By: Emma Jean, Staff Writer
One in three Canadians are abstaining from drinking over the month due to the advent of Dry January, but many are also choosing to stay sober in the long run. As a long-term teetotaler myself, I know how it can feel when everyone partakes in cocktails or cracking open cold beers while you pour yourself yet another glass of sparkling water. Thankfully, these local brands have filled the niche for non-alcoholic bar-style drinks, from cocktail mixers to beers to craft sodas. With their help, giving up alcohol doesn’t have to mean giving up your enjoyment.
If you really want to get suave with cocktails, this gin-like drink is the ticket. It’s distilled without any alcohol on Vancouver Island using raw ingredients like grapefruit, juniper, and mint, and there are dozens of recipes on the spirit’s website to shake and stir to your mixologist heart’s content. Its fresh, complex flavour is perfect with just a splash of tonic as well. This isn’t a frugal option, but neither are its alcoholic counterparts; at $36.99 a bottle, it’s an investment comparable to a mid-priced liquor store gin, but without the hangovers and all of the flavour. Lumette! is available at most BC liquor stores and online through their website.
Full disclosure: I don’t like the taste of beer. When I tried this, it tasted bitter and over-carbonated and I couldn’t finish my glass. However, my other in-house taste tester, an experienced beer drinker, loved it and was happy to finish mine off, deeming it “a great, light summertime beer.” The Surrey-made IPA goes through the complete brewing process but contains less than 0.5% alcohol through its final de-alcoholization and, at $10.99 for a four-pack, it’s fairly affordable for a local craft drink. If you like the taste of beer, you’ll likely enjoy this. Red Racer Street Legal is available at most BC liquor stores.
If you just don’t care for the taste of alcohol, you’re in for a treat with this one. This naturally-brewed soda, made in Victoria, has been my personal favourite for years. There are four different and thoroughly enjoyable flavours, including the best, sharpest ginger ale on the market, Spitfire. If the excellent staple flavours like Orange Cream and Root Beer aren’t adventurous enough for you on their own, they also make excellent mixers. If you feel like spicing it up, why not take their Speed King Cola and add a splash of grenadine to make a Roy Rogers? Phillips Craft Sodas are available at many Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island grocery stores.
While this is the only product on this list I haven’t been able to sample myself, a crisp, sweet glass of cider is a treat with or without alcohol, and this drink made from Okanagan-grown fruit seems no exception. It’s received rave reviews for its bright, full–fruit flavours and its reasonable price point of $5.57 a bottle makes it a cider bargain. Picture a clear day, a bright spot in the park, and a popped bottle of sparkling Fresh Peach enjoyed with someone in your bubble; perfect for when Dry January mercifully turns to Dry Spring. Okanagan Apple Essence is available in Nesters Market, Buy-Low Foods, and through their website.