Australia’s first non-alcoholic bar opened in Brunswick last year, with Sydney quickly following suit. Major liquor retailers are dedicating whole shelves to the growing range of no-alcohol and low-alcohol drinks. Even supermarkets here are getting in on the action by selling alcohol-free wines, beers and spirits.
The products are becoming increasingly sophisticated, driven by consumers taking more care about what they choose to drink.
What is mindful drinking?
Alcohol consumption has decreased in Australia over the past 15 years. Falling from 10.8 litres per capita per year down to 9.4 litres, the lowest in 50 years. Trends are similar globally.
People often make a clear distinction – they either drink or are sober. But mindful drinking is more than just whether we drink alcohol or not, it’s about becoming aware of our drinking habits.
This might mean pausing to consider your need to drink, or how much you will drink. Maybe replacing your midweek glass of wine or beers with a non-alcoholic alternative.
“Attitudes are changing, and we’re becoming more accepting that people may make different choices around their diet, for health or even ethical reasons,” says Laura Willoughby MBE, a co-founder of the Mindful Drinking Festival.
Ms Willoughby gave up drinking eight years ago and started mindful drinking network Club Soda in an effort to meet other like-minded teetotallers. After being inundated with requests from other members about what to sip on instead of beer or wine, she set up the festival to introduce others to some of her favourite booze-free drinks brands.
Drinks industry giants are responding to this seismic health shift with alternatives that go far beyond orange juice and sugary soft drinks.
Notably, Diageo has invested in fashionable non-alcoholic spirit Seedlip, Pernod Ricard is distributing non-alcoholic alt-gin Ceder’s and Heineken has launched 0.0 – a non-alcoholic pale ale. Major retailers and bars are listening up, and consumers should get ready to see more of these grown-up alternatives stocked in their locals.
“When I gave up eight years ago there wasn’t really anything out there, apart from Beck’s Blue,” says Ms Willoughby. “In the last five years there’s been this massive boom in alcohol-free drinks designed for adults, and, for me, that’s important, because once you give up drinking it doesn’t mean you suddenly want to switch to fizzy pop. I’m not 12 anymore – I want to go to a restaurant and have a drink that goes with food.”
If you’re stuck on what to try, we’ve rounded up some of the best non-alcoholic serves.
Jacob’s Creek Unvined Rose
Jacob’s Creek has been crafting wine since 1847, making them one of Australia’s most well-known brands. Their alcohol-free range, Unvined, is crafted with a combination of classic winemaking techniques and gentle alcohol removal.
The result is a balanced and flavoursome Australian wine made in a de-alcoholised style with less than 0.5 per cent alcohol.
Bilpin non-alcoholic cider
Created in Bilpin, in the heart of the Blue Mountains of NSW, the Bilpin Cider Co makes thirst-quenching and delicious alcohol-free cider. Flavours in the range include apple and raspberry, apple and ginger, apple and lemon and blood orange.
Bilpin Ciders are also vegan friendly, gluten-free and free from any added sugar or artificial flavours.
Gordon’s Alcohol Free 0.0
Gordon’s is a household name and a global bestseller. The new Gordon’s Alcohol-Free 0.0 has the same iconic flavour of the original gin, with a smooth texture, and a complex flavour profile featuring bold juniper notes and a subtle hint of citrus. And, with only six calories per 50ml serving, it’s significantly lighter than a traditional gin.
Naked Life mocktails
Crafted in Australia using distilled botanicals, Naked Life’s mocktails are all natural and full of flavour.
Their Spritz range includes a sugar-free Negroni that excites the tastebuds with the flavours of cherry, apple, lemon and orange with a characteristic bitterness of cinchona and bitter orange.
The sophisticated Italian Aperitivo incorporates notes of bitter orange, rhubarb root, cinchona, gentian root and orange blossom, it has a well-balanced complexity sure to conjure images of warm afternoons on the Italian coast, while the award-winning Wimbledon Spritz delivers the taste of a classic Pimms and lemonade.
How much do you drink in a typical week? Have you tried any no-alcohol or low-alcohol drinks? Let us know in the comments section below.
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