Finding good-quality non-alcoholic adult beverages at the grocery store is nearly impossible — at least, it was until now. In college, I had resigned myself to a lifetime spent drinking La Croix or Diet Coke at parties while all my friends sipped on bottles of Bud Light or Angry Orchard. So when I moved to NYC, I didn’t even think to look for non-alcoholic alternatives to the cocktails my friends ordered at bars because I just assumed they didn’t exist. But over the last year, I’ve begun seeing more and more companies emerge whose brands revolve solely around making and selling pre-bottled, non-alcoholic drinks that are elegant and adult-friendly.
Initially, I didn’t think these beverages would be worth buying. After all, the only thing close to an elevated non-alcoholic drink I’d seen in stores up to that point was the Welch’s sparkling grape juice my family breaks out every Christmas. But eventually, my curiosity got the better of me and I splurged on a few bottles of these non-alcoholic beverages to see if the hype was worth it.
In order to make it a true taste test (and see if anyone else liked them, too), I invited a few of my friends over to sample the concoctions with me. Spoiler alert! These beverages were surprisingly fabulous. Here are our thoughts on the drinks we tasted and tested, in no particular order.
“Mockapolitan” by Mocktails Brand
We were all eager to try the Mockapolitan flavor by Mocktails. Mocktails’ bottles are on the smaller side (just 6.8 oz), and the color of the Mockapolitan flavor is a rich berry red. I gravitate towards sweeter drinks so I was expecting this to be kind of like an adult cranberry punch.
Thankfully, the first taste didn’t disappoint. The Mockapolitan has a pronounced cranberry flavor yet it’s more sweet than tart. That’s unsurprising considering that the drink has the most sugar per serving of all the drinks we sampled during this taste test. The only drawback of this mocktail is that it’s not bubbly like the other drinks on the list. Because of that, it feels like you’re drinking a juice rather than a more sophisticated beverage. We added a splash of seltzer to the Mockapolitan — which I realize isn’t how true Cosmopolitans are served — and we enjoyed it more that way. The seltzer elevated the mocktail and made it feel like we were treating ourselves.
This drink is perfect for: Serving at a cocktail party. Those who enjoy sweeter drinks will especially love this mocktail. Just pour this mocktail into a martini glass (if that’s your thing) and garnish with a lime wedge.
Price: $10 for a pack of four
“Moscow Mule” and “Cranberry Cosmo” by Mingle Mocktails
Labeled as a healthier, low-calorie alternative to most pre-made mocktails on the market, Mingle Mocktails are made with natural and organic ingredients, including real fruit juices, organic cane sugar, and botanical blends. This was the mocktail brand I was most excited to have my friends try because I’d had Mingle’s Blackberry Hibiscus Bellini a few weeks prior and loved it.
The first flavor we tried from Mingle was the Moscow Mule. The carbonation is incredibly delicate and the ginger flavor isn’t too strong. We all agreed that true lovers of spicy Moscow Mules wouldn’t love this mocktail since it doesn’t have much of a kick to it. But if spice isn’t your thing, this drink might be perfect for you, especially as a palate cleanser between courses.
We also tried the Cranberry Cosmo flavor, which was a huge hit. This mocktail also had a light flavor, but it works well with the tart cranberry juice. We could imagine enjoying this mocktail with pretty much any food thanks to its subtle, universally pleasing flavor.
These drinks are perfect for: Enjoying during the summertime. The twist-top bottles and elegant packaging make Mingle Mocktails easy to pack for summer potlucks and picnics.
“High Rhode” by Kin Euphorics
Everyone was a little hesitant to try the Kin Euphorics High Rhode because it contains adaptogens and nootropics, both of which are supposed to help you de-stress and enhance cognition. We weren’t completely sure what “enhanced cognition” would entail; we didn’t think drinking Kin would make us high, but we really didn’t know what to expect. Moreover, Kin Euphorics states on its packaging that you shouldn’t enjoy more than four servings of Kin High Rhode in 24 hours.
Because none of us knew anything about adaptogens, we did some digging with the help of our good friend, Google, to learn more about what we were about to put into our bodies. Even after an intense Google search, we were still weren’t entirely sure what adaptogens were. But, in the spirit of science, we carefully measured out one serving of Kin High Rhodes (2 oz, or a double shot), mixed it with tonic water like the package instructed, and knocked it back.
We were all relieved that Kin didn’t make us feel high or unlike ourselves. I didn’t feel the effects of the drink right away, but less than an hour after drinking it I definitely felt more relaxed, but not so much that I felt sleepy. In a word; it was lovely.
Overall, we enjoyed the upscale packaging and light flavor which allows for all kinds of fun recipes. Wellness-minded consumers interested in finding a relaxing alternative to booze will likely love this beverage.
This drink is perfect for: An intimate night with good friends and deep conversation. I’m not sure if Kin High Rhodes actually made me feel less stressed or if it was having my friends over for dinner and the taste tasting that truly relaxed me. Either way, I think this is a drink best enjoyed with good company and chill music playing in the background.
Price: $47/bottle (12 servings)
“After the first sip, everyone’s eyebrows shot straight up, and then they looked down into their glass as if to say, what is this magic?”
“Spice 94” by Seedlip
One of the more expensive options on this list, Seedlip sells the world’s first distilled non-alcoholic drinks. I picked up the Spice 94 flavor, which is marketed as containing a “complex blend of aromatic Jamaican allspice berry and cardamom distillates.” Seedlip’s website describes the flavor as being aromatic with citrusy top notes and a long, bitter finish.
As soon as I opened the bottle, we could smell the aromatic botanicals inside — woodsy and warm and incredibly herbal. Seedlip’s instructions say to mix Spice 94 with tonic water, but we mixed it with seltzer instead. I wish I had been recording my friends’ first taste with my phone because their reactions were priceless. After the first sip, everyone’s eyebrows shot straight up, and then they looked down into their glasses as if to say, what is this magic?
Seedlip is the shit. For lack of a better word, Spice 94 tastes like a proper adult beverage. It tastes like I imagine non-alcoholic gin would taste and the spiced flavor feels like a fiery hug in your mouth. I felt so swanky drinking this non-alcoholic cocktail.
This drink is perfect for: Special occasions. Unfortunately, Seedlip is way out of my budget for everyday enjoyment. But I would be more than willing to splurge on a bottle to celebrate a promotion at work or a friend’s birthday.
Price: $18 for 6.8 fl oz, $36 for 23.7 fl oz
“Curious No. 2” by Curious Elixirs
For this taste test, I got my hands on a 4-pack of Curious No. 2 by Curious Elixirs, which is marketed as the “spicy lovechild of the margarita and the dark and stormy.” As soon as we cracked open the bottle, we were hit with a punch-you-in-the-face, spicy scent. I was a little put off by the overpowering ginger and licorice smell since I’m not a huge fan of either flavor. But after much swirling of the glass and hesitation, I finally gulped it down.
I hate the phrase “flavor explosion” because it’s so overused, but that’s the only way I can think to describe this craft beverage. After the initial hit of fresh ginger, the heat from the jalapeño and chili settled in the back of my throat in a pleasant, warm-you-up from the inside kind of way.
After tasting Curious No. 2 straight from the bottle, I played mixologist and added some seltzer and a squeeze of lime juice to see how that would change the flavor. Although I really enjoyed the uber strong spiciness of my first glass, I preferred this zero-proof beverage doctored up. The seltzer diluted the flavor ever so slightly and made it a little more palatable while the lime brought out the citrus flavors of this drink beautifully.
This drink is perfect for: Fall bonfires. Although we all loved Curious No. 2 as is, we think it’d taste even better mixed with some fresh apple cider to make a spiced fall punch of sorts.
Price: $35 for a pack of four
Overall, I’m pleasantly surprised by the quality of pre-made zero-proof cocktails on the market. Going into this taste test, I was a little nervous I’d wasted my money on overpriced juice. But they definitely turned out to be distinctly adult drinks that were worth the hype (and the price, for that matter). These beverages are nothing like the sparkling grape juice I grew up drinking at holiday parties. They’re incredibly complex in flavor and their branding is, for the most part, elegant and elevated. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything with one of these drinks in hand.
I was also impressed by how inclusive these beverages are. Yes, they’re great for those of us who don’t imbibe, but most of them are also certified gluten-free, non-GMO, and use organic ingredients.
Would I repurchase the zero-proof cocktails on this list? Absolutely. And I’m now more excited than ever to see what new non-alcoholic options are released in the future.
Disclaimer: I was gifted some of these products free of charge. All opinions are my own.