The Best Low- and No-Alcohol Drinks From Across the Pond

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The Best Low- and No-Alcohol Drinks From Across the Pond

While the U.S. has a strong non-alcoholic drinks scene, the movement is also popular overseas with unique drinks and techniques coming from the UK, China, Japan, Denmark and beyond. So, I set out to find the most interesting and original non-alcoholic drinks from around the world. I decided to focus on three different categories: pre-mixed drinks, perfect for a picnic, barbecue or a BYOB party; sparkling, an innovative variety including tea-based drinks; and spirits, the kind that you can sip by themselves or blend with mixers to create cocktails. Here are some of the drinks making a splash on the international stage.


Pre-Mixed Drinks

Mocktails

As the official cocktails of Dry January, Mocktails had a reputation to live up to. Luckily, these alcohol-free pre-mixed drinks did not disappoint. With punny names like Mockscow Mule, Mockarita, Mockapolitan and Sansgria, you can tell they don’t take themselves too seriously. These vegan and gluten-free drinks are perfect for any occasion, but they wouldn’t be out of place at a picnic or a barbecue. The standout was definitely the Sansgria with its deep wine red color and delightfully fruity flavor. The nitro can ensures that you get a perfect cocktail every time complete with froth, just as if you’d shaken it yourself. I tried the Mockarita as suggested, in a margarita glass with a salt rim, and found the citrusy blend of lime and bitter orange to be perfectly refreshing during a hot summer day.

Available in the UK from here. Available in the US from here.


Bax Botanics

The Smooth Sea Buckthorn & Tonic flavor of Bax Botanics is unlike anything I’d tried before. The fresh, citrusy smell mixed with botanicals was a sensory explosion for my nose. The fizzy drink had a complex flavor that had the perfect summer vibe. The Zingy Lemon Verbena & Tonic was a bit more familiar with its herbal smell and bitter taste, reminiscent of a classic gin and tonic. The dryness of the flavor was welcome, as was the sparkling effervescence. Started in Yorkshire, UK, by husband-and-wife duo, Chris and Rose Bax, who have 30 years of industry experience, these cocktails are already making waves in London—they’ve been used at Gông at Shangri-La, The Shard.

Available in the UK from here. For U.S. stockists, go here.


Sea Arch

The Sea Arch pre-mixed drinks, aptly titled Sea & T, immediately transport you to the ocean. The herbal, citrus and botanical flavors of the original bring to mind a salty summer breeze. The addition of sea kelp and samphire adds a crispness that is the closest I have found to a real gin and tonic. There is a body and depth of flavor that is complex, every sip giving your taste buds more to devour. The Rose Sea & T is made with a rose and raspberry-infused tonic for a light floral flavor. It is tart, tangy and refreshing. The Sea Arch tagline is “more beautiful without,” and when you try one of their drinks, you’ll see why.

Available in the UK from here. Sea Arch is not currently available outside the UK.


Sparkling

Jing

Jing’s Jasmine Pearls Sparkling Tea is a wonder. With only four ingredients and no sugars or added flavors, you are truly experiencing the natural flavor of the jasmine tea. Jing prides itself on its “single garden tea,” meaning that all of the tea leaves are chosen from the same place: Shekou Garden in Fujian, China. The tea is then hand-rolled and transported to Guangxi province to be scented with jasmine flowers. The floral taste of the jasmine tea is enhanced by the addition of carbon dioxide to make it sparkling. Because there is no sugar, you can easily go back for more. The flavor is simply refreshing.

Available in the UK from ZeroZilchZip. U.S. delivery available from here.


Saicho Hojicha

Hojicha tea originated in Kyoto, Japan, in the 1920s as a way of utilizing leftover leaves, stems, stalks and twigs from the tea-making process. It is roasted, which distinguishes it from other Japanese teas, which are generally steamed. This sparkling cold-brewed tea has a sweet flavor with hints of roasted hazelnuts and smokiness coming through.

Available in the UK from ZeroZilchZip.


Copenhagen Sparkling Tea Company

The combination of jasmine, white and darjeeling tea in the Copenhagen Sparkling Tea Company’s BLA drink provides a sweet floral scent with a fruity flavor. Full of organic ingredients, BLA is created by soaking the tea leaves in both hot and cold water over an extensive period of time. Best enjoyed as an aperitif, the slightly sweet flavor with a hint of grape is perfect for any occasion.

Available in the UK from ZeroZilchZip. For U.S. stockists, go here.


Bolle

This recently launched low-alcohol sparkling wine (0.5% ABV) is a brewed drink made with fermented pear, apple and grape juice in addition to green tea. Bolle wine is made using Zero Gradi™ technology created by wine-loving scientist Roberto Vanin. The technology ensures that, unlike other non-alcoholic wines that are de-alcoholized, alcohol is never produced in the drink in the first place. Two flavors, Oro and Rosa, of this Birmingham-brewed drink is perfect for people who want the taste of wine without the sugar or alcohol. I found the Ora flavor to be dry and crisp with a lightness that made it go down easy.

Available in the UK from here. Can ship to the U.S. in larger quantities.


Three Spirit: Blurred Vines

Three Spirit is a bit of a legend in the UK when it comes to non-alcoholic drinks. The company is known for its innovative flavors and use of rare botanicals. They also happen to feature adaptogenic plants, which can potentially help your body respond to stress. But how do they taste? The Spark drink is a gorgeous red-orange color with a spicy smell that hints at a warm fieriness. The not-too-sweet taste feels lively and summery. The slight hint of tannins give it a deep and complex flavor. The Sharp drink also has a spicy aroma with the addition of florals. The sparkling herbal taste is enhanced by botanical extracts like nettle leaf and clary sage.

Available in the UK from Planet Organic. For U.S. stockists, go here.


Spirits

Sea Arch

Having tried the Sea Arch pre-mixed drinks, I was curious to see what the distilled spirit would taste like on its own. I had it over ice with a light tonic, as per the suggested method of serving, and was pleasantly surprised. It felt just as refreshing as the ready-made drinks. There was none of the bitterness that sometimes overpowers an alcoholic gin and tonic. The drink was the perfect balance of seaside botanical flavors and spiciness. The hint of cardamom provided a gorgeous lift to the overall taste. Inspired by the Devon coastline and made using traditional distillation techniques, this non-alcoholic spirit would be a great option for anyone looking for beachy, summer vibes without the hangover.

Available in the UK from here. Sea Arch is not currently available outside the UK.


Nine Elms

No. 18 Ruby Velven, an award-winning drink by Nine Elms, has a deep red color with a peppery scent. Coming in at 0.3% ABV, it has a rich flavor that isn’t too heavy. A slight tartness gives it depth. Ideal for sipping and savoring with good food, the combination of twenty different flowers, herbs and spices gives it a complex, earthy taste. Having tried it both at room temperature and cold, I could also imagine it as a perfect winter drink, warmed and perfect for sitting in front of a fire.

Available in the UK from ZeroZilchZip.


Sentia

The premise for this non-alcoholic spirit is truly unique. Meant to mimic GABA, a neurotransmitter that transmits the pleasant effects of alcohol to the brain, Sentia promises all the upsides of alcohol sans the hangover. The spicy spirit is warming with a host of unique herbal flavors like tulsi, gentian and aronia. It does come with a warning that this product should not be consumed by people on medication or who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Available in the UK from Planet Organic.