While in the United States St. Patrick’s Day has become linked more with alcohol-consumption than the cultural feast day for Ireland’s patron saint, there are still ways for those of you wanting to engage in some level of social activity without having to actually drink.
Whether you’re pregnant, recovering from addiction, have religious restrictions, or just don’t want to drink, whatever your reasons there has always been a social element of drinking in this country that is “encouraged” for better or for worse. Thankfully, as more and more people are becoming conscious about alcoholism and the health affects regular drinking can have on body, companies are finally becoming serious about offering alcohol free alternatives to their most famous “beverages”.
Below I’m going to list a few I’ve tried and give my thoughts on how they taste, but I do want to issue a word of caution. If you ARE a recovering alcoholic, strongly consider whether this will be a potential trigger for you to eventually relapse into drinking the “real deal”. Addiction is a lifelong process, and for some of us, it’s better to not even be in that mindset of consumption. (More options for you at the end of the piece!)
Also, like, we’re still grappling with getting the COVID-19 pandemic under control, so like, don’t go out in large crowds this year, eh?
That’s right, Guinness is working on entering the non-alcoholic market! You just won’t have it in time for this year’s festivities. While they had initially launched their alcohol-free stout in the Great Britain market last fall with hopes of then furthering its release, the beverage had to be recalled in November 2020 due to a microbiological contamination that had occurred during the production process. So no stout alternative this year, but keep your fingers crossed for 2022?
ALL-FREE Suntory Sparkling Malt & Hops Beverage
If you’re a fan of how a light beer tastes, this is an alcohol-free and calorie-free alternative from the Japanese company Suntory. No, it’s not Irish beer, but this sparkling malt beverage made from hops does taste nearly damned identical to regular-offering US brands like Coors or Budweiser. Plus, no alcohol and no calories to worry about either! You can pick up a six-pack on Amazon here.
Fre Brut Non-Alcoholic Champagne Wine
If you’re a fan of champagne and have been wanting an alternative to that delicious bubbly drink that isn’t simply the Welch’s sparkling grape juice, check out Sutter Homes’ non-alcoholic Brut alternative, Fre. The taste is very similar and has that sharper tannin-y twist as well as the hallmark dryness of a Brut that the regular sparkling grape juice tends to lack. Note: US regulations require the manufacturer to list if their beverage contains ANY level of alcohol whatsoever. While the non-alcoholic wines listed in this article do contain a level of alcohol, it is no more than what you would be naturally consuming if you ate a grape (ie, the same level you’d find in the actual fruit, because the fruit itself does have minute amounts of naturally-occurring alcohol). You can pick up a bottle from Amazon here.
Fre Chardonnay Non-Alcoholic Wine
Again from Sutter Homes’ Fre lines, and I’m going to use this entry as a bit of an omnibus. Fre’s non-alcoholic list of white wines are all substitute-worthy and will swap perfectly fine in a pinch. You can find their Chardonnay here, or try their Moscato here.
St Regis Cabernet Sauvignon Non-Alcoholic
I took a slightly different turn when it came to reds and tried the St. Regis take on a non-alcoholic cabernet sauvignon option. While I’ve yet to try a non-alcoholic merlot, the St. Regis cabernet sauvignon was a perfectly fine substitute, if not slightly lacking that tannin-y aftertaste you’d come to expect. Still, it will do just fine if you’re looking for a palate cleanser when eating a steak. You can pick up a bottle here.
So that’s your beer and wine options. But what about the harder stuff? Well, I tried a few options there as well… though we still have a way to go to get a close alternative (if that’s even possible).
FLUÈRE – Floral Blend, Non-Alcoholic Distilled Spirit
The first of the gin alternatives I tried and I’ll give it credit in that it does smell very similar to gin. That said, the moment you mix this in with tonic water and a lime, the taste is incredibly weak, almost to the point of being undetectable. You can adjust this in by adding more of the mix and less of the tonic water, but I’d still prefer something not quite so flimsy in the flavor department. If you want to try it out, you can grab a bottle here.
RITUAL ZERO PROOF Gin Alternative
The second gin alternative I tried, this doesn’t quite taste the same as FLUÈRE option, but it won’t be overshadowed if you mix it in with tonic water. Does it taste like a gin and tonic? Not really? It reminded me more of a kale, carrot, and apple protein smoothy I used to drink, but with none of the added health benefits. I didn’t mind the taste of it, but I could be drinking something with the same flavor profile that’s much healthier for me. You can try it with your own recipes to see what you think, and grab a bottle here.
RITUAL ZERO PROOF Whiskey Alternative
Don’t even bother with this one. It wasn’t made to taste like straight whiskey in its own, but to give the feeling of a whiskey flavor in a mixed drink, which, would be okay. Except it tastes like instead of a Jack and Coke you’re drinking Coke with a thick, super smoke-infused iced tea. IE this isn’t it. I’m not even going to bother linking to where you can buy this because I do NOT recommend you waste your time or money with it.
Now, if you don’t even want to join in with the social drinking there are still options for you to enjoy (and surprises depending on where you live in the US.) Remember, for some of us, the best defense for sobriety is not being in those situations. We previously published an article with some suggestions for a sober St. Patrick’s day that you can find here!
Pro-Tip: Irish stew is delicious and I definitely recommend trying it if you decide to delve into a cooking alternative! Just make sure you adjust your celebrations this year to be COVID-19 safe!
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