January is the month of many things; fresh starts, a resolve to be better, fitter and stronger, and the time when many of us seek to counter December’s end-of-year (online) parties.
For some, that means embracing the benefits of a plant-based diet with Veganuary. For others, it’s giving your liver a break and doing Dry January. For the truly courageous, it could be a combination of the two.
There are plenty of reasons why Dry Jan is a good idea, for your physical health as well as financial. Cutting back can save pounds, calories and drink units, as well as benefiting your sleep, skin, and general wellbeing. Not to mention the sweet relief of waking up without a raging hangover.
While millions attempt the 31-day challenge every year, Alcohol Change, the charity behind Dry January, predicts 6.5m of us plan to go alcohol-free this month, a jump of 3.9m from last year. Their study found at a third of respondents said they drank more in 2020 than the year before, no doubt due to the stresses and trials of the pandemic.
The trilogy no one wanted, Lockdown 3, is now underway and there’s never been a better time to give up the sauce, even if only temporarily. Overconsumption of alcohol is well known to disrupt sleeping patterns, wreck focus and is a proven downer, lowering your mood and spiking anxiety levels - the very last things any of us need as we grapple with the latest Covid directives.
Say hello to low and no
If you’re not quite ready to pack away your wine glasses, there is another way: low and no-alcohol alternatives.
Designed to maintain the fun of drinking without the creeping fear that comes afterwards, they’re perfect for anyone who wants to give up booze without feeling left out. Think Zoom get-togethers and social situations like BBQs, weddings and parties, when we’re allowed to see each other again.
Low and no-alcohol has been around for a while, and it’s the young who have a real thirst for it. In its British craft beer report last year, the Society of Independent Brewers (Siba) found more young people favour low-alcohol beer, while 23 per cent of 18 to 24 year olds abstain completely.
Meanwhile market research company Nielsen found that sales of low and no-alcohol drinks have jumped 30 per cent since last March’s first lockdown as people tried to moderate their largely home-based drinking.
There has also been a growing presence of low and no-alcohol, or ‘nolo’, on supermarket shelves and online drinks shops, creating a stir in the drinks industry. The likes of beer giants Heneiken, Budweiser and Peroni have served up zero per cent alternatives, and you can now get booze-free spirits and sparkling wine that packs in all the complex flavours with none of the bad stuff.
So, good news. No booze no longer means no fun. You needn’t sacrifice your evening drink or weekend tipple for the sake of your health - just try nolo instead.
With so many options available and new ones launching all the time, we’ve rounded up the best low and no-alcohol drinks to see you sailing through January and out the other side.
Find our favourites below
Best alcohol-free beers
BrewDog Elvis AF
To kick start 2021, BrewDog has launched a brand new alcohol free beer, a twist on its bestselling Elvis AF. The grapefruit IPA showcases all the flavours of its stronger sibling, but none of the alcohol.
This beer, along with BrewDog’s other nolo options, are available in a bundle so you can try all the options before you bulk buy your favourites. What’s more, right now the brand is offer a 25 per cent discount across its full alcohol-free range and its AF bundles.
Beer Hawk The Low and No Alcohol Mixed Case
A selection pack of 15 guilt-free beers to work your way through - surely enough to brighten anyone's day. The hamper contains a mix of bottles and cans from British and EU producers, allowing you to sample lots of varieties with one click of a mouse.
Beavertown - Lazer Crush Alcohol Free IPA 0.0 per cent
Expect easy guilt-free drinking from this alcohol-free IPA. It's made the same way as it's full strength beers, but using a new strain of yeast that creates almost no alcohol during the fermentation process. ‘Heavyweight flavour, featherweight ABV’ - you won’t be able to tell the difference.
Thornbridge x HonestBrew - Fresh Start Low Alcohol IPA 0.5 per cent
Teaming up with producer Thornbridge, HonestBrew has launched this ultra-low IPA (0.5per cent) to delight thirsty beer lovers this January. It's loaded with citrussy, fruity flavour with a crisp finish - the perfect way to end your day.
Heineken 0.0 Alcohol Free Beer
All the fruity, malty notes with none of the boozy effects. Heineken has formulated a 0.0 per cent beer that could be the twin of the original 1873 recipe. This pack comes in 330ml bottles with a cardboard carton holder for maximum recyclability.
Budweiser Prohibition Brew Alcohol Free Beer Cans
Using a prohibition-era recipe from the 1920s, Bud Pro has returned to wet the whistles of anyone thinking about cutting back their drink units. Expect the same dark honey hue, full flavour and crisp finish. 0 per cent.
Budweiser has another option for teetotalers, alongside Prohibition called simply Budweiser Zero Alcohol Free Lager. This one comes in lighter-coloured cans, 46 calories a serving.
The Italian producer has gone to great lengths to replicate the taste of its world-famous beer with a booze-free twist. Pair it with your next takeaway and try to tell the difference between this and the real thing. Best experienced ice cold.
Estrella Galicia 0.0 per cent
Sit back and sip without worry by investing in a fridge full of Estrella Galicia which now comes in a 0.0 per cent version. The light lager pairs well with everything from comfort food, to BBQ bites later in the year.
Best alcohol-free wine
Nosecco Spumante Alcohol Free
Celebrating soberdom with a glass of something fizzy may feel counterintuitive - like marking X days sugar free with a Snickers - but hear us out. Alcohol-free sparkling wine has arrived to put the sparkle back into your month without breaching any resolutions. Nosecco Spumante Alcohol Free has the look and taste of Italian bubbles, but is virtually booze free with 0.5 per cent. It’s been made with de-alcoholised white wine so it won’t give you a buzz, but it’s something to bear in mind if you want to go completely booze-free.
Brancott Estate Flight low-alcohol wine
Hailing all the way from New Zealand, Flight is made by the award-winning Brancott Estate and contains just 9 per cent alcohol. It took home a Double Gold at the San Francisco International Wine Competition last year. Fruity and refreshing.
Eisberg Sparkling White
At 31 calories per 125ml serving, this is a non-alcoholic drink that promises to be kind to your waistline as well as your liver and finances. It has all the hallmarks of a bottle of Champagne and none of the headache. With notes of peach and citrus, it's the perfect base for a 'Champagne' cocktail.
Tesco Low Alcohol Sparkling White Wine 75cl
Made from Spanish Sauvignon Blanc grapes, this is a juicy sparkling white that dances with zest, and all at less than 0.5 per cent alcohol. Pour a glass for your next fishy or white meat meal for a pairing that won't leave you with a pounding head and dry mouth the morning after.
Tesco Low Alcohol Cabernet Tempranillo 75cl
If you want to curb your alcohol levels without sacrificing a lovely glass of red at the end of the day, this bottle may just be your saviour. Made with grapes plucked from a Spanish vineyard, the producers have used a 'spinning cone' method that removes the alcohol but leaves behind all of the delicious flavour.
Best alcohol-free spirits
Amplify Zing & Zest Non Alcoholic Spirit
'Alcohol free and free of spirit' is the top line at booze-free brand Amplify, where the sole product, Zing & Zest, has just scooped the gold award in the low and no category from The Spirits Business 2021.
Serves are designed to swerve hangovers and focus instead of soaking up the moment. It's filled with a complex blend of botanicals; think citrus fruits with pops of lemongrass, ginseng and juniper. Great over ice or in a cocktail.
Cotswolds Dry Gin Essence
A new launch from The Cotswolds Distillery, Cotswolds Dry Gin Essence is made by using ten times the botanical concentration of their dry gin which results in a supercharged amount of flavour per unit of alcohol.
Cotswolds Dry Gin Essence is so rich you only need a miniscule amount, 5ml, to achieve the same full flavour G&T. It will have a tenth of the alcohol you could normally expect in a Cotswolds signature serve.
Warner’s Pink Berry and Juniper Dry 0 per cent Botanic Garden Spirits
Alcohol-free and made using natural botanicals from Warner’s Fall Farm in Northamptonshire, Warners new gins - Pink Berry and Juniper Dry - will bring a smile to anyone looking for a healthy gin alternative. Both have won awards from industry bodies, and we can attest to the superiority of the booze-free dupes. We reached for one without properly looking at the label and didn’t realise until the next day that it contained no alcohol. All the pleasure, none of the pain. Gorgeous bottle designs too.
Hayman’s Small Gin
You don’t have to give up your beloved G&T to cut back those pesky alcohol units. Look to Hayman’s where the newest addition to its gin portfolio is the small gin. Like Cotswolds, it packs more flavour and less alcohol in, so you only need a drop or two for the same refreshing taste of a G&T but with 80 per cent less alcohol and calories than a regular serve. Pair it with light tonic for a drink that only comes to 40 calories.
As one of the OG zero-alcohol players, Seedlip has a loyal following. The trailblazing spirit is made for a generation that shuns excessive drinking but that still wants to join the party. Choose from three varieties; Garden 108, Spice 94 and Grove 42.
With 0.5 per cent alcohol, ATOPIA is the newest kid on the low-alcohol block with an ABV of 0.5 per cent. Made with botanicals and fruits, it’s an ideal replacement for gin and vodka at happy hour.
Everything from the bottle designs to the taste is designed to take the moderate drinking experience to the next level.
The Driver's Tipple
Missing your evening gin? You can still enjoy a dry G&T with The Driver's Tipple which recreates the flavours of the classic drink.
It's distilled in London and is led by juniper notes followed by a host of other botanicals and fruits. Not only is it sugar and gluten free, but it's vegan too - welcome news to anyone with Veganuary as well as Dry Jan ambitions.
Best alcohol-free cocktails
Martini Non-Alcoholic Aperitivo Vibrante and Floreale Dual Set
No need to compromise on flavour with Martini's gift set. The two 75cl bottes of Martini Non-Alcoholic Aperitivo offers the same complex, refreshing flavour while allowing you to stick to your Dry Jan goals. Cheers!
Haysmith's 0 per cent Rhubarb and Ginger Spirit
Budget chain Aldi has launched its new range of ‘low and no’ drinks, bringing cheer to anyone embarking on Dry Jan this year. Offering a taste of something different, this smooth and complex alternative spirit will make you forget it’s totally alcohol free.
Clean Co. CleanGin & Tonic and CleanRum & Cola
Available exclusively at Holland & Barrett, these drinks from Made in Chelsea star Spencer Matthews put wellness side by side with fun.
Both canned drinks are 0.5 per cent ABV, putting them firmly in the nolo category. We would save these for warmer weather when you can have them for picnics and camping trips, but if you’re curious they offer a good way to try them without investing in the full size bottles.
Say goodbye to hangovers and hangxiety while keeping your cocktail glass firmly in hand. Created by some of the UK’s top mixologists, there are six booze-free mixes of Highball Cocktails to choose from, from G&Ts to Cosmos and Mojitos. You can buy them individually or get a case of 10 in to keep you stocked and well watered.
Gordon’s Gin and Tonic drink
It will come as no surprise that some of the biggest names in the drinks industry want a slice of the nolo pie, worth £40m in 2018. You can find two ultra-low ABV drinks in Gordon's line-up: Hint of Lime and Hint of Grapefruit, which spotlight juicy fruit flavours while tricking you into thinking you’re enjoying a regular G&T.