Just because you’re doing dry January doesn’t mean you have to spend a whole month drinking decaf coffee and plain seltzer. And that’s especially true given the recent boom in non-alcoholic cocktail substitutes. These canned or bottled drinks are fizzy and complex. They venture beyond your basic sparkling waters with ingredients that range from coconut and lemongrass to ginseng and guava. Think of them as ready-made cocktails, minus the booze, that you can pull out of your fridge at any given moment. Don’t be afraid to stock up - you’ll want to drink these year-round.
Want to make your own non-alcoholic cocktails? Check out our guide to 11 Zero-Proof Spirits to Try Because You’re Doing Dry January.
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The Summer Throwback
Rockway is a relatively new company from the founder of Brooklyn-based Owney’s Rum, and all four of their flavors feature fruits and herbs like turmeric, ginger, and hibiscus. Our top pick is Endless Summer Energy, which hits you with a burst of guava and just a hint of watermelon that’s been sprinkled with salt. It does indeed taste exactly like summer, and it can hold its own against any cocktail, non-alcoholic or otherwise.
For Juicy Stoop Drinking
If pineapple is more your speed, Coastal Immunity is all about that spiky, tropical fruit. It tastes as if someone juiced a pineapple directly into your mouth while dowsing you in fresh seltzer - but it isn’t overwhelmingly sweet. To add some kick and round things out, there’s also some ginger and turmeric. On the next sunny day, take a can of this to your stoop and sip until empty.
Coconut Seltzer Done Right
In terms of creativity and complexity, Aura Bora’s seltzer is right up there next to Rockaway. Their lemongrass coconut flavor is especially fridge-worthy and, unlike other coconut-flavored beverages, it emphatically does not taste like sunscreen. The coconut is subtle, and mostly what you get is a pleasant lemongrass flavor that seems to coat every single taste bud in your mouth. Plus, it’s sugar-free.
The Flavorful Standout
This one gets points for being the most distinctive of the bunch. There’s no other cocktail-alternative we tried that even comes close to tasting like this and that’s almost entirely due to the deep, crisp peppermint flavor. Factor in a hint of watermelon, and you have an exceedingly refreshing drink that’s perfect for when you’re bored of everything else in your fridge.
The No-Effort Cocktail In A Can
In addition to making some of our favorite zero-proof spirits, Kin also has a great fizzy, non-alcoholic cocktail in a can. It’s equal parts sweet and bitter with some strong citrus flavors and 100% of your daily vitamin B6 (in case you need more of that). If you’ve ever had an Aperol Spritz, this is similar except it’s non-alcoholic and slightly more complex. Have a few on hand for your next socially distant gathering.
A Mixer To Drink Straight
All of Avec’s fruit-flavored seltzers work well with or without booze. If you have alcohol on hand, you can use Avec as a mixer (there are instructions on the can), or you can just drink your seltzer neat. Either way, we highly recommend the Yuzu & Lime flavor. For a sugarless seltzer, it’s impressively full-bodied, with a big assist from the fresh, juicy yuzu.
If You’re Feeling Celebratory
If you’re looking for a zero-proof Champagne substitute, go with Töst. Sure, it doesn’t really taste anything like Champagne but it has the right color, a fun and festive bottle, and the drink itself is highly chuggable. Flavored with white tea, ginger, and sweetened with agave, this is a crowd-pleasing adult soda for when you need something celebratory.
The Virgin Daiquiri
Looking for an oddly specific soda flavor? Check out United Sodas Of America. Their lightly sweetened soda varieties range from Lemon Verbena and Young Mango to White Grape and Blackberry Jam, and they even have one that roughly tastes like a Strawberry Basil Daiquiri. Unsurprisingly, it’s called Strawberry Basil. You’ll want to fill a cooler with these hot pink cans and bring it to the beach, whenever leaving your house is a thing again.
For When You’re Craving Amaro
These barely-sweetened sodas will remind you of a mildly sunny day in some Italian town where there are plenty of amari on hand. All of Casamara Club’s soft drinks are amaro-inspired, and their Onda variety is particularly enjoyable and nuanced. It’s extremely light, with some understated notes of lemon and sage, and it has just the slightest bitter kick.
The Zero-Proof Drink That Packs A Punch
Of all the zero-proof drinks on this list, Curious No. 5 has, by far, the most concentrated flavor. Just a sip of this stuff feels like eating a handful of chocolate-covered cherries that were left in a smoker for several days. So if you want something packed with flavor that you can sip on for the duration of an entire episode of whatever is you’re watching these days, this drink flavored with cherry, orange, and cacao is ideal.
Something To Relax With
Billed as a “sparkling herbal tonic,” this little bottle is reminiscent of a fizzy iced tea packed with fresh mint. It’s crisp and refreshing with a hint of hibiscus, and it’s lightly sweetened with a touch of maple syrup. Pour it over ice in a highball, and garnish with a lemon wheel and a bouquet of mint.
A Beer-Adjacent Sparkling Wonder
While this beverage is from a beer company, it isn’t non-alcoholic beer. This is a hop-flavored sparkling water, and if you thought that’s something you never needed in your life, it’s time to reconsider. Hoppy Refresher is fruity, floral, and overall delicious. For something with no calories or alcohol, it’s also surprisingly full-bodied, and you should grab a bunch for your next dinner party.