One of the biggest drink trends that started picking up momentum in the late 2010s and continued to gain steam into the 2020s is zero-proof drinks. Sometimes, they’re referred to as alcohol-free (AF) or non-alcoholic beverages. These drinks have been specifically developed as healthier alternatives to alcoholic beverages.
Why drink zero-proof drinks?
Zero-proof drinks were created for those who are avoiding or abstaining from alcohol, but would still like to imbibe without subjecting themselves to the effects of alcohol. Common reasons for wanting to go booze-free are: being a designated driver (DD), detoxing after a period of heavy drinking (e.g. Dry January), pregnancy, avoiding interactions with medications, muscle building, losing weight, improving overall health, occupation requirements; or any number of other medical, religious and/or personal reasons.
These drinks are meant to be alternatives for alcohol-drinkers and the alcohol-curious to safely experience adult beverages minus the alcohol, not unlike the way Impossible Burger and Beyond Burger target meat-eaters who are trying to avoid meat.
While some non-alcoholic drinks simply eliminate alcohol from traditionally alcoholic beverages, many also provide positive benefits like antioxidants, adaptogens and other nutrients. Some even mimic the “happy buzzed” feeling of drinking alcohol without the negative side effects.
What is the difference between zero-proof, non-alcoholic and alcohol-free drinks?
Zero-proof and non-alcoholic drinks, spirits and beverages contain little to no alcohol. In order to meet U.S. food laws and regulations, a beverage must contain less than 0.5 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) to use the “non-alcoholic” label.
“Alcohol-free” drinks contain practically zero percent ABV to no alcohol. They may contain trace amounts of alcohol similar to amounts found naturally in foods and juices. For example, Heineken 0.0 is known as an alcohol-free beer, but technically contains 0.03 percent ABV. Heineken addresses this stating, Heineken® 0.0 has an alcohol by volume of 0.0% and is considered alcohol-free. Heineken® 0.0 contains a trace amount of alcohol ranging from 0.01 to 0.03% ABV, which is a comparable or lower level of alcohol content as compared to the alcohol content commonly found in food products such as breads, fruits and juices. Heineken® 0.0’s formula, alcohol content, and its label, have been reviewed and approved by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau in accordance with the regulations applicable to alcohol free malt beverages.
With such low to no levels of alcohol, these beverages are great substitutes for alcoholic beverages as any alcoholic effects on the body would be slim to none. However, if you want to absolutely guarantee that you are drinking a truly alcohol-free drink, you may want to consider sticking with beverages that traditionally contain no alcohol like water (still, sparkling, infused, etc.), tea, coffee, sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, fresh juices, smoothies, and milks (and avoid foods that naturally contain alcohol like fermented breads, fruits and juices).
What alcohol-free drink brands cater to those who are abstaining from alcohol?
There are dozens of companies that offer non-alcoholic beverages for those wanting to remain sober. Here are some of the most popular that have contributed to alcohol-free alternatives becoming more mainstream.
These beverages look and taste like beer without the alcohol.
- Athletic Brewing Co.
- Brooklyn Brewery
- Hop Wtr (obviously the liquid doesn’t look like beer, but the can does)
Non-alcoholic spirits, mocktails & mixers
Because many of these beverages include a combination of spirits, mixers and other ingredients, they are all listed together. The descriptions are based on the information on their websites.
- Betty Buzz – non-alcoholic mixers
- Casamara Club – non-alcoholic “leisure sodas”
- Curious Elixirs – non-alcoholic craft cocktails
- De Soi – non-alcoholic apéritifs with natural adaptogens
- For Bitter For Worse – non-alcoholic cocktails
- Ghia – non-alcoholic apéritifs
- Kin Euphorics – non-alcoholic adult beverages
- Lyre’s – non-alcoholic spirits
- Monday – non-alcoholic spirits
- Optimist Botanicals – alcohol-free spirits
- Petal – non-alcoholic sparkling water (think “virgin White Claw”)
- Rasasvada – zero-proof spirits
- Ritual – zero-proof spirits
- Seedlip – non-alcoholic spirits
- Spiritless – distilled non-alcoholic spirits
- Spirity – non-alcoholic cocktails distilled from tea
- Three Spirit – non-alcoholic drinks
These are drinks that taste like wine but have the alcohol removed.
- Hill Street Vin
- TÖST – non-alcoholic champagne
Celebrities have been getting into the alcohol-free trend as well. De Soi was launched by Katy Perry, Betty Buzz is promoted by Blake Lively and Kin Euphorics was cofounded by Bella Hadid.
Where can I get zero-proof drinks?
You can buy zero-proof drinks either directly from the manufacturers’ websites, at big box stores (like Target or Walmart), at health-conscious supermarkets (like Sprouts or Whole Foods) or at your local health food store. Better Rhodes and Boisson are online shops that specifically offer non-alcoholic beverages.
Whatever your reason for not drinking alcohol, there are virtually endless options for you to try. Cheers!
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Kristina Reynolds is the Founder & CEO of Glutto and an alumna of the University of California, San Diego. She writes articles & posts for Glutto Digest with insights from fellow industry experts. Furthermore, she is the author of The Fittest Food Lovers: How EVERY BODY Can be Incredibly Fit and Still Enjoy Food, a collaborative philanthropic book with proceeds going to charities that fight world hunger.