There are so many great reasons to try the rapidly growing and ever-diversifying world of non-alcoholic drinks. Sober October and Dry January are great ways to harness a community initiative to make healthy choices, and these timed and themed events help to reset and focus on a healthy goal. For the sober-curious, the goal might be simply to reduce the overall intake of alcohol. Having a delicious substitute to your go-to drink helps make that happen. For others, the appeal of this market is to stock the bar and the fridge for friends and family who abstain from alcohol.
Whether it’s your own health goals or your spirit of inclusive hospitality, it’s easier than ever to enjoy and serve non-alcoholic alternatives to wine, beer, spirits and cocktails.
For me, with non-alcoholic drinks as well as for all of my cocktail creations, it comes down to excellent taste. I want to enjoy and to serve the best tasting drink I can make. In the spirit of Sober October, I was excited to try out some of the offerings from Clearsips, a Canadian family-owned online seller of all kinds of non-alcoholic drinks.
Clearsips is an online destination for all things non-alcoholic. They import, distribute, and sell national and international non-alcoholic spirits, wine, beer, cider and ready-to-drink beverages. Clearsips is owned and run by Canada’s Thompson family – a father, mother and two daughters – three of whom choose to live a sober lifestyle and one who is sober curious. They launched in June 2022, and they have an impressively wide array of offerings. As I discovered in an interview with Sarah Kate, Canada’s first alcohol-free sommelier, it can be hard to find some non-alcoholic beverages because their sales are not centralized as they are for spirits and wine. This is what makes online ordering so useful.
I chose to sample spirits and ready-to-serve options. Spirits help me to swap out the alcohol in a cocktail recipe I’ve crafted, and the ready-to-serve drinks are a fabulously easy way to stock the fridge with tasty options.
Not only are Monday spirits non-alcoholic, they are also sugar-free, calorie-free, and carb-free. Created in California, this line is new to Canada, and it includes gin, whiskey and mezcal. What I like about having a non-alcoholic bottles on the bar is that I can swap them out for the alcoholic versions and use the same recipe for both. You do have to be careful, however, to make sure the character of the cocktail stays the same. Just as with their alcoholic counterparts, the flavours in these spirits are strong. Make sure the flavour profile matches the cocktail you are making.
Monday Zero-Alcohol Gin
This is a London dry style of gin, slightly sweet and very citrusy on the nose. On the palate, the bitterness of the lemon peel comes through, giving this drink a pleasant but gentle bite. I tried it in a gin and tonic and in a simple cocktail with freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, soda and bitters, and both were excellent. Gin is my favourite spirit, and I’m always looking for interesting and excellent alternatives. This is one of the best I’ve tried.
Monday Zero-Alcohol Whiskey
I am not a whiskey drinker, and I say that my favourite way to enjoy scotch is to sit next to my husband when he has a dram so that I can enjoy its smoky aroma. I love the peat, I don’t enjoy the medicinal qualities of neat scotch. Cocktails are the way to go with whiskey for me.
Monday’s whiskey is delicious to this non-whiskey drinker! It is beautifully aromatic, with butterscotch, dried fruit and caramel on the nose. It has an immediate bite when you take the first sip, but it is spicy without being medicinal. There is a slightly smoky coffee note on the palate, and a delicious spicy cinnamon bite with a rich mouth feel. I enjoyed this (a lot!) straight over a large ice cube. It also makes an excellent Old Fashioned. Highly recommended.
Monday Zero-Alcohol Mezcal
This is the spiciest of the offerings from Monday, and it has a really powerful, peppery bite. Smoke comes through on the nose and on the palatte, and there is an immediate bite. The smokiness gives a lot of character to the drink, and I enjoyed it in a lime margarita. Make sure that if you plan to make a cocktail with this that it will work with its smoky character.
Ready to Serve Cocktails
RTS cocktails are such a great way to streamline your hosting and serving duties, not to mention the ease of portability. Whether you keep them in your bar fridge or take them to a party, nothing could be simpler.
HP Juniper is a brand out of Quebec, and it includes both a floral gin and a London dry style gin. They also offer both in a RTS canned gin and tonic, which is a great way to keep a cocktail in stock in the fridge. I enjoyed both of these, but I did notice that it took a while for them to settle. They are very effervescent! Having tried them in a g&t, I am curious to sample the gins neat and play with them with my own cocktail recipes.
Finally, I tried several of Edna’s RTS classic cocktails, and they all delivered on taste and convenience. Edna’s is a brand out of Vancouver, and all of the cocktails are sparkling. There is a Paloma, Mule, Collins and Mojito, and all of them got the thumbs up.
Special Offer for Sober October
Clearsips has some special offers for Sober October, including a starter kit and discounts on some of their brands, so head on over and check out the savings!
For more about sober living, check out my interview with Sarah Kate, Canada’s first alcohol-free sommelier.