A boozeless future?

Companies are pouring creativity into nonalcoholic offerings.
Creative nonalcoholic brands like Three Spirit take the idea of booze and turn it on its head, while creative craft brewers are taking their classic beers NA. Courtesy Three Spirit

Nonalcoholic beverages are coming into their own, providing an option for those who want to avoid alcohol for whatever reason they choose.

Some might scoff at the idea of nonalcoholic versions of boozy drinks, but there are plenty of times and places they fit into. It’s no shock the “sober curious” movement is catching on quicker with better alternatives, and it’s adopted a nice nickname as well: the “NoLo” category of beverages. The 2022 Bacardi Cocktail Trends Report found 58% of global customers are expected to drink more NoLo beverages than last year. That’s a significant chunk and likely shows a healthier relationship with booze is on the way.

Perhaps the most impressive entry to the nonalcoholic trend has been Athletic Brewing Company, which is based in Connecticut and recently completed a big expansion in San Diego. The beers are incredibly tasty and certainly can tease a drinker into thinking it’s a full-alcohol craft beer. They still have calories, probably about half that of the boozy versions of a style of beer, but they leave a drinker free of grogginess the next morning, no matter how many are downed.

Then there’s Monday Gin. It’s one of the few really solid nonalcoholic spirits imitating a full spirit. It clocks in at zero calories yet tastes just like a gin should. Without a mixer, the lack of booze is a bit noticeable, but toss in some tonic water and lime, and no one is the wiser.

Recently, a craft beer pioneer, Oregon’s Deschutes, released a nonalcoholic version of its flagship Black Butte Porter. Craft distillery WhistlePig, known for its punchy and delicious rye whiskies, released a 100% Rye Aged Non-Whiskey.

Pop star Katy Perry even is getting in on the trend, releasing De Soi, a line of sparkling, nonalcoholic aperitifs.

There are other lines, too, that are moving away from replicating real spirits to forging their own new paths. For example, Optimist Botanicals and Three Spirit. The latter is a trio of elixirs with function and unique tastes made from botanicals. One of them is meant to liven the senses, another elevates the mood, while another calms the mind to prepare for sleep.

Grand Rapids restaurants are jumping on the trend, with several eateries, including The Sovengard and Terra, highlighting low- and nonalcoholic cocktails on their menus.

Many Americans need to examine their relationship with alcohol, especially at a time when trendy craft beverages can hide what otherwise would be considered substance abuse issues. The good news is there’s plenty of healthier options to help people get back on track.

This story can be found in the March/April 2022 issue of Grand Rapids Magazine. To get more stories like this delivered to your mailbox, subscribe here

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