The dawn of this strange new decade saw the rise of local bars and breweries serving tipples without the booze. We find out where and why.
From plant-based diets to lab-grown meat, 2020’s food trends have been heavily influenced by those that promote health and wellness. And it is no surprise that alcohol, which has long been seen as a detriment to the body also receiving a cleaner do-over this year. Thankfully, the times when mocktails were relegated to the likes of sugary, overpriced sodas and juices are behind us. Bars and distilleries have now upped their creativity to produce alcohol free ‘spirits’ to keep up with a growing clientele who have opted to go easy on the boozing in prioritisation of their health.
Despite any ill-feelings or confusion teetotallers may have towards this new phenomenon, it is likely to only expand even further moving forward, seeing as how more producers have already followed suit – with Carlsberg’s 0.0% Alcohol Free Beer and Non, Australia’s zero-alcohol wine alternative taking up space in the industry. So whether you plan to skip on the tipples to protect your liver or your fellow drivers on the road home, here is our guide to non-alcoholic spirits and cocktails, and the watering holes that serve them! Bottoms up!
It all started when founder Ben Branson was served a cloying pink cocktail one Monday evening. Utterly disturbed, he strived to create the ideal beverage for people when they wanted to stay sober on nights out. Through his research, he came across The Art of Distillation by physician John French, a book that documented distilled medicinal remedies of the seventeenth century. Using a small copper still and herbs from his garden, Branson experimented and eventually created two sophisticated expressions that are distilled in a similar method as gin – Seedlip Garden 108 and Seedlip Spice 94, which also happen to be sugar – and calorie – free.
The former gives prominence to fresh and herbal flavours, achieved through the distillation of hay, peas, spearmint, rosemary and thyme, and it can be sampled in the Woo Woo, a mocktail by Jigger & Pony combined with blackberry vinegar, beetroot and soda to tone down the sweetness of the namesake cocktail popularised in the ‘80s. Seedlip Spice 94 is a more exotic blend of Jamaican all spice berries, cardamom and citrus peel to finish. It is featured in ATLAS Bar’s Soldier’s Song, made flavourful through the intermingling of the acidity of lemon and tomato juices with aromatic bay leaf.
While the Australian lyrebird is famed for its ability to imitate human voices, Lyre’s has crafted 13 expressions that mimic the profiles of common spirits and liquors. Composed with natural essences, extracts and distillates, these libations are finished with pepper extract to mirror the feeling of an alcoholic burn. From the White Cane Spirit intended to capture the heart of an aged white rum to the American Malt representing whisky, Lyre’s collection pretty much has all the essentials needed to recreate your favourite cocktails minus the horrors of a potential hangover the day after.
Since its debut in the local scene, Lyre’s has partnered with established watering holes around town to create non-alcoholic cocktails so that drinkers can have a completely new experience. Of which, Don Ho’s menu includes two such beverages made to resemble the Aperol spritz and amaretto sour. Innocent Spritz is made with Lyre’s Italian Spritz – a mix of rhubarb and bitter orange in the distinct hue of the original Aperol, and balanced out through the addition of grapefruit, kaffir limes and soda. Whereas, Lyre’s Amaretti is kept to a medium sweetness by the contrasting slight bitterness of almonds and candied vanilla, and the Smooth Amaretti is completed with almond milk, passionfruit and mint.
Injecting a touch of Asian into the alcohol-free drinks market is homegrown brand Melati. The idea came to founder Lorin Winata when she visited her ancestral farmland in Bali, and it dawned on her that the Asian herbs, fruits and spices she was fed as a child could be the key to novel and restorative drinks for modern consumers. Studying her options, she shortlisted 60 of the most intriguing botanicals before working with a food scientist and Ayurvedic specialist to select 26 that reacted well together chemically to be functional and tasty. Each ingredient is treated via cold-extraction for up to six weeks, then hand-blended in Singapore.
Behold the birth of Melati Classic, the brand’s star product. It has a primarily fruity taste, with floral notes and spicy undertones, provided by the botanicals used, such as goji berries, hibiscus, raw cacao, star anise and red kampot pepper. Based on the recipe, this non-alcoholic aperitif also aids in detoxifying the liver and improving digestion. Confident enough to pilot a new company with just one item on the catalogue, it almost guarantees that it would be good. Drunk over ice or mixed with equal parts tonic water, do not be afraid to down another glass, for the Melati Classic is sweetener-free, vegan and only contains 12 calories per serving! You would also be able to find it at fine dining establishments such as Odette, Restaurant Zén and Nouri.
For more information, visit melatidrinks.com.