Things to Consider in Non-Alcoholic Spirits

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Whether you're going alcohol-free, want to serve non-alcoholic drinks, or are interested in this burgeoning category of products, there are some things to keep in mind.

Many non-alcoholic spirits aim to mimic alcoholic beverages, such as gin, tequila, or whiskey. They can be compounds or distillations, a combination of extracts, and other flavor additives with water.


While the non-alcoholic spirits market is still in its early stages, it's certainly on its way to becoming a staple for those who choose to avoid alcohol. Whether that's for a permanent decision or the result of a health kick or lifestyle change, it's worth remembering that booze-free alternatives are available and can be pretty tasty.

Most brands in the space focus on distilling or separating a spirit's flavor-producing molecules from its ethanol content. The result is usually a spirit virtually indistinguishable from the original in terms of taste and aroma. A few brands also offer a "compound" option, which involves blending extracts, sweeteners, juices, and other additives with water.

This is often more affordable than distillation but can have drawbacks. A compound usually has a higher calorie count and may lack some of the mouthfeels in traditional spirits.

It's also important to remember that non-alcoholic spirits perform best when mixed with other, heavier flavors. For instance, some may need egg whites, aquafaba, carbonation, or rich-styled syrups to help add that mouthfeel that's so much a part of the experience of drinking alcohol. The good news is that many of these drinks will recommend ratios for their mocktail recipes.


If you've ever found yourself in the middle of a cocktail craving but not wanting to indulge in an old-fashioned, or perhaps you just wanted to avoid a splitting hangover in the morning, non-alcoholic spirits are here to save you. These distilled alternatives offer traditional spirits' complexity, aroma, warmth, and mouthfeel without the booze.

There are two main types of non-alcoholic spirits: compounds and distillations. Compounds are a mix of extracts, sweeteners, and juices that producers use to recreate the taste and mouthfeel of a spirit. Distillations are a more sophisticated process that involves boiling liquids to cause some of the water and alcohol to evaporate, leaving behind concentrated flavors.

When it comes to non-alcoholic spirits, expect a lot of variations in flavor. A well-made one might take six weeks to create a genuinely delicious product using maceration, distillation, and filtering.

Others are made with botanicals that offer exotic sensory experiences without drowsiness. 


The growing awareness of the benefits of healthy food and beverages is expected to drive the demand for non-alcoholic spirits. These beverages contain a small amount of alcohol and are made from plant-based ingredients like flowers, roots, berries, extracts, etc. Many of these drinks are also gluten-free, calorie-free, and vegan, making them a suitable option for people who want to limit their alcohol consumption. Additionally, the rising number of diabetics has led to an increased demand for low-sugar and sugar-free products, which is expected to boost the growth of the non-alcoholic spirits market.

While many of the same allergens in alcoholic spirits may be absent from non-alcoholic spirits, some allergies can still occur. For instance, histamine intolerance or allergies can cause headaches, congestion, and itching when drinking red wine, so people with this allergy should avoid these drinks. In addition, if you have a wheat or barley allergy or gluten sensitivity, you should avoid drinks made from these grains.

Another common allergens in alcoholic spirits are nuts, so you should check whether the drink you plan to purchase contains any. The beverage's label should clearly state all significant allergens used in its production. The list should be displayed in the same field of vision as the product name and net quantity.


With all of the buzz about low- and no-added sugar, it's essential to remember that not all non-alcoholic beverages are created equal regarding calories. Often, sweeter options, like wine grapes or flavored syrups, can contain more sugar than their alcoholic counterparts and, therefore, more calories. This could be particularly problematic for people watching their weight, as the calories from added sugar can add up quickly.

With that said, many non-alcoholic spirits are much lower in calories than their alcoholic counterparts and can be great alternatives to alcohol-free cocktails. Vodka typically has the lowest number of calories, with a 50ml serving clocking in at around 100 calories (this doesn't include mixers). Whisky, gin, and rum are slightly higher but still much lower than other options, such as beer and fruit juice.

It is also important to remember that while non-alcoholic spirits can closely mimic the taste and experience of traditional alcoholic drinks, they are not intended to be consumed neat. Most are meant to be shaken or stirred, with ice, in the company of mixers and garnishes. This allows the full spectrum of their flavors to be enjoyed and can help balance out their sweetness.

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