Forget syrupy Shirley Temples and sweet fruit juices spiked with sodas, mocktails are growing up.

By Alexandra Emanuelli
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Photo by Allrecipes

The bar menu hasn't always been kind to designated drivers and others abstaining from alcohol. But you may have noticed, there is a societal shift at play. In 2019, one in five Americans participated in Dry January, according to a YouGov poll.  According to a recent report by Distill Ventures,  58% of consumers are already drinking more non-alcoholic or low-alcoholic beverages than last year. And while more people are looking to sip sober, non-alcoholic drinks aren't just for abstainers. Moderation is a factor, too, as many drinkers look to temper their consumption of alcohol. Start the evening with a flavorful mocktail, move to a glass or two of wine with dinner, then finish the night with a booze-free after-dinner drink -- you'll keep your wits about you with no hangover to hold you back the next day.

Stepping up to meet this new demand are an array of companies making booze-free beverages that can be mixed with tonic waters, simple syrups, or enjoyed simply on their own. Many are infused with herbs and spices to create complex flavor profiles; others boast beneficial ingredients designed to assist with relaxation and social interaction. Here are a couple companies that we think are pretty unique, Kin Euphorics and Seedlip.

"What to Drink, when You're Not Drinking"

Finding good non-alcoholic drinks to pair with dinner was not always easy for Ben Branson, CEO and founder of Seedlip. "I was having dinner in a nice restaurant in London," he recalls. "I wasn't drinking at the time and was offered this pink, fruity, childish mocktail – I felt embarrassed, it didn't go with the food and wasn't a great experience." But it was a motivating factor for Branson, who thought, "Maybe we could begin to solve the 'what to drink when you're not drinking' dilemma with a different approach to non-alcoholic drinks."

Today, Branson crafts highly sophisticated non-alcoholic beverages, combining centuries of apothecary knowledge and distillation techniques into his drinks. From the copper-still distillation to the handsomely designed bottles, none of the elegance you find with traditional spirits is lost. "Our Spirits are made with the highest quality ingredients, have no sugars or sweeteners, and when served with tonic or used as the base for a non-alcoholic cocktail, offer a complex, adult, credible alternative to their alcoholic counterparts."

Perhaps the most unique offering, Garden 108, has herbaceous, bright notes of peas and spearmint and floral top notes of hay. It's this complex layering that makes the beverage so food friendly

From Food Friendly to Euphoric

Food friendliness is a big part of the appeal of this new crop of exciting non-alcoholic options. Perhaps the next frontier for non-alcoholic drinks is to approximate the feeling of social drinking. Jen Batchelor, co-founder and CEO of Kin Euphorics, has a prediction. "The future of the industry lies with ingredients that are able to make people feel something, similar to the buzz people feel with alcohol, but without the harmful effects."

Kin's designers combine herbs and natural compounds like nootropics or adaptogens (used in traditional medicine to manage and balance the body's stress hormone cortisol) to create bevvies that promote deep sleep or help people relax and make personal connections, without the nasty hangovers. The beverage promotes a "blissful and centered" feeling and allows sippers the "cognitive awareness necessary to celebrate the moment and make meaningful connections," according to Batchelor.  In other words, all of the up side, none of the down side.

Yes, the future is bright for this new category, with more than 100 products dedicated to non-alcoholic beverages. Cheers to that.

For more, check out all of our favorite Mocktail Recipes.


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