantly from 4.5 per week in 2015, according to a July 2021 Gallup poll. That’s the lowest rate of drinks per week this yearly survey has found since 2001.

To fill the large gap in the market for high-quality, grown-up non-alcoholic drink options, dozens of large beverage companies are adding non-alcoholic wine, non-alcoholic beer, and non-alcoholic spirit products to their line-ups. Some brands are focusing solely on creating alcohol-free alternatives, and this means that the best non-alcoholic wines, beers, and spirits actually taste as complex and delicious as their boozy counterparts.

Check out our selections for the 13 best non-alcoholic drinks you can buy, then read on for more about all of the options.

What to Look For in the Best Non-Alcoholic Drinks

According to the 2022 Non-Alcoholic Category Report from online drink retailer Drizly, more than 100 non-alcoholic brands are now sold on their site—70% more than the same time just 12 months prior. This includes non-alcoholic spirits, wines, beers, and non-alcoholic ready-to-drink cocktail alternatives.

The best non-alcoholic drinks have all of the flavor elements and layers you might be familiar with in alcoholic ones, just without the booze. Balance in a drink generally comes from dialing in the amount of acid, salinity (salt), sweetness, and water in the “recipe.” These factors play off each other, just like the seasonings and ingredients you include in your favorite dinner or dessert recipe. 

It can be challenging to recreate the nuance and character without alcohol in the mix, since that’s what many adults are used to when they order or mix up a classic cocktail or sip on a glass of Champagne, for instance. But taking advantage of spicy, bitter, or sour notes can score similar results. As can distilling herbs to infuse in the recipe, much like spirit distillers do with gins.

Before we go any further, a few notes of caution: Since modern non-alcoholic drinks look and taste so much like their spiked counterparts, they may impact the recovery process for those dealing with addictions. And as part of the drink-a-bit-less movement, there are also many low-alcohol wines, beers, and mixed drinks on the market, so be sure to read the label closely to ensure you’re getting a non-alcoholic drink (rather than a low-ABV one) if that’s important for you.

The Best Non-Alcoholic Wines

The non-alcoholic wines still make up a very small part of the overall wine market, but a Fact.MR market research report predicts that the non-alcoholic wine will explode in the next decade. A handful of companies are now already dedicated to creating “dealcoholized” versions of red wines, white wines, rosé wines, and sparkling wines. Vacuums, osmosis, and other innovative techniques are employed as part of the dealcoholization process, which removes the alcohol but allows the beneficial nutritional elements, such as anthocyanins, to remain.

Some of the most popular non-alcoholic wine brands include:

By the way, if you’re interested in non-alcoholic drinks, our guide to the best cooking wine substitutes, according to our Test Kitchen might also come in handy.

The Best Non-Alcoholic Spirits

Crafted to mimic a classic liquor, liqueur, apéritif, or digéstif (such as whiskey, rum, gin, tequila, or Aperol), these non-alcoholic spirits are infused with botanical ingredients, juices, spices, and beyond. In addition to the classic NA spirits, many of these companies also offer ready-to-drink cocktail versions that are nearly identical—minus the alcohol—to their classic gin and tonic, Aperol spritz, margarita, old fashioned, and daiquiri counterparts.

Some of the most popular non-alcoholic spirit brands include:

The Best Non-Alcoholic Beers

Back in the 1990s, O’Doul’s was among the only and often considered the best non-alcoholic beers around. That OG NA beer now has a lot more company—and a lot more demand—according to the latest industry data. Sales of non-alcoholic beers have skyrocketed 90% in the last 10 years, and with brands like Athletic Brewing gaining big-name investors like Momofuku’s David Chang and NFL star JJ Watt, this rocket won’t be landing any time soon.

Many large breweries now offer NA options, including Lagunitas, Budweiser, and Heineken. These are among the most popular and widely-available brands that focus specifically on non-alcoholic beer:

The Bottom Line About Non-Alcoholic Drinks

Due to an increase in demand and technological and recipe innovations, you now have dozens of amazing-tasting non-alcoholic drink options to choose from while out on the town or entertaining at home. Beyond all of the non-alcoholic drinks mentioned above, more “functional” drinks and non-traditional options are joining the party, including HOP WTR, Recess, Kin, and TÖST.

The non-alcoholic drink wave is one food trend we don’t see slowing down anytime soon—and we’re grateful for that. Cheers to enjoying a flavorful drink with no hangover or regrets the next day.

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  1. Megan Brenan. (2021, August 19) U.S. Alcohol Consumption on Low End of Recent Readings. Gallup.
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