The great non-alcoholic drinks taste test: from the ‘clean and refreshing’ to a ‘bitter mess’

It’s the time of year for us to decide to cut back on the alcohol and stay dry for July.

Low- and zero-alcohol wine and beers may appear to be your preferred choices to cut back on juice. However, the Australian drinks industry has seen an increase in the price of upmarket cordials such as sodas, shrubs, and spritzes, as well as fermented beverages, all vying for attention as well as your wallet.

However, the real question is: do these beverages taste decent? How do they compare to the traditional drinks – soft drinks, cordials we all are familiar with?

In a two-and-a-half-hour Zoom session with the sommelier Samantha Payne, I charged through 95 non-alcoholic drinks during the form of a tasting side-by-side, which included sexy newcomers displaying bizarre and bizarre flavor combinations as well as “wellness tonics” with various health claims.

As you can imagine, the effect of drinking nearly 100 carbonated beverages in succession is … difficult. However, in the spirit of public service, we reduced the list down to our 10 top choices and five dishonorable mentions for this dry month and beyond. Bottoms up!

Honours list the top 10 non-alcoholic beverages.

1. TINA, All Natural Lightly Sparkling Jasmine Pearl, Raspberry (Fruit + Leaf) and Waxflower ($24 for four 330ml cans, tinadrinks.com)

In the midst of sugary sodas, carbonated drinks, and a myriad of bizarre probiotic tonics, TINA teas provide a refreshing refreshment. Based on oolong tea that is delicate and rich, this beverage is packed with raspberry verjuice, pear, and mandarin. It also has a herbaceous edge and without any artificial sweetener to be seen. We tried it chilled straight out of the can, and it was clean, refreshing, and refreshing. It was exactly what iced tea was supposed to be by 2023. The highlight of our tasting test.

2. NON 3 toasted Cinnamon along with Yuzu ($30 for 500ml bottle non. world)

There’s a reason why NON is often regarded as the standard for drinks that are non-alcoholic in the United States – the range of flavors and flavors is impossible to beat. Each of their drinks is fascinating in its unique way, but the No. 3 is among the best. With yuzu flavors as well as Cinnamon, oranges, Murray River salt, verjuice, and organic cane sugar, It’s savory, fruity, subtle, and sophisticated. Serve it just as Sam did: put it in the glass of a wine bottle and serve it with the addition of ice.

3. Naked Life, Canadian Rye Dry & Lime Non-Alcoholic Cocktail ($89.95 for 24 x 250ml cans, nakedlifespirits.com.au)

Rye and dry isn’t the kind of drink that most of us like. But credit where credit is due, they’ve hit the recipe with a non-alcoholic clone that is exactly like the OG. This is a deep, rich oak with lime and ginger ale. If you love dry rye rye, this drink will not make you hungover and thirsty.

4. Sorted Passionfruit Sparkling Drink for Prebiotics ($42 for 12 250ml bottles, drinksorted.com.au)

Probiotic and prebiotic drinks are currently the trend, promoting different claims of improving digestive health, gut health, and immune systems. The one we reviewed promises that it is “bloat-free,” but when we’re twenty drinks deep in our 90+ cavalcade of carbonated drinks, We can’t be dependable to judge this claim. However, we do recommend this flavor of passionfruit as it gave us huge Passiona sensations without the sugary taste of refined sugar.

The final taste was lively, sweet, tart, and mouthwatering, and when we tasted it, this was among the few drinks that we finished off completely.

5. Arepa the Brain Drink to Perform, Full Flavor blackcurrant ($53 for eight bottles of 300ml), drinkarepa.com.au)

Arepa is promoted in the form of “the brain drink” and promises to boost the performance of your brain, decrease anxiety, and combat brain fog.

While we didn’t feel more sharp and enlightened the next morning, we’ll definitely return for more. Sam has described it as “the birth child of Ribena and Ocean Spray cranberry juice.” There are luscious blackcurrant notes and a rich middle palate of spice notes that are dark and earthy, as well as the smoothness of the mouth. A cracking drink.

6. Absolutely No Ugly skin-pepper apple wellness Tonic ($49.99 per 12 bottles of 250ml each, roughly. nz)

The “wellness tonic” describes itself as “skincare on super-drive.” I’m not sure what this really means, but considering how much I pay for cosmetics these days, I was in awe of the advertisement (see my blog in the next couple of weeks to find out if this “tonic” worked). The flavor was the taste of the tropics as if you were eating an oblong, juicy, and ripe pineapple with a hint of coconut notes at the end. It was silky in the mouth, and it felt … somewhat healthy. As Sam said, “Looking good, never tasted so delicious.”

7. Midnight Mixers Bitter Lemon tonic ($54 for 24 x 200ml bottles, midnightmixers.com)

Don’t let the hazy yellow hue fool you. The refreshing soda is zesty, lively, and delightfully bitter. Contrary to many other drinks we’ve tried, its levels of quinine (a bitter-tasting chemical that gives tonic water its distinctive flavor) are spot on, and the dry, drier flavor balances the lemon.

This is a throwback to the days of Schweppes bitter mixer with lemon. It can stand alone in dry July. If you do decide to go back to alcohol, it will mix beautifully with a high-quality vodka or Gin.

8. Somersault Soda, Raspberry & Vanilla ( $35.50 for 12 x 330ml bottles, somersaultsoda.com.au)

Pure nostalgia. Think of it as the original raspberry soda we drank as children and re-imagined. (Better still, it’s got much less sugar, so if you serve it to your children, it won’t be a riot at gatherings like we did.)

It’s balanced, doesn’t taste “unnatural,” and the vanilla gives a delicious creaminess to the palate. The result is a tactile and rich drink that is perfect for sipping at parties and even after.

9. Comet with Lemon, Lime, and Kaffir Lime Syrup Natural ($15.40 for a bottle with 500ml capacity, drink comes. co)

Do you remember the Bickford’s lime juice cordial that your grandparents kept in the pantry at the back? The friendly has an ethereal glow.

The entire range from Comet was incredible. However, this was the most memorable. One of the first things that impressed us was its rich, velvety texture and smooth viscosity. On the palate, the drink was delectably refreshing and citrusy with the ripe flavors of lemon and lime with floral undertones. Mix it with soda and ice to make an extremely refreshing drink.

10. Strangelove, Holy Grapefruit Lo-Cal Soda ($78 for 24 bottles of 300ml, strangelove.com.au)

It’s rare to see grapefruit and holy basil, at the very least, in the world of packaged drinks. This sacred basil extract gives an amazing savory that’s spicy and herbaceous. Although the flavor is prominent right off the bat, the white grapefruit rounds the taste with a much-needed acidity, and the whole is complemented by a delicate carbonation. It is a stunning textural experience and a delightful soda. After a Dry July, Sam advises drinking this drink with a splash of Gin.

Our dishonorable mentions: our top five

1. Nocktail Non-alcoholic Mai Tai ($18.99 for four 250ml cans, danmurphys.com.au)

What should we do? This was not easy. Sam gave me a brand new word known as orgeat. It’s an emulsion made mostly of almonds. It is compared to a marzipan-like liquid. We could only taste. We were of the opinion that it required more acidity from lime to cut through the marzipan’s dominance.

2. Naked Life, Non-Alcoholic Negroni Spritz ($89.95 for 24 x 250ml cans, nakedlifespirits.com.au)

Negroni is, in my opinion, one of the best cocktails around. So I’m not able to describe how we wanted to drink this. Unfortunately, the mix of quinine and artificially-tasting Italian Apero turned out to be an unpleasant mess. While it was appealing on the nose, it was out from balance in the mouth, and the bitterness of bitter orange and quinine dominated.

3. Absolutely No Ugly Sleep The Passionfruit Wellbeing Tonic ($49.99 to buy 12 bottles of 250ml each, roughly. nz)

The passionfruit and tart cherry conflicted badly, creating a sweet and sour ambiance but not in a good manner. Hard pass, unfortunately.

4. Lo Bros, Passionfruit Feel Good Kombucha ($7.50 for the 750ml bottle, coles.com.au)

Kombucha is a “living” – i.e., not an item that can be stored on shelves. Therefore, to take it out of the fridge isn’t right. Although the notes of passionfruit were evident, they also tasted like artificial. Together with the fermented vinegary flavor typical of kombucha, this was a better beverage left in the fridge.

5. Strangelove Cloudy Pear and Cinnamon Lo-Cal soda ( $178 per 24 bottles of 300ml, strangelove.com.au)

You would not think that something as innocent as a cloudy pear could be among the top 5, but it fell short of the mark. It was akin to the fruit that had turned, and although the length of wine is thought to be a positive thing, the flavor lingering of the soda was not what you would expect. It was an eerie and bizarre journey from beginning to end.

An honorable reference …

Schweppes Solo Original Lemon

We added a few OG soft drinks to provide to serve as a reference to the test. As we tried to discover an ideal lemon squash, we were enticed back repeatedly to this energizing drink. There’s no other way to describe it. It’s lemony, zesty, sweet, and 5 percent crushed lemons that provide 100% refresh.

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