Sobrii Non-Alcoholic Distilled Spirits: Review
If you're looking for a good non-alcoholic distilled spirit, Canadian producer Sobrii is one to try.
Non-alcoholic distilled spirits are receiving a lot of attention and they can be a great option for the home bartender to expand their non-alcoholic offering.
Sobrii currently offers two non-alcoholic (NA) distilled spirits: Sobrii 0-Gin and Sobrii 0-Tequila (those are zeros, as in non-alcoholic).
Sobrii spirits are produced by following a distillation process similar to their alcoholic counterparts: they are small-batch distilled in Stratford, Ontario and infused with botanicals (such as juniper for the gin product and agave flavors for the tequila product). After distillation is completed, Sobrii spirits are de-alcoholized, leaving a flavorful and complex truly distilled NA spirit.
The result is two very unique and enticing products that will add a new dimension to your home bar.
The Sobrii Product Line-Up
Sobrii 0-Gin and 0-Tequila are zero calories, contain no sugar and no preservatives. They are also vegan and contain no grain products.
Once opened, the bottles do not require refrigeration, but they do have a shelf life of 12 weeks. So bear that in mind. Tip: I use a Sharpie to write my own best before date on the bottom of the bottle counting out 12 weeks from the day it was opened.
How Do You Use Non-Alcoholic Distilled Spirits?
A note about my tastings and tests below. I generally don’t recommend using NA distilled beverages as direct replacements for their alcoholic counterparts in traditional drinks or as a shooter, for example. This is because anyone comparing to the alcohol version will likely be let down (there is no alcohol warmth or burning sensation from NA spirits that people will expect). The end result can be perfectly drinkable and enjoyable, but it won't match the alcohol version. This risks casting a (unfair) negative light on non-alcoholic distilled spirits as falling short. In my view, non-alcoholic distilled spirits really shine by leveraging their flavor profiles in more elevated craft cocktails.
Having said all that, we will see how this all played out in my testing.
Since Sobrii encourages using their products as direct replacements for their alcoholic counterparts in cocktails (but not straight up), I gave them a head-to-head test challenge to check it out. I will also note that Sobrii provided these sample products so that I could test them for review. Here is what I found.
Sobrii 0-Gin aims to follow a traditional gin flavor profile. Ingredients include juniper berries, coriander, allspice, star anise, and ginseng (Canadian grown).
Sobrii 0-Gin is colorless in appearance. Upon first opening the bottle, Sobrii 0-Gin has a very distinct juniper scent. That is what dominates. It's stronger than the smell of a traditional London Dry Gin, but it's pleasant and it smells fresh — as in not faux scent. For me it was closer to a Dillon's Gin on the nose than a Tanqueray.
If you taste the product straight up (Sobrii does not recommend consuming it this way), you get a very heavy juniper-forward flavor on the palate, with a citrus note in the background. This is not surprising as it is following a gin flavor profile. In fact, it’s a good thing. Viscosity is very thin and it has a long finish. No, you would not make a gin martini with this, but it is important to understand the flavor profile when creating your own cocktails.
The best way to use Sobrii 0-Gin, in my opinion, is to create an original cocktail experience (that is to say not just thinking of this as something you would use solely as a gin replacement in popular gin cocktails). You may start by making a gin and tonic using Sobrii 0-Gin (as I did below), but experiment further from there. Try your own creations as you begin to get a better sense of how the taste profile blends with other ingredients.
There are a good number of cocktail recipes posted on the Sobrii website, but most of these contain ingredients that the average home simply will not have on hand and that may be difficult to find (I visited five major supermarkets and still could not source many of these products—does Fever Tree really have that many variations?). Still, the Sobrii recipes are good for inspiration and you can always adapt them with ingredients you do have on hand, or make substitutions (which is what I did for these tests).
Below are a few recipes that I tried using Sobrii 0-Gin and Sobrii 0-Tequila (along with two other taste testers) and my comments on how Sobrii measured up in each one.
Sobrii Spring G&T
This is basically a non-alcoholic version of a gin and tonic using Sobrii 0-Gin, so it’s a good starting point to test the product. I based it off of a recipe on the Sobrii website, but made a minor alteration.
Is this no-alcohol gin and tonic going to fool anyone? Probably not. Does it taste good? Yes, actually. Even though I knew what to expect from a non-alcoholic version, it was still obvious that there was no alcohol present, so you can’t compare it directly to a traditional gin and tonic. As soon as you taste it, you know something’s missing.
Still, I found myself going back for additional sips, which really tells the story. A Sobrii 0-Gin and tonic is very refreshing. The tonic and lemon work well with the Sobrii flavor profile. Sure, you could do without the thyme garnish, but hey, presentation counts.
A drink like this is what I would refer to as inspired by or reminiscent of a gin and tonic.
The bottom line is, would I serve this to guests beyond those in my taste test group? Absolutely. This a very enjoyable and refreshing non-alcoholic drink. Score one for Sobrii.
Note: If you find the juniper a bit too overwhelming in the drink recipe below, scale back the Sobrii 0-Gin to 1-1/2 ounces instead of 2 ounces to keep it in balance for you.
Sobrii Gin and Tonic Ingredients
2 oz Sobrii 0-Gin
4 oz - 6 oz Tonic Water
Sobrii Kiwi Cocktail
For the next test I chose a cocktail recipe with a little more complexity from the Sobrii website (you can find the original recipe here). I made a modification by increasing the carbonated component ratio and making it a lime flavor (lime sparkling water in my case). The rest of the ingredients were muddled and mixed (using fresh ingredients) generally along the lines as per the Sobrii website recipe.
After mixing this drink and sharing with a few eager testers, my expectations were confirmed. This cocktail had wider appeal than the 0-Gin & Tonic, as the juniper flavor was tempered by the other ingredients.
In fact, it was the hands-down favorite of one tester who does not like gin and who did not particularly like the gin and tonic drink above for that reason (nothing to do with Sobrii). This tester raved about this kiwi cocktail and proceeded to find a comfy chair to kick back and enjoy the entire glass.
The recipe below is the variation of the Sobrii Kiwi No-Jito that I mixed. It is a well-balanced drink that looks great and and really highlights the ingredients and effort that goes into making it (especially if you muddle the ingredients right in the glass in front of the guest you are serving).
Sobrii Kiwi Cocktail Ingredients
2 oz Sobrii 0-Gin
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Simple Syrup
2 Mint Sprigs
2 oz Lime Carbonated Water
Final Thoughts on Sobrii 0-Gin
All in all, I found Sobrii 0-Gin to be a good product that’s worth buying. Since the flavor is very heavy on the juniper, you’ll get the most out of a bottle if you like juniper first and foremost. But if you’re a gin drinker, then you probably already do.
I found that Sobrii 0-Gin works best in cocktails with more complex flavor profiles (such as the kiwi drink above), as they tend to balance out the juniper and make for a very pleasant non-alcoholic craft cocktail.
Sobrii 0-Tequlia uses agave flavoring (not fresh agave cores), along with jalapeno, coriander, black pepper and ginseng.
When I first opened the bottle of Sobrii 0-Tequila, the smell was not as dominant as that of the gin. It's a pleasant aroma, but it also didn't smell like tequila or agave to me.
Tasting Sobrii 0-Tequila was a different story.
Like the gin, this product is colorless and the mouth feel of the straight Sobrii 0-Tequila is watery (pretty close to alcoholic tequila products). The taste is very subtle — much more subtle on the palate than the juniper in the Sobrii 0-Gin. In the Sobrii 0-Tequila I first tasted the agave flavoring, followed by the black pepper spice on the back end, which was noticeable but not overpowering. The finish was short to medium.
Overall, Sobrii 0-Tequila is a much more subtle non-alcoholic spirit than the Sobrii 0-Gin. Again, you would not do tequila shots with this, so the real test is in how it performed in cocktails.
Sobrii 0-Tequila Orange-Lime Margarita
Since I couldn’t find any of the fancy carbonated flavors used in this cocktail recipe on the Sobrii site, I adapted the margarita recipe as follows.
Sobrii Orange-Lime Margarita Ingredients
1.5 oz Sobrii 0-Tequila
3 oz sparkling water with lime
1/4 oz lime juice (fresh squeezed)
1/4 oz lemon juice (fresh squeezed)
1/4 oz orange juice (fresh squeezed)
This cocktail didn’t really have a margarita taste profile, mainly because it’s a non-traditional margarita flavor. Still, it was perfectly drinkable and would be a good option for those who like citrus.
All taste testers had the same experience. This had nothing to do with the Sobrii 0-Tequila, which underscores the point of creating and testing to find the perfect craft cocktail (just as you would do with an alcoholic counterpart).
For me personally, the best was yet to come with the next Sobrii 0-Tequlia cocktail.
Sobrii 0-Tequila Orange Ginger
The recipe I tested next was based loosely on this version found on the Sobrii website. Once again, I could not find those exact ingredients locally, so I modified the drink to use ginger ale and orange bitters.
The result was amazing. For me, this Sobrii 0-Tequila Orange Ginger cocktail was the knockout winner among the four cocktails I created.
In fact, if I didn’t know any better I would almost think it was an alcoholic drink, based solely on taste.
I didn’t expect Sobrii beverages to be able to give that sensation, so it was an unexpected surprise. While the other three drinks were varying degrees of goodness, this one was easily my personal favorite.
Sobrii 0-Tequila Orange Ginger Ingredients
1-1/2 oz Sobrii 0-Tequila
3 oz ginger ale
1/4 oz real maple syrup
2 dashes Regans’ orange bitters
Finish the drink with an orange twist and garnish with an orange peel.
Final Thoughts on Sobrii 0-Tequila
When mixed into a cocktail, Sobrii 0-Tequila works quite well. Unlike the Sobrii 0-Gin, this one takes a back seat to the other flavors, but the hint of agave does come through in a more subtle and complementary way. So for Sobrii 0-Tequila, it works best in drinks that are less complex (fewer ingredients) than those I would use with Sobrii 0-Gin—if you want to taste the agave, that is.
I can still see this product working well in other tequila cocktails that have multiple ingredients, such as a non-alcoholic tequila sunrise.
With Sobrii, the Only Limit is Your Creativity
One of the things that I like most about these Sobrii non-alcoholic distilled spirits is that they are very versatile.
You may be buying Sobrii to add a good quality non-alcoholic option to what you serve non-drinkers, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use them in other ways. For example, both of these products could also be used as ingredients in traditional (alcoholic) cocktails (something I will be testing going forward). Want to bump up the juniper in a traditional gin and tonic? Add a quarter ounce or half ounce of Sobrii 0-Gin. It tastes fantastic. So think of these Sobrii offerings as a way to enhance any drink, similar to how you might use cocktail bitters.
I can see Sobrii opening up a world of great opportunity when it comes to mixology at home. This is also true in commercial bars as well, where creative bartenders are having fun finding new and innovative ways to make use of non-alcoholic distilled spirits to bring new tastes to their clientele.
Sobrii 0-Gin and Sobrii 0-Tequila are two very good products if you are looking for a non-alcoholic distilled spirit to try at home. They are extremely versatile and you will no doubt have fun experimenting with different way to use them to create some tasty cocktails of all kinds.
Grand One Lounge Recommended.
By Mike Belobradic
Wine, Spirits and Beer Virtuoso
Grand One Lounge