From small parties with those in our social bubbles to gatherings with loved ones via Zoom, many of us will soon find ourselves wanting to share drinks with friends to celebrate the holiday season. The world of non-alcoholic drinks has come a long way in recent years, which means those who are reducing their alcohol consumption don’t have to miss out on the festive fun or compromise on the flavour of their drinks.
Whether you prefer wine, beer, or cocktails, there’s an alcohol-free option to suit your tastes. With many of us also looking to support local businesses more than ever this holiday season, we’re including mostly made-in-Canada choices. Treat yourself, share with friends or get ready for Dry January.
Beer lover Ted Fleming launched Partake Brewing in 2017 after a diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease motivated him to give up alcohol. Finding most non-alcoholic beers lacked variety, Fleming set out to create a craft non-alcoholic beer brand that offered the same range of styles as traditional beer. Partake produces IPA, blonde, stout, red, and pale non-alcoholic beers, as well as rotating seasonal flavours. Their brews have scooped up numerous awards, including a win at the 2018 World Beer Awards as the World's Best Low Alcohol Pale Beer. In addition to being alcohol-free, Partake’s non-alcoholic drinks are low-calorie, vegan, and low-carb, making them ideal for those with diverse dietary needs. Partake is available at a number of retail locations or you can shop for their beers online.
Sparkling Tree Cidery
This family-run cidery in Caledon crafts a range of sweet and hard (alcoholic) ciders on-site using 100% Ontario apples. Their non-alcoholic sparkling ciders make a lovely substitute for champagne or sparkling wine for those who appreciate toasting the festive season with some bubbles. Lightly carbonated and refreshing, Sparkling Tree Cidery’s trio of sparkling cider options includes a classic sparkling apple cider, a sparkling pear cider made with tree-ripened Ontario pears, and a sparkling apple cranberry cider that blends marsh-grown cranberries with fresh, local apples. Pick up a bottle at their cidery or you can order online.
Hill Street makes a number of alcohol-free wine and beer under the labels Hill Street Craft Brewed Lager, Vin(Zero), and Vintense wines. Their non-alcoholic wine varieties range from chardonnay and merlot to brut, while their flavourful alcohol-free lager has taken home numerous awards at the U.S. Open Beer Championship. Their online membership club sends out a curated selection of wine each month, allowing members to sample different bottles. You can also shop online for individual bottles, or find their wines and beer at stores like Sobeys and Loblaws.
Based in Etobicoke, Teetotaler Wines’ 0.0% alcohol white and red wines are a nice option for those who want an alcohol-free alternative to a traditional glass of vino. The crisp white wine is made from Spanish Airen grapes and features notes of apple and rose. The full-bodied red is also Spanish, made from Tempranillo grapes, and has notes of oak, cherries, and vanilla. Teetotaler Wines are another great choice for those who are cutting calories in addition to alcohol, with both wines clocking in at 19 calories per 100 mL (compared with traditional red and white wines which average around 80 calories per 100 mL). The two wines are available online.
Mike Riley and Jim Squires originally started False Ox to create an alternative beverage for Riley’s wife, whose wheat allergy prevented her from drinking beer. Riley and Squires turned to shrubs, a centuries-old style of drink typically made with vinegar, sugar, and fruit. False Ox’s shrubs come in flavours like strawberry mint and celery jalapeno and offer a refreshing balance of tangy and sweet notes. They can be enjoyed in cocktails (including non-alcoholic ones) or mixed with soda water to create a deliciously tart sipper. Since the drinks feature a base of organic apple cider vinegar, which can aid in detoxifying the body, they’re also an excellent option for those seeking better-for-you drinks. Shipping is free within Canada.
Sober Carpenter, like Partake Brewing, was born out of a desire to see more variety in the non-alcoholic craft beer market. The brothers behind the brand were long-time beer drinkers who became interested in non-alcoholic drinks after starting families caused them to rethink their health and lifestyle. Brewed in Ontario, Sober Carpenter’s line-up includes a hoppy IPA, a Belgian-style white, and an Irish-style red. Find them at select retailers (mainly in Ontario and Quebec) or you can order online.
Appleflats produces a range of crabapple-based food and drink products, all made with crabapples hand-picked on founders Glen and Alex Smyth’s family farm in Wellesley, Ontario. Their low-sugar, all-natural cocktail mixers can also be used in non-alcoholic cocktails. The subtly sour Harvest Peach mixer, for example, is a lovely pair for traditional gin or vodka that goes equally well in a non-alcoholic gin cocktail made with Sobrii. Available in other flavours like Sour Apple and Juicy Pear, the mixers can also be enjoyed topped with sparkling water, over ice or straight out of the bottle. Shop online or you’ll also find them in Ontario retailers like Foodland.
Grüvi is another brand that looks to bring a craft brewing approach to non-alcoholic beers, with a line-up that spans from a sour weisse to a smooth stout. Grüvi beers are brewed through arrested fermentation, a technique that stops the brewing process before alcohol is produced. They also make a dry prosecco that’s free of gluten, sulfates and added sugars, and recently added a bubbly rosé wine to their offerings. Grüvi’s drinks contain less than 60 calories each (the citrusy sour weisse is just 26 calories per can), making them ideal for health-conscious consumers. Although the company is based in the U.S., Canadians can get their products via Well.ca and Cocktail Emporium.
Sobrii 0-Gin is the perfect non-alcoholic drink for those who love to celebrate the holidays with cocktails. Sobrii is proud to be Canada’s first distilled non-alcoholic spirit. It’s made in small batches at a Stratford craft distillery using quality natural ingredients, including Canadian Ginseng from Ontario. Featuring a 750 mL Sobrii 0-Gin and four cans of Double Dutch premium tonic, including the new cranberry tonic, the Sobrii 0-Gin G&T Winter Sampler is an excellent holiday gift for a sober curious friend.