The ready-to-drink cocktail market is just about the hottest thing going these days. You can’t throw a lime wedge without hitting a new-to-the-market hard something-or-other. And that has opened a whole swath of unexplored territory for the still-burgeoning booze-free brethren of cocktails.
The interest in mocktails, or nonalcoholic cocktails, has been growing steadily, as seen in bars and restaurants offering entire booze-free sections of drink menus, and with the successful launch of Seedlip in 2014, who dubs its line of botanically motivated bottles “nonalcoholic spirits.”
For something cold and quick to crack, the latest offerings of ready-to-drink alcohol-free cocktails blur the line between soda and mixer, with unique flavor combinations, sexy bottlings, and near-mimicry of bar world darlings. These are five to imbibe right now.
Casamara Club Alta Italian Amaro Club Soda
Christa Cotton looks to her home state of Louisiana as often as possible for ingredient sourcing in El Guapo’s lovely line of bottlings, with its eye-catching apothecary aesthetic and wax-sealed tops. And the flavors are as bold as the packaging promises; infused, rich and authentic, Cotton’s bitters, cordials, and mixers taste like garden-inspired labor of love. The Salted Paloma, in particular, is outstanding—with tequila or mezcal, sure, but the addition of alcohol isn’t mandatory for the flavor. The diluted just-right saltiness and ginger-grapefruit tang are craveable on their own, especially over ice with a little sparkling water.
Los Angeles’ experiment-embracing Greenbar Distillery is never shy when it comes to the flavor profiles in its line of spirits and bitters. But although husband-and-wife duo Litty Mathew and Melkon Khosrovian’s new Bitters + Soda releases may seem simple, the pretty flavors (currently orange and lavender) and aromatics are fresh and satisfying. While both flavors are subtle and thoroughly refreshing, the lavender achieves the neat trick of offering up lovely floral aromatics without tasting like a soapy soaked sachet, and the balancing bittering agents and botanicals (sage, gentian, rooibos tea, chamomile, jasmine and hibiscus among them) add a snappy, layered and gently tannic finish.
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