Alcohol free drinks are getting more and more popular for a variety of reasons, and there are new ones being launched regularly. I’m reviewing three interesting grown up soft drinks for Autumn and Winter 2023 here.
Some are brand new and others are new to me, and there’s something for all palates and preferences.
While I’m not a fully teetotal person myself, I prefer to go alcohol-free several days of the week and really appreciate a tasty non-alcoholic beverage on those occasions. I like to have a little treat, try new and interesting flavours, and still wake up fresh the next day.
I’m sure I’m not the only one like this, and I also want to make sure there’s something nice in stock for my guests who are designated drivers, pregnant, or unable to drink because of medication, or other health issues, or any other reason including personal preference.
Let’s start with our first non-alcoholic drink review. It’s a rather nice new beer for the coming Autumn months.
Fungtn Shiitake Dark Lager 0.5%
This 2023-release alcohol free drink is definitely more like a dark ale or a malty bitter than a lager to me, and it’s the first drink in this category that I’ve found tasty enough to recommend to people. It has notes of coffee, brown sugar and chocolate, and makes a good cooler weather sip.
The recipe contains mushrooms, but there’s no mushroomy flavour here at all, just an easy-drinking booze-free beer. I can see myself drinking this on its own, or served with pies and stews, or anything with gravy. It’s currently £33.60 for a case of 12.
You don’t have to take my word for it though. It’s also won a 2023 Great Taste Awards star, a 2023 World Alcohol-Free Awards gold medal, and the World Alcohol-Free Awards ‘Best Gluten Free’ medal. Just for reference, 0.5% alcohol is the same as the alcohol content of natural orange juice. It counts as alcohol free.
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I have a couple more bitter and ale style drinks samples to try next month, and will be sure to let you know if any of those are great too. In the meantime, another reliable alternative is a good alcohol free stout – my favourites here so far are Drop Bear Bonfire Stout, Big Drop Galactic Milk Stout and Guinness Draught 0.0 alcohol Free Stout.
Wavey Ice Sips Non-Alcoholic Mixed Cocktail Box
These are fun non-alcoholic cocktails or mocktails in the flavour style of classic retro alcopops, and they come in a box of six squeezy pouches that’ll give you Capri Sun flashbacks. They’re currently £16.99 for a box, which contains three Virgin Mango & Pineapple Mojito (mango, pineapple, mint, and ‘rum’, 0% ABV) and three Virgin Sex on the Beach (orange, cranberry, peach and a slightly spicy/tingly ‘vodka’, 0% ABV).
The Mango & Pineapple Mojito flavour has won a silver medal at the 2023 Irish Quality Food & Drink Awards, and it’s also my favourite. There’s nothing else quite like it out there, and it’s a sweet yet refreshing flavour. I noticed in their reviews section that some kind mums have been buying these as a little gift for their pregnant daughters, which I thought was such a nice idea.
Find them at Wavey Ice.
CleanCo Clean W & Clean R spirit alternatives
If you’re more in the mood for sophisticated home mixed drinks or cocktail ingredients then you might be interested in two of CleanCo’s alcohol free spirit alternatives for the run up to the party season.
One of their newest offerings, Clean W, is a bourbon whiskey alternative. While you can never drink these things neat it will add notes of oak, vanilla, smoke and spice to your serves.
It’s sugar free as well as alcohol free, and I think it probably works best mixed with good quality cola. I’ve also tried it in an old fashioned and a whisky sour, and been pleasantly surprised. While it isn’t a dupe for bourbon, it adds interest and complexity.
CleanCo’s Clean R
CleanCo also make another dark spirit alternative, Clean R, that’s been around for a little longer. This can be subbed into non-alcoholic drinks for a lightly-spiced rum flavour without the hangover.
I’ve tried it in a Clean Cuba Libre with cola and lime, with coconut water and pineapple juice for a Clean-a-Colada and with ginger ale for a sober Dark & Stormy. All excellent. There’s something very Christmassy about rum notes, so I’ll be trying some festive cocktail recipes soon too.
That’s it for my quick round up and reviews of new alcohol free drinks for Autumn and Winter 2023.
Do you choose non-alcoholic drinks yourself, or serve them up for other people when they visit you? If there are any other categories that you’d like to hear more about – leave a message in the comments box below.
Full disclosure: Fungtn Shitake Dark Lager and other recommended beers purchased with my own money. Wavey Ice and Clean Co samples kindly supplied by PRs with no obligation to review.