The current soft drink market is strong. Gone are the days when the only alternative to alcohol was water or soda and lime, now the best soft drinks come in all forms. The drinks industry has sat up and listened to the growing number of Britons who don’t fancy an alcoholic drink but also don’t want to be stuck sipping painful sugary juice at their next party at the home. With six million of us alcohol-free and a third actively reducing our drinking, there’s never been a better time to join the sober society.
The choice of alcohol-free and low-alcohol drinks is vast. From compelling non-alcoholic beers to truly delicious fizzies and grown-up soft drinks, not to mention a number of fabulous gin alternatives. If you want a little more information on non-alcoholic and low-alcohol drinks, our buying guide below goes over the basics. Otherwise, scroll through our list of the best – there’s bound to be something to tempt you away from your next hangover.
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Best soft drinks: at a glance
How to choose the best soft drinks for you
How much should I spend?
Generally, non-alcoholic alternatives are only nominally cheaper than their alcoholic counterparts. This may seem unfair considering the lack of ABV, but given that it’s often a complicated and delicate process to create non-alcoholic beers, wines and spirits, it’s understandable. Producers must grow, brew, distill and/or ferment the drinks the same way the alcoholic version would be made, so any dealcoholization is a separate process. Of course, naturally non-alcoholic beverages like sodas and tonics are often more affordable; drinks that seek to imitate alcohol are usually the most expensive.
Weak or not?
There are hundreds of soft drinks out there, but some that are marketed as non-alcoholic can contain a tiny trace of up to 0.5% ABV. Consider your motivations for avoiding alcohol in these cases: those seeking to completely exclude alcohol from their lifestyle for health or religious reasons should always check labels.
Likewise, anyone toeing a conservative line when it comes to alcohol would be better off avoiding beverages that look, feel, and taste like harsh stuff and opt for one of the many soft drinks, spritzes, and tonics. specially designed in the market instead.
What should I look for?
The selection is big enough these days that you can shop for your favorite flavors, styles, grapes and more. Fancy a cider but have to drive later? No worries, there are many styles of 0% cider to choose from. Do you have something to celebrate but an early morning departure? Sparkling wines have really made an appearance, so take your pick of non-alcoholic prosecco, softer bubbles, or champagne-style sparkling wine. The alcohol-free world is your oyster now.
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The best soft drinks to buy in 2022
1. Three Spirit Nightcap: The best non-alcoholic nightcap
Price: £25 | Shop now at Three Spirit
Three Spirit is doing great things in the non-alcoholic beverage space and is really helping to change the way consumers think about drinking. Their range of herbal elixirs are formulated to suit situations or moods where you might otherwise reach for an alcoholic drink. We love this Nightcap iteration, which uses indulgent natural ingredients to help you wind down and relax for an evening.
Serve straight as a whiskey or mix with ginger ale to enjoy the initial woody notes mingling with rich, round vanilla, black pepper and spice for a satisfying adult-only nightcap. Best of all, Three Spirit uses plant energy to help you relax, with adaptogenic ashwagandha and valerian root (both known as sleeping pills), plus delicate lemon balm, traditionally used to combat the stress and anxiety; dreamer.
Key Details – Volume: 500ml; Little or no alcohol: Nope
Shop now at Three Spirit
2. Belvoir Farm Botanical Soda Bitter Orange Spritz: The best non-alcoholic soda
Price: £1.75 | Shop now at Sainsburys
Not everyone wants a drink to mimic alcohol, which is why this new creation from Belvoir Farms is a great non-alcoholic option. Our favorite from its new line of botanical sodas, the Bitter Orange Spritz is an effervescent blend of Sicilian blood orange, pressed rhubarb, aromatic herbs and bitters, paired with sparkling water to create a substitute for alcohol ready to drink. With only 4.5g of sugar and less than 20 calories per 100ml, it’s truly refreshing to enjoy as a mocktail or soda that’s not super sweet and is as nice and sophisticated as sipping an Aperol. Spritz.
We liked the noticeable bitter orange flavor, which was reminiscent of a natural, tangy marmalade, and the fact that it was free of preservatives, flavors, artificial colors and sweeteners. Serve perfectly chilled over ice with a slice of blood orange or a shaving of rhubarb for extra points. And if orange isn’t your thing, then the Floral Fizz and Spicy Ginger Fizz are equally delicious.
Key Details – Volume: 500ml; Little or no alcohol: Nope
Shop now at Sainsburys
3. Big Drop Brewing Paradiso Citra IPA: The best non-alcoholic beer
Price: £5 | Shop now at Tesco
The non-alcoholic beer market is crowded, but the good news is that there are so many great non-alcoholic and low-alcohol beers out there. Of all the alcohol substitutes, beer makers are the ones who have truly nailed their craft and this example from the brilliant Big Drop Brewing is a prime offering. An unapologetically citrusy IPA, this 0.5% beer is packed with crunchy hints of grapefruit and zest alongside a crisp, hoppy character that adds up to a refreshing, slightly tangy beer – ideal for designated drivers and non-alcoholic drinkers.
At just 61 calories per can, it’s also a healthier option than your standard beer and also happens to be gluten-free. The fresh, fruity profile makes it a winner for a non-alcoholic lunch and for enjoying a beer or two during the day without the afternoon low. La Paradiso won the World’s Best award in the No and Low category at the World Beer Awards 2021 and it’s all too easy to see why: it’s a good beer, just without the alcohol and we bet you can’t tell .
Key Details – Volume: 4x330ml; Little or no alcohol: Low (0.5%)
Shop now at Tesco
4. Eisberg Merlot: The best non-alcoholic red wine
Price: £20 (6 bottles) | Buy now on Amazon
Non-alcoholic wines are notoriously difficult to obtain, with so many unfortunately veering into pure grape juice territory. This, from leading non-alcoholic wine makers Eisberg, is the best red we’ve found over the years. It will never fool anyone that this is a standard alcoholic Merlot, but it has more real wine character than most other non-alcoholic wines.
Made from German Merlot grapes and with the alcohol carefully removed, the resulting liquid has great dark fruit flavors and a pleasant dry style that works well for sipping on the couch or enjoying a meal. At 29 calories per shot glass, it’s also a healthier way to wind down in the evening, and its full-bodied, smooth style makes it a pleasure rather than a chore. Eisberg’s sparkling white is also very indulgent.
Key Details – Volume: 6x750ml; Little or no alcohol: Low (0.05%)
Buy now on Amazon
5. Oddbird Blanc de Blancs: The best alcohol-free champagne alternative
Price: £12 | Shop now at Dry Drinker
For any occasion that calls for a serious sparkle, Oddbird’s Blanc de Blancs should be your first port of call. Unlike many dealcoholized fizzies, this finely crafted French sparkling wine is crisp, dry and almost tastes like the real deal. Moms-to-be, dry January followers, and anyone health conscious won’t feel like they’re missing a glass of this in their hand.
Blanc de blanc refers to sparkling wines made in Champagne that use only white grapes – many Champagnes use red Pinot Noir grapes – and is an elegant and refined style of wine. This non-alcoholic version is no different. Made exclusively from Chardonnay grapes, which are then aged briefly in oak barrels, this wine has a nose of orchard fruits and more green apples on the palate. Although it lacks the telltale toasty taste of champagne, pleasant tasting notes are still present: it has a special taste. To be enjoyed as a festive aperitif or simply to treat yourself.
Key Details – Volume: 750ml; Little or no alcohol: Nope
Shop now at Dry Drinker