The after-work drink – so useful in delineating the day’s industry from the relaxation of the evening, is perhaps even more important as we navigate the pandemic. While we are temporarily denied access to favourite watering-holes and meeting places, happy hour is at home, and we are making that drink ourselves (often only meters away from where we spent the day). 

Obviously, something special is required to mark the moment and give a sense of occasion – even if we are not leaving the house. An alcohol-rich cocktail has always been a popular choice, but those who avoid, or are cutting down on the hard stuff, are still invited to the party, as the non-alcoholic drinks market has opened up to reveal a well-stocked bar of delicious botanical elixirs and cordials.

The new generation of soft alternatives offers an exciting spectrum of styles and flavours; increasingly sophisticated and with their own characters rather than pale imitations of the alcoholic spirits we know.

Wilfred’s 

wilfred’s non-alcoholic orange and rosemary aperitif in glass bottle against beige background

Recalling the era when the apéritif first became popular, Wilfred’s elegant, art deco-inspired bottle will put you in a suitably cocktail- hour frame of mind. The deliciously bittersweet apéritif contained within is designed to be served simply with tonic water as a refreshing spritz-style drink.

Using only natural ingredients, the luscious, deep-red concoction gathers keynotes of bitter orange, rhubarb, herbaceous rosemary, and a hint of spicy clove, and may also be made into a warming non-alcoholic mulled wine for the cold winter months.

Ghia

ghia red non-alcoholic drink against red background and next to cocktail glass

The designer behind Ghia, Willo Perron, was inspired by traditional Mediterranean aperitivo brands to create a spirit-free alternative with all their vibrant flavour, but without the alcohol. Taking design cues from the distinctive hospitality signage of the region, the visual identity of the brand, with its nod to Italian post-modern design, feels both familiar and exotic, and evocative of bustling bars on balmy Mediterranean evenings.

Satisfying complex, Ghia features earthy botanicals, (including gentian root, which gives Campari and similar apéritifs their distinctive bitterness), and summery floral notes, plus the clean cut of citrus. It may be served with ice and soda or tonic, or as a cocktail ingredient.

Aplós

aplos non-alcoholic drink in brown bottle against beige background

Cannabidiol, or CBD, has firmly emerged as an alternative to the relaxing effect of alcohol in drinks. Aplós have created a bold and aromatic non-alcoholic spirit that offers a sophisticated new way to unwind. Each serving contains 20mg of organically-grown hemp extract, with all the calming, mood-lifting effects of the cannabinoid spectrum without the psychoactive THC.  

Aplós uses nano-emulsification technology to create smaller, water-soluble particles that allow for rapid and efficient absorption of the active ingredient. Taste though, does not play second fiddle to the hemp factor in this delicious non-alcoholic spiri – nuanced layers of flavour include notes of cardamom and rosemary, led by citrus, and it has the versatility to be served neat, on the rocks, in a spritz, or mixed in a cocktail.

Jukes Cordialities

jukes non-alcoholic drink mixers in three wine glasses against white background

Jukes Cordialiities present a set of drinks that offer the experience of drinking a fine wine, but without the alcohol. Matthew Jukes used the expertise of over 30 years in the wine trade to create a non-alcoholic drink, using only fruit, vegetables and natural flavourings, which undergo a gentle maceration with organic cider vinegar. The resulting cordials are complex and aromatic, with the satisfying mouthfeel and perfume of fine wine.

There are three Jukes cordial flavours, ranging from the bright and fruity, to more earthy, mellow, notes, and they are designed to be mixed with still, sparking, or tonic water, in proportions that accord with the individual drinker’s tastes. §