Sober curious? Pregnant? Medication complications? Dry January or Dry-ish whenever? Just not that into a buzz or want to lower your alcohol intake?
There are so many reasons to reduce overall alcohol consumption, and recently an array of distilled spirit brands have brought low-abv spirits or alcohol-free spirits to the marketplace to fill the need when you want the real thing, but in the form of non-alcoholic drinks or low-alcohol spirits.
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The Rise of Non-Alcoholic Spirits
As the resurgence of gin has taken hold in recent years, with small batch distillers using botanical ingredients, coriander seed, citrus peel, different herbs, blood orange, and even black pepper to add to the complexity of their juniper berries, real gin drinkers, who had a passion for the flavors that full-strength spirits from their favorite gin distillers brought to their glass, started to look for the best non-alcoholic gin to go with their alcohol-free negronis, low calorie G&T and other favorite alcohol-free cocktails.
And this growing trend is only getting bigger. Natural botanicals have long been a staple in the craft cocktail scene, but the amount of alcohol in the different drinks can turn off anyone looking to indulge their tastebuds, but not a sobriety test.
Low alcoholic gins are here to stay (we hope), but finding one that works with your favorite gin cocktail recipes can be tough.
Over the last decade, I’ve been trying all kinds of options, from alcohol-free beers to low-alcohol gin and gin alternatives, most of which led me to say “it’s ok, buuuutttt…..” There was always something missing – that bite, complexity, and interest often wasn’t there!
Our Favorite Low Alcohol Gin
Enter Sommarøy Spirits, a new lower-proof spirit named for a Norwegian island where the summer sun never sets – no darkness due to blackouts, got it? Using a small-batch classic distillation process, this Chicago-based distillery created a wonderfully aromatic 55-proof (27.5% ABV) gin that’s also zero-carb, lower-calorie and gluten-free!
As soon as I saw the beautiful label, I wanted to try it – elegant, shimmery, modern yet spare, the bottle had me at hello. The lower-alcohol spirit was definitely a perk – after all, the best cure for a hangover is not having one to begin with, right?
While the gin itself is complex, exceedingly smooth and sip-worthy on its own, I wanted to experiment with savory cocktails featuring vegetal flavors to energize that feeling of healthy indulgence – veggies in your cocktail makes it a salad, right?
As I experimented with this versatile spirit in a variety of cocktails, I realized the floral notes were so delightful and inspirational, thanks to a variety of botanicals, I couldn’t resist bringing in some flowers and unusual mixers – some of which turned out to be a bit more sweet than savory regardless of the celery and salts!
Low Alcohol Gin Recipes
Olive brine packs a powerful punch of flavor, but you have to be aware of how the gin pairs with the salty briny goodness – over floral gins can confuse the flavors. Sommarøy Gin has a wonderful balance that works beautifully with the robust umami of olive brine. I used Castelvetrano olive brine – it has a mild flavor that reminds me of sunshine and joy.
I skipped the vermouth on this riff of a classic, and added an herbed shallot rim.
- 1.5 oz Sommarøy Gin
- 1.5 oz olive brine from Castelvetrano olives
- Lake Shore Drive Shallot and Herb Seasoning
Rim a martini glass with the Shallot Herb seasoning
Fill the shaker with ice. Add the gin and brine– shake shake shake, the way 007 prefers. Strain it into the glass. Admire the lovely color before downing this o-too-easy martini. You might go back for another – and that’s ok, the lower alcohol content (low abv gin) welcomes it!
Let the Beet Drop
Beets fight inflammation. They can help keep blood pressure in check. They might be good for your digestion. And pickled beets are full of probiotics and nutrients. Sounds like medicine to me! I mean, you’d be remise not to try this just for the health reasons alone.
The surprise here is the pickled beet brine. Straddling the line between sweet and savory, gorgeous ruby red color, and packed with healthy qualities, pickled beets and pickled beet juice are the stars in this shooter.
- 1 part less alcohol gin (like Sommaroy Gin)
- 1 part pickled beet brine
- Pickled beet and celery garnish
In a shaker with some ice, combine the gin and beet brine; swirl to combine, This one doesn’t need so much shaking. Strain it into a shot glass, garnish and bottoms up!
This can also be assembled as a layered shot, with the gin first and brine on top
The floral undertone of Sommarøy Gin really punches up the herbaceous, vegetal flavor of Apologue celery root liquor, creating a lovely fruit undertone that combines into an almost peach like flavor. Shaken until it’s slushy cold, topped with sparkling water and a strawberry slice, this is an intriguing yet endlessly refreshing porch slammer you can enjoy any time!
- 1.5 oz Sommaroy Gin
- 1.5 oz Apologue Celery Root Herbal Liqueur
- Angostura Bitters
- Soda water
- Slivered strawberry garnish
Place 3-4 ice cubes in a delightfully fancy glass (this drink is great in a roly poly or a stemless wine glass!)
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the Gin and Liqueur and a dash of bitters. Shake exceedingly well – you want this as cold as you can get. Strain into the glass, top with soda water and a strawberry garnish.
We visited a Middle Eastern eatery in a strip mall under the flight path of O’Hare airport and discovered not only the best kebab house in town, but also a wonderful imported soda called Vimto. Combining hibiscus, berries and currants, this bright floral berry soda was a revelation unto itself. We kept tinkering with other additives, but it already brings so much to the table that we gave up on complex ingredients. Kick your feet up and enjoy this festive no fuss cocktail, which is essentially a twist on a gin and soda.
- 1.5 to 3 oz Alcohol-free Gin
- Vimto soda
Stack ice in a tall glass. Add the gin, then top with Vimto. You can add a hibiscus flower garnish, but you might forget and that would be perfectly ok as well!
While we love our full-strength gin, sometimes, especially on a school night when work needs to be done and kids need to be put to bed, alcohol-free drinks are a great alternative to the sugar-filled soft drinks and classic gin in your cabinet. When you need a break, are looking for elevated non-alcoholic beverages that still carry the key botanicals that you love, a gin-inspired spirit is the way to go.
Images by Chicago photographer, TylerMallory.com
More Cocktail Recipes
Gin Cocktail Recipes
- Canadian Empress Gin Cocktail Recipes
- French Lavender Bee’s Knees Cocktail Recipe
- Mexican Hacendado Cocktail Recipe
Vodka Cocktail Recipes
- Banff Pear Cosmopolitan And Pear Martini Recipe (more pear cocktails)
- Florida Key Lime Martini recipe
- Arizona Lavender Salty Dog Cocktail
- Lilac cocktail recipe
- Vodka fall cocktail recipes
Whiskey and Bourbon Cocktail Recipes
- Mountain Harvest Whiskey Pumpkin Cocktail Recipe
- Washington Blackberry Bramble Cocktail Recipe
Rum and Cachaca recipes
- Brazilian Caipirinha Cocktail
- Rum cocktails from around the world
- Mexican National Drink: Paloma Cocktail Recipe
Wine Cocktail Recipes
Please drink responsibly and ALWAYS have a designated driver to get you home. Alcohol-free alternatives are a great way to still socialize with friends and family, while keeping you and everyone in your car safe.
Many thanks to Sommarøy for sending us their Low Alcohol Gin to play with. As always, my opinions are my own; when they aren’t you will be the first to know. This post may contain affiliate links.