The best non-alcoholic spirits and aperitifs - alcohol-free gin, rum and more
Alcohol-free spirits and aperitifs are the perfect solution for those who want a mixed drink minus the booze. Read our reviews of the best bottles, including gin and rum alternatives.
The second wave of non-alcoholic drinks for grown-ups are here! Are you excited? The first wave was spearheaded by Seedlip, and consisted of liquid marketed and priced to mimic gin. They proved very popular especially among bars looking to sell drinks to people who previously might have just plumped for fizzy water.
If gin was the inspiration for Seedlip et al, the next wave is more like vermouth or Campari. They're sweeter, fruitier and fuller-bodied, and balanced with strong bitter flavours. These new drinks are more distinctive and interesting than their predecessors, though some aren't ideal if you're trying to cut back on sugar.
How we tested
We tried all the aperitif, spirit and vermouth-style drinks with a range of mixers including orange juice, sparkling water, tonic and ginger ale, as well as the serve recommended by the manufacturer.
Read on to discover our best buys. For more than 400 buyer's guides, visit our review section and find taste tests of non-alcoholic beer and wine, plus we have non-alcoholic drink recipe inspiration. Also visit our alcohol-free drinks hub for more reviews, guides and mocktail recipes.
The best non-alcoholic spirits and aperitifs at a glance
- Best for Campari fans: High Point Ruby Aperitif, £19.99
- Best for Aperol fans: Tuscan Tree, £14.07
Best smoky aperitif: CROSSIP Dandy Smoke, £22
- Best herbal aperitif: Three Spirit Social Elixir, £24.95
- Best for a spritz: New London Light Aegean Sky, £25
- Best for cocktails: ¾ Tonic Maison Spritz Syrup, £14.52
- Best wine alternative: Nine Elms No.18 Ruby Velven, £19
- Best non-alcoholic gin: Tanqueray 0%, £17.50
- Best non-alcoholic rum alternative: Caleño Dark & Spicy, £15
- Best low-calorie non-alcoholic rum alternative: Clean Co Clean R, £19
- Best non-alcoholic vermouth alternative: Feragaia non-alcoholic spirit, £19.95
- Best non-alcoholic tequila: Clean Co Clean T, £19
- Best low-alcohol spirit: Atopia spiced citrus, £23
- Best for a low-alcohol serving: Adnams Smidgin, £26
- Best botanical low-alcohol serving: Hayman’s Small Gin, £20.38
The best non-alcoholic spirits and aperitifs to buy 2023
Best non-alcoholic aperitifs
High Point Ruby Aperitif
Best for Campari fans
Claiming to have produced the UK's first non-alcoholic aperitif, High Point is paving the way for a new generation of premium spirits. Its vibrant 'Ruby' red aperitif is produced using a fermented tea base, which is then infused with fruit, herbs and botanicals from the surrounding Cornish countryside. This month-long process results in a rich, complex drink with a pleasing balance of sweet, sour and spice. The herbal aroma gives way to a lingering aftertaste of bittersweet blood orange, reminiscent of Campari.
Best for aperol fans
Flavoured with Italian blood oranges, lavender, lemons and juniper, this vibrant and citrusy aperitif is great for lovers of Aperol. Drink it on the rocks or topped up with tonic, then garnish with an orange slice. For a more floral alternative, try Tuscan Tree's Cloudy Elderflower aperitivo. It reminded us of an elderflower cordial with an added layer of complexity from subtle botanicals and Sicilian lemon.
CROSSIP Dandy Smoke
Best smoky aperitif
Crossip is a range of concentrated, alcohol-free spirits formulated by a unique maceration process that extracts the colours and aromas from botanical ingredients. Founded by award-winning mixologist Carl Anthony Brown, the drinks come in three distinctive flavours that can enjoyed with a mixer or in cocktails. Our personal favourite, Dandy Smoke, combines layers of spice with deep fruity notes and an intense smokiness, something like Lapsang Souchong tea mixed with a whisky cocktail. This is equally drinkable in sour cocktails as it is topped up with cola.
Three Spirit Social Elixir
Best herbal aperitif
This dark herbal liqueur is made with the help of a team of bar industry stalwarts and plant scientists. It contains active ingredients that are designed to mimic the positive effects of alcohol. We can't say we noticed any special feelings but it does have a distinctive taste that majors on malt and liquorice, and chimes well with ginger ale, adding bite and richness.
New London Light Aegean Sky
Best for a spritz
Bursting with bright citrusy notes, this refreshing aperitif from Salcombe Distilling Co is inspired by the sun-soaked shores of the Mediterranean. Layers of bitter blood orange and bergamot are softened by earthy olive and a lingering herbaceous aroma of rosemary. It works best as a spritz, mixed with a light tonic or non-alcoholic sparkling wine, then served over ice. For those with a sweeter palate, I also recommend Salcombe Distilling Co's other New London Light aperitif, Midnight Sun, which is infused with a light berry and pine scent.
¾ Tonic Maison Spritz Syrup
- Available from Master of Malt (£14.52)
Best for cocktails
From Canada, this is a bitter syrup (so it contains lots of sugar) which you use like Aperol or Campari to make a low-alcohol spritz, or a measure turns an orange juice and soda into an occasion. We can see this becoming a regular purchase, especially as it's less than half the price of some of its rivals.
Master of Malt (£14.52)
Nine Elms No. 18 Ruby Velven
Best wine alternative
This is aimed squarely at the restaurant trade for people to drink instead of wine. It's made from a mixture of fruit, herbs and spices. Neat, it's pleasant with raspberry notes and a little tannin. It's also a good mixer which we tried in in a few cocktails as well as in a simple spritzer with sparkling water and a slice of lemon.
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Best non-alcoholic spirits
Best non-alcoholic gin
Blended with the four same signature botanicals as its classic London Dry Gin, we felt that Tanqueray's 0% was the most convincing non-alcoholic gin alternative of everything we tried. Initially, the palate is hit by an invigorating burst of citrus and juniper, which gives way to more mellow notes of liquorice and herbs. Mixing with a plain tonic brings out the full flavour profile but this versatile spirit would also be suited to a range of gin cocktails.
Caleño Dark & Spicy
Best non-alcoholic rum alternative
Fans of spiced rum will love Columbian-inspired Caleño’s non-alcoholic tropical spirit. Rich and tangy aromas of pineapple and coconut are complemented by warming cardamom and ginger spice. This spirit could suit a variety of cocktails but we found it mixed especially well with fruit juices, ginger beer and cola.
Clean Co Clean R
- Available from Clean Co (£19), Amazon (£19)
Best low-calorie non-alcoholic rum alternative
Another convincing take on Caribbean-style rum, this golden-tinted spirit has a subtle spiced flavour with warming undertones of caramel and cayenne pepper. Free of sugar and sweeteners, Clean R makes a healthier alternative to a regular rum and each 50ml serving contains only 12 calories. In our opinion, it is ideally suited to mixing with cola, best enjoyed over ice with a slice of lime.
Clean Co (£19)
Feragaia non-alcoholic spirit
Best non-alcoholic vermouth alternative
Here's a botanical drink from Scotland that has just been launched. Despite its lack of sugar, it manages to carry its distinctive flavours well with no unpleasant bitterness. There's a vermouth-type quality with refreshing citrus notes and a fiery finish that is accentuated by the tonic water.
Clean Co Clean T
- Available from CleanCo (£19), Ocado (£17)
Best non-alcoholic tequila
Clean Co has also turned its hand to producing an impressive alternative to blanco tequila (or silver tequila). Although it doesn't have the signature burn of this clear spirit, it does recreate the fresh agave scent which pairs beautifully with lime juice and a pinch of salt in a margarita mocktail.
Best low-alcohol spirits
For those not cutting out alcohol altogether, there are a growing number of high-strength spirits available now which are designed to be served in very small portions with a mixer. As a result, their alcohol volume is diluted to a small fraction whilst also maintaining a decent concentration of botanicals for flavour.
Atopia spiced citrus
Best low-alcohol spirit
Because it does contain a little alcohol (0.5%), this is the odd one out – and there's a little sugar added, too. But Atopia is the best low-alcohol gin substitute we have tried. Adding it to tonic gives a distinct hit of juniper followed by floral notes, cinnamon and lemon. You could probably give this to your gin-loving friend and they would never suspect that there's almost no alcohol in here.
Best for a low-alcohol serving
Southwold distillery Adnams’ new concept is a high-strength gin intended to create a low-alcohol serve without compromising on flavour. Don’t be fooled by the 50% alcohol volume – despite being stronger than most gins, Smidgin is specially crafted to be served in small 2.5ml measures with tonic water. This yields a full-bodied G&T with just a fraction of the alcohol (0.6% ABV) but a strong flavour due to its high concentration of botanicals. The 200ml bottle even comes with a copper spoon to allow precise measurement of each serving. We found each sip delivered a complex balance of botanicals, from fresh juniper to warming cardamom and floral hibiscus, culminating in a crisp, dry finish.
Hayman’s Small Gin
Best botanical low-alcohol serving
This is another full strength gin (43% ABV) but so strongly flavoured with botanicals that you only need a thimbleful. The result when mixed with tonic is a G&T that tastes as good as the standard Hayman's gin but only 0.2 units – about a fifth of the alcohol of a standard one.
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What's your take on non-alcoholic 'spirits'? We'd love to hear your recommendations. Leave a comment below...
This review was last updated in December 2022. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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