The Rise of Non-Alcoholic Beverages (Plus The Ultimate List to Try This Summer!)
A look at the increasing popularity of non-alcoholic beverages. Plus, 28 options you need to try!
Before you reach the legal drinking age, the phrase “you don’t need alcohol to have fun” is often used by parents to convince their children to hold off on drinking. Of course, you probably didn’t believe them. After all, in most movies, it seemed like alcohol was the driving factor of fun.
Though you may have scoffed as a rebellious teenager, we regret to inform you, like with most things, your mom was right.
The movement towards being more conscientious about drinking has steadily been growing over the past few years. In fact, the non-alcoholic beverage market is estimated to grow to $1732.7 billion USD by 2028—a massive jump from the $923.06 million USD it was reported to be in 2020.
So, what gives? What is causing this massive boom? And why are people rethinking drinking?
An alcohol-free lifestyle
A person’s decision whether to drink or not drink is extremely personal, however, the recent boom in the non-alcoholic beverage category suggests that many people are feeling the same way—and wanting more options.
Sarah Kate, Founder of Some Good Clean Fun, is an advocate for normalizing and celebrating an alcohol-free lifestyle and rethinking the way society views drinking. Before embracing an alcohol-free lifestyle, she admits it was easy to slip into the “wine mommy” culture of hurriedly tucking her kids into bed, so she could get to enjoy her coveted glass of wine.
“I realized, in the last couple of years, I was constantly reaching out every day for a glass of wine,” she said. “Then it turned into two and then it turned into three and I started feeling like I was starting to get into some dangerous habits.”
When she began to realize she was sneaking glasses of wine in more often than not, Sarah Kate tried to phase out alcohol on her own. However, she found that the harder she tried to stop drinking, the harder it became to make a reality.
It wasn’t until someone recommended The Naked Mind by Annie Grace, that she was able to detach herself from her relationship with alcohol.
“It blew my mind and it opened up this idea of what alcohol actually is and what it does to you and why it’s so difficult to quit,” she said “It was a very scientific-based book, but the most important thing for me was it opened my eyes to the reality [of alcohol]. I didn’t know it was a depressant. I didn’t know that it increases anxiety and stress.”
Now, Sarah Kate said she has so much clarity in her everyday life and has experienced other benefits, like more energy and glowing skin.
“I’m 44 and I feel like I’ve aged backwards. I feel like I’m in my thirties again!”
Having been on her journey of living an alcohol-free lifestyle since April 2020, Sarah Kate wants to share the joy she has re-found in life with the rest of the world through creating a non-alcoholic community with Some Good Clean Fun. And she credits the booming non-alcoholic drink industry for helping make it possible.
She lists Sexy AF Spirits, and Sobrii, as some of her favourite non-alcoholic options and likes to keep her house filled with “stock options” in case she ever feels like she’s craving a drink. Though, Sarah Kate believes that we never actually crave a drink, rather, we’ve been conditioned to believe we want one.
“My big theory is that we have implanted alcohol into our relationships and we’ve forgotten how to have relationships without alcohol,” she said. “But when you’re having a games night with your friends, it’s not the booze that’s making it fun. It’s the company and the activity you’re doing that’s the fun.”
And she seems to not be alone in this journey for re-thinking drinking. The beginning of the pandemic saw winding lines outside of alcohol retailers. However, as a part of non-alcoholic lifestyle groups on Facebook, Sarah Kate said that numbers have doubled since the pandemic began.
“I think a lot of people are not only coming over to the alcohol-free side but are coming to this realization that it [alcohol] is not serving me. It’s not making me feel good,” she said. “There were the first six months of the pandemic where people were just drinking their faces off because there was so much fear and uncertainty and now they’re like, ‘Wow, this has become really unhealthy.’”
Non-alcoholic beverages options
As the movement towards non-alcoholic beverages continues to pick up steam, Jo-Anne Reynolds, CEO of Sexy AF Spirits, is along for the ride.
After realizing how limited your options were if you were out in public and wanted a cool, fun drink that wasn’t alcoholic, Reynolds set out to create a line of spirits that could easily be added to any top shelf.
“During work lunches, I didn’t want to drink and have to go back to work and finish a big project that I was working on. And it seemed more of a hindrance than anything else at the end of the day in my life, personally,” said Reynolds. “I thought if I’m going to start an alcohol-free brand, then I need to make sure I’m answering all the questions and making sure it all lines up with what I believe in and what I feel is right with regards to entering into this market because it is so new.”
The company began with the intention of selling to bars and restaurants, but when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down public dining, those plans were put on hold. Luckily, Sexy AF became extremely popular with those who were looking to create delicious alcohol-free drinks at home. It now has almost 20,000 Instagram dedicated followers, who look forward to seeing new ways to use the brand’s non-alcoholic alternatives in new recipes weekly.
Sexy AF Spirits can be used in a way that’s as easy as swapping a gin and tonic recipe with the brand’s ViirGiin. However, getting to that quality takes time. Reynolds said there’s a unique 10 to 60-day process that goes into each alcohol-free spirit.
“It’s not just a juice and it’s not just a mix. It’s a whole new taste profile. It’s next-level botanicals,” she said. “It’s this infusion of so many ingredients to give you this quality premium product that you mix to create your “gin” and tonic.”
As the non-alcoholic beverage movement continues to grow, more innovation is founded each day. So, if you’re looking to make the switch to a zero-alcohol lifestyle, there are more drink options for you than ever before. Here we round up some of the best beverage options to help you transition to that non-alcoholic beverage life.
After sipping on these, you’ll have to call your mom and tell her she was right, you don’t need alcohol to have fun.
Cocktail culture started out being for people who wanted liquor but didn’t like the taste of it. Now it’s also for people who love the taste of cocktails but aren’t interested in the boozy bits. For everyone out there who wants an inclusive cocktail experience for their next BBQ try out Lumette They’re a Vancouver-based company specializing in bright light and London dry non-alcoholic distilled spirits. The nature-lovers at Lumette enjoy crafting their botanical blends with flavours like juniper, grapefruit, grand fir, and lemon. Served in a decorative bottle, these faux spirits will keep your bar cart stunning and the drinks flowing.
At your next party throw together some bright light non-alcoholic gin with some tonic or ginger ale and the designated drivers will be singing your praises the whole ride home!
Sexy AF Spirits
This summer do you want to indulge in luxurious cocktails that make you feel like your baddest self, without actually being your baddest self? Then you might want to try Sexy AF Spirits’ Friski Whiski, Spiced Yum (rum), or ViirGiin (gin). All alcohol-free, their spirits are delicious, plant-based and award-winning. Handcrafted in Calgary, Alberta, Sexy AF Spirits pulls their ingredients from all over the world and macerates each botanical for 10 to 60 days before blending and infusing them into one of their six offerings.
Sexy AF Spirits are vegan, allergen-free, gluten-free, sugar-free, low-calorie, and low-carb. So treat yourself and your friends to Canada’s most guilt-free mocktail this summer. Even your toughest pal with the strictest diet can join the party!
If you’re loving the Canadian-made train we’re riding on this list, then you will love our next option. Sobrii’s 0-Gin was Canada’s first-ever non-alcoholic distilled spirit. This little piece of history is crafted with juniper berries, coriander, allspice, star anise, and homegrown Canadian ginseng, so there’s a little bit of home in every sip. Its bright flavours and deep roots make it a perfect drink to enjoy with your friend or family this Canada Day. Even if you can’t get outdoors to see the fireworks, you’ll still be surrounded by the pleasant smell of juniper, ginseng, and pine as you pass glasses of Sobrii 0-Gin gin and tonics around.
By the end of your first glass, you’ll be hooked by the bitterness and bite of the ginseng and coriander balanced out by the spicy star anise.
Solbrü goes one step beyond being non-alcoholic to being beneficial for the body. They cultivate a community of people who prioritize their health through their three nutritious brews infused with functional mushrooms and herbs. Their blends detox, energize and boost brain function rather than slowing you down the way alcohol does. Their Inspire blend uses Lion’s Mane mushrooms to encourage the production and maintenance of healthy neurons in the brain, all while tasting like juicy apples, lavender, and clove. Elevate, their floral and zesty mixture engages Cordyceps mushrooms that wake you up without the fear of crashing from sugar or caffeine. Their smokey Restore brew features reishi mushrooms that boost immunity, and release stress-relieving antioxidants. And with every purchase of a bottle of Solbrü, a portion of the profit goes to helping people recover from alcohol addiction.
Being an adult is hard. Between working and parenting it’s hard to find the time to unwind with a gin and tonic after work, especially if you’ve become the permanent designated driver of your house. That’s why Ontario company H2 Craft Spirits introduced their Spiritliss collection. They carry a ready-to-drink hibiscus gin and tonic to stock up your mini-fridge and a juniper non-alcoholic gin to fill a special place in your bar cart. Their non-alcoholic gin is an aromatic blend of juniper, rosemary, and cucumber. Mix it up with tonic water. Add rosemary or cucumber to garnish and voila! You have a quick-to-make cocktail that you can enjoy even on your busiest days.
This past year has been full of lifestyle changes. If you’re giving up alcohol or going vegan this year, it doesn’t mean you have to give up on your love for craft beer, Brewing Founder of Toronto’s Partake Brewery didn’t! After a life-changing Crohn’s diagnosis, Ted Fleming, created the non-alcoholic brewery he wanted to see. One with beers full of flavour and variety. Partake has your back with seven distinct non-alcoholic craft beers. So no matter what your brew of choice is, there’s an alternative. Partake’s low-calorie, vegan-friendly, and award-winning beer makes it easy to socialize with your buddies with a beer in hand, even if you’ve cut out alcohol. Plus—believe it or not—non-alcoholic beer can make for a great post-workout drink because it’s hydrating and anti-inflammatory.
If you’ve been searching high and low for an organic non-alcoholic beer, then strap in because Sober Carpenter has just introduced Canada’s first organic beer that’s alcohol-free! They also offer a smooth blonde ale, a hoppy India pale ale, a medium-bodied Irish red, and a Belgian white that’s bursting with orange, coriander, and wheat flavours. Two brothers with a passion for craft beer started their company brewing in their parents’ basement, and once they became fathers themselves, they altered their recipes to make healthy non-alcoholic beers for the family man. Their brewing company, though humble at first is now available in almost 1300 retailers across Canada. Get your hands on some of their bold non-alcoholic brews and check out their website to find the best food pairings.
Bière Sans Alcool
For our French-Canadians out there, Bière Sans Alcool is a premium craft beer brand from Quebec. They carry summery non-alcoholic beers, perfect for a camping trip, or a day at the beach. Their Smooth IPA smells of citrus and passionfruit and goes down easy. Their Tropical Sour is what it would taste like if Tropical Fruit Loops become a sophisticated beer. It balances tropical fruit flavours with a full cereal flavour. Their Raspberry Sour is a concentrated red beer that is both gentle and sour, not unlike Olivia Rodrigo’s summer album. And lastly, their Blonde Pilsner is light, fun, fragrant, and hard not to love in its glorious sun-yellow can. So if you’re looking for something to change it up this summer, definitely try out these non-alcoholic brews!
If beer isn’t quite your thing and the cooler section of the LCBO used to be your go-to spot, let Clever Mocktails’ site be your new go-to spot for the same yummy flavours, but without the alcohol! They carry a Gin & Tonic, a Gin & Tonic, and a Clever Mojito. To make their alcohol-free G & T they distil juniper berries, cardamom seeds, and coriander seeds for that traditional British flavour. Their Pink Gin & Tonic takes the same classic English flavour and gets it summer-ready by adding blackcurrant for fun and fruit-filled summer evenings. Their third mocktail, the Clever Mojito combines sweet and strong flavours by using sweet mint and peppermint. The combination in partnership with lime peels makes for a balanced and refreshing mojito. No matter which ones you choose, Clever mocktails are a great choice for your health and a mouthwatering addition to your cooler.
Do you wish that you could spend this summer biking around Prince Edward Island and soaking in the Nova Scotian coastline? Can’t travel? Be transported by Libra, a pale ale crafted in the Maritimes. It’s a great choice if you want your summer to be light, fresh, and hangover-free. Libra is an artisanal beer with tropical notes and a refreshing finish. Plus, if you buy a 24-pack of Libra soon, they will include a bee-feed mix of wildflowers sourced locally from Prince Edward Island. These flowers will add a splash of colour to your summer and bring all the pollinators to your yard.
Do you want the cosmopolitan feeling of sipping cocktails with your girlfriends, but not interested in the liquor? Try Fluère. They distil their luxurious botanical spirits in the same way you would distil alcoholic ones. Their ingredients give you balance with that little bit of bite that you expect from a spirit. Whether you’re looking for something dark and spicy or something delicate and fruity, Fluère has something for your bar cart. These spirits are specially crafted to be in mixed drinks, so Fluère offers two-ingredient cocktail kits with all the stuff you need to make your favourite cocktails, right at home. They offer two bright gin and tonic kits, and one Dark and Stormy kit.
If a wine-based cocktail like a rose lemon aid, a deep sangria, or a sparkling peach bellini gets your mouth watering, try St. Regis’ de-alcoholized wine. It is exactly what it sounds like. They prepare a delicious wine that’s been aged and fermented regularly, and then through a vacuum distillation process, they remove the alcohol. With less than 0.5 percent alcohol per bottle, you can keep all the rich flavours and throw out the guilt. St.Regis offers a wide range of wines so you can stock your wine rack full of chardonnays, proseccos, roses, and cabernets. Go to st.regiswines.com to check out their suggested pairings and a great list of potential mocktails you can mix this summer.
Carl Jung WInes
This one is perfect for those on a budget. Carl Jung Wines has been making and importing wine since 1908, which is 112 years. They pioneered the steam vacuum distilling process which allows the wine to hold its character better. This was your great-grandpa’s non-alcoholic wine and now it can be yours too. At just around eight bucks a bottle, there’s not a better deal out there. Carl Jung does a thorough job vacuum distilling their products which come down to 0.2 percent alcohol content a bottle. It’s available at Walmart Canada, and GroceryGateway, so it’s all-around a delicious and convenient buy.
If, like Sheryl Crow, all you wanna do is have some fun this summer, why not make it good clean fun? If a bottle of bud light has been a staple for your summer barbeques, try Budweiser Zero. The new brew they released after their Prohibition brew has 50 calories and 0g of sugar. They brew the beer regularly and remove the alcohol by heating it in a vacuum. It’s a light and malty blend that isn’t too sweet. This may not be a strong craft beer, but that’s what makes it a smooth and easy drink for a summer day.
No matter what you’re toasting to this summer: a graduation, a wedding, a baby, you can do it with class and peace of mind. HP Juniper is the first Quebec-made non-alcoholic gin that lets consumers savour the aromatic elements of gin without the alcohol. Their classic and floral gins are both great choices for any mocktails you want to whip up this summer. Their classic gin is infused with juniper berries, yuzu lemon, organic cucumber, and other botanicals. It’s perfect for a classic refreshing gin & tonic. Their floral option, infused with rose, hibiscus, and eucalyptus, paired with a non-alcoholic prosecco would make a delicious French 75, perfect for a not-so-boozy brunch.
If you’d rather opt for a foamy pint, consider Fahr, an Alberta-based brewery known for its award-winning German beer. Their alcohol-free brew aptly named ALKOHOLFREI turns Oktoberfest into Ok-Sober fest. This summer, go back to basics with a simple craft beer that adheres to German purity law, meaning that this beer is brewed with barley, hops, water, and yeast and that’s it. Pulling on 500 years of traditional techniques and recipes mixed with some modern-day science from the founder, Dr. Fahr himself. They use a particular strain of yeast that, when carefully treated, produces 0.3 percent alcohol. Thanks to their heritage and simple ‘beer-flavoured beer’ Fahr won silver at the 2020 Canadian Brewing Awards in the non-alcoholic category.
Atypique, like the name suggests, is not your typical mocktail. It’s also a community. Founded by Etienne Boulay Atypique serves bold non-alcoholic beverages while uniting people who consider themselves, well, atypical! If you subscribe to their newsletter you get updates, event invites, and a voice in the company’s decisions. Their newest addition based on consumer feedback is a red sangria available this summer only. Year-round they make Italian aperitivo, gin, and a smattering of pre-mixed mocktails like spritz, gin & tonics, and mojitos. All their mixed drinks have 40 percent less sugar than their counterparts which makes them a great choice for stocking up your cooler.
If the taste of alcohol makes your face go sour and you’d rather pass on its non-alcoholic equivalents, no worries! There are plenty of non-alcoholic drinks available that have nothing to do with alcohol, the taste of alcohol, or the feel of alcohol, they’re just plain yummy in their own right. Stuff any of these in your mini-fridge and you’ll be good to go for something delicious on the daily. These are some no-fuss options for non-alcoholic drinks like flavoured waters, juices, and sodas, perfectly suited for the whole family to enjoy.
If you’re looking for something energizing and plant-based to give your summer a caffeine boost, say hello to Bai. Each Bai Water has 10 calories, 1g of sugar, and natural sweeteners. If you’re looking to keep up that healthy home workout routine you started in lockdown, Bai Water could be your new drink of choice to keep up the momentum. Bai has people grooving into the summer months with hip-hop dancer tWitch whose go-to flavours are the explosive Brasilia Blueberry and the tropical Molokai Coconut. They also have Malawi Mango, Ipanema Pomegranate, Kula Watermelon to complete your flavoured water world tour.
Need a little kick to your water? Get Vyne! The refreshing drink has the same number of calories and sugar as your typical sparkling water (aka zero), except with a flavourful twist and hops to bring out the flavours. The hop-infused sparkling water is just what you need on a hot summer day, whether you are craving something fruity or sour, Vyne has you covered. With their selection of flavours from floral to citrusy to a more down-to-earth herbal taste, the natural ingredients composing this drink are the perfect fuel your body needs. Hops aren’t just great in beer, and Vyne proved just that by uniquely designing their beverage to make the hops pop!
Summer is a time to relax for some, but for others, busy schedules have you on a mandatory caffeine rush all day long. But wouldn’t you love to decrease your caffeine intake while increasing your focus and reducing your stress? Daydream has the perfect solution for you. The revolutionary sparkling water infused with hemp extracts and adaptogens combine to give your body the best treatment. Your pick of flavours between Cucumber Lime, Peach Ginger, and Blackberry Chai are each caffeine-free and sugar-free. Not only will this drink help you stay hydrated while you’re working away, but it will also help with your balance and clarity, reduce your stress levels, act as an anti-inflammatory, and boost your focus and your memory system. Have we convinced you to switch from Coffee to Daydream yet?!
Sparkling tree water is all you need in your ready-to-go beach pack. The refreshing and organic beverage locally sourced in Canada is plant-based and filled with nutrients. Sapsucker takes sparkling water to a whole other level by adding a flavoury twist of your choice to their beverages. Between Lime, Lemon, Orange, Grapefruit, or simply the Original unflavoured tree water, you’ve got options. On its own or as Mocktail (or Cocktail, whatever the mood is), Sapsucker’s tree water is revitalizing and hydrating. Whether you’re hiking up the Grouse Grind in Vancouver or taking the day off on Toronto Island, Sapsucker is never far wherever you are in the country.
Okanagan Apple Essence
Ready to celebrate? You don’t need to be a little boozy to have a good time! Instead, try this perfect Sparkling Fruit Juice crafted using wine-making methods while containing zero percent of alcohol. Okanagan Apple Essence comes in your choice of four flavours; Crisp Apple, Fresh Peach, Orchard Pear, Ripe Raspberry, and Wild Cherry. The unpasteurized, filtered and safely preserved drinks are what makes this brand stand out as the ultimate replacement for a celebratory drink. Founded in 1995, the brand expanded drastically from their first Crisp Apple flavour to adding their four additional flavours. The West Coast Company is currently selling their products in local markets and fruit stands across BC, along with any liquor store in Alberta. Fingers crossed this tasty beverage will soon take over the East Coast!
Philips Craft Soda
The logos on their own are enough to compel you to try these drinks. Philips Craft Soda’s are what we mean when we say sweet and spicy. The Brewing Company made noise when they came out with their line of sodas, hand-brewed just as you would with craft beer. The drinks are as unique as their names, with each corresponding to a different type of Soda; We’ve got Spitfire Ginger Ale, CaptElectro’s Intergalactic Root Beer, Speed King Craft Cola, and Dare Devil Orange Cream. If you have a sweet tooth, the Root Beer and the Craft Coola will satisfy your craving. However, if you’re looking for something a little bit more lowkey, the Ginger Ale and Orange Cream have a slightly less elevated level of sugar intake. Handcrafted locally in BC, the drinks are only available in that province for the moment.
If you’re on any social media platform, we don’t need to explain to you what Kombucha is. The sparkling beverage made by combining fermenting tea, sugar, yeast, and good bacteria has been the new hit in recent years. Locally brewed and bottled in Montreal, RISE brings Kombucha to you wherever you are in Canada. Coming to you with two new flavors to add to their selection, RISE’s new hits are Peach & Mango, and Lime & Matcha flavored Kombucha. If you’re looking to spice it up, RISE has come up with a perfect list of Mocktails recipes on their website to try out. If you’re looking to show off your bartending skills on Instagram, this is your chance.
Craving a healthy fuel but too lazy to leave your house? Greenhouse will be at your doorstep in just a couple of minutes! If you’re a Toronto resident, check out their delivery map to see if you’re in their delivery zone, and then order your favourite drink depending on your mood. The choices are never-ending; from cold-pressed juices to cleanses, kits, and many more revitalizing drinks and snack options, Greenhouse has everything you’re looking for, and it’s all plant-based! The locally made and sustainably sourced products are all crafted with organic ingredients that are Non-GMO. To top it all up, the juices are bottled up in reusable glass containers to promote sustainability.
GoodDrink Iced Tea
GoodDrink Bottled Iced Tea is an all-time classic, pair it with any of your favourite food and you’ve got the perfect summer package. Its cold-brewed tea started with four flavours and has since expanded to give you nine different refreshing tastes. Our all-time favourite? It would have to be the Peach Tea, both refreshing and sweet with just the right amount of sugar. Since the Classic Bottle Teas made their debut on the market back in 2009, GoodDrink has expanded to include five brand families; Organic Spritzer, Organic Sparkling Water, GoodWater, and their newest addition, Powza Tea, coming to you very soon wherever you are in the country.
A bottle of water is a must when you’re on the go. If you’re a sparkling water drinker, it’s not as simple as filling up your reusable water bottle straight from the tap. Cycle Water, a Canadian-based company, is solving the issue of plastic bottles one can at a time. If you’ve been wondering how you can help the planet, this is your chance; the resealable lid allows for the aluminum can to be recycled infinitely. Sustainable in every way possible, the natural spring water is sourced right from our Canadian Mountains. Add a bit of bubble and you’ve got your perfect go-to drink! Or if you prefer your water still, Cycle Water has you covered.