Are you doing a Dry January? Are you one of the increasing numbers of people choosing a low-or no-alcohol lifestyle? The Guardian recently reported on the alcohol-free drinks boom in France, land of wine-lovers. Here in Canada, we are seeing a rapid proliferation of offerings. Retailers like Clearsips offer online ease, and the grocery stores and local markets are all expanding their offerings of non-alcoholic drinks.
As a cocktail enthusiast, I am so excited by the innovation and rapid expansion in this sector. I am always up for a taste adventure, and this month, I tried some new products that continue to elevate the non-alcoholic drink experience.
Jukes Cordialities (a fabulous name for a welcoming glass to share with friends!) is a suite of premium adult beverages made in the vein of white, red, and rose wines. They are not intended to mimic wines but are intended to pair like them. The line is handmade in London and was created by Matthew Jukes, a wine expert who decided to make his own line of non-alcoholic beverages when he wasn’t able to find non-alcoholic wines that he enjoyed.
The word play on cordial is apt, as these are concentrated drinks that you dilute with still water, sparkling water or tonic. They are made with a base of organic apple cider vinegar, with all-natural flavouring from vegetables, fruits and herbs, so are like shrubs or switchels. They are quite tart, as you’d expect from a drink made with a vinegar base, they are very low in calories (with only around 20 calories per serving), and they look gorgeous in the glass (there is none of the residue you sometimes get with a shrub).
Jukes is available to buy online at Tre Amici. $60 for a box of nine bottles that will give eighteen servings. My favourite was Jukes 6, which I really enjoyed with tonic water.
Martini Non-Alcoholic Aperitivo
From the storied house of Martini, two new non-alcoholic aperitivos bring all the complex flavour to your spritz game. Both begin with the same wines that are used in classic Martini vermouths. The alcohol is removed and then the base is infused with botanicals. With a name like Martini behind them, you know that these will be reliable bottles on your bar.
Martini Floreale is a light, botanical aperitivo with notes of chamomile. I really enjoyed this straight up over ice. I’m in good company. Bloomberg included Floreale in the best new spirits of 2022.
Martini Vibrante is a fruity, citrusy aperitivo made with bergamot. This was the perfect ingredient in a non-alcoholic Negroni.
Both are now available in select Sobeys, Safeway and IGA stores across Canada for $16.99 and in the SAQ in Quebec.
Barbet Sparkling Water
Barbet sparkling waters are the creation of sister duo Andrea Grand and Katie Fielding. After Katie experienced a seizure, she cut out drinking alcohol, but found she was often asked why. With the flavours of Barbet, they aim to prompt the question “What are you drinking?” rather than “Why aren’t you drinking?”
Barbet comes in three varieties: Love Bite (grapefruit, ginger and juniper), Light Wave (cucumber, pineapple and lavender) and Wild Card (blood orange, calamansi lime and jalapeno). The flavours are present, but not overwhelming. As a gin-lover, Love Bite was my favourite with its earthy hint of juniper.
Barbet is hosting a number of events in January and February, from clothing swaps to pasta-making. Check out their full calendar here.
Barbet is available online for $34.50 for a 12-pack.
When in doubt, just add bubbles.
When we interviewed Sarah Kate, Canada’s first non-alcoholic sommelier, she said something that has stayed with me in my understanding of non-alcoholic drinks. She said that with non-alcoholic wines, carbonation could make up for a lot of the complexity from fermentation that is lost in the process of removing the alcohol.
You may have also noticed that one of the ways in which non-alcoholic spirits differ from their alcoholic counterparts is the mouth feel. When you shake or stir a spirit with ice, the alcohol thickens and becomes silky as it chills. Non-alcoholic spirits don’t undergo the same change, and they can feel thin. You can mix them with a simple syrup to get that silky mouth feel, or add a bubbly mixer. When in doubt, just add bubbles.
Drinkmate OmniFizz allows you to add bubbles to any cool beverage without dilution. Rather than adding carbonated water to a concentrated drink, this rig allows you to add bubbles without reducing the concentration. This is very useful in making cocktails with ingredients that don’t stand up to a lot of dilution, like teas. I like to make double-strength teas for cocktails, but it’s very easy to over-dilute the recipe. Not anymore!
Drinkmate OmniFizz is available on Amazon.ca for $139.99