Can Alcohol-Free Drinks Still Replicate That Weekend Buzz?

Megan Roantree tried 30 days of 0% alcohol drinks to find out.

I’m probably not the only one who has a weird relationship with alcohol right now. On one hand, it’s fun and something to look forward to on a Friday evening after a long week, and having some Saturday night drinks with my roommates has been the closest thing I got to socialising for the past while.

But then, you don’t get all the fun that comes with drinking in a bar, restaurant or nightclub. You don’t get to chat to strangers (a favourite pastime of drunk me) you don’t get the buzz of a packed pub and you don’t get to dance and burn up all that energy (well, I could dance but I’m guessing my two male roommates would maybe leave the room).

Pre 2020, I spent many Sundays dying of a hangover, but I’d shoot a text into the group chat and say “I am dead. But it was SO worth it. I had so much fun last night.” But now, those hangovers aren’t quite worth it if you didn’t move from the couch, at least for me anyway.

Alcohol is a depressant so for many people who are already feeling low or anxious about the general state of the world, it seems counterintuitive to add drink into the mix. I’ve had this conversation with a few friends over the last few months, where we ask ourselves, is drinking really worth it right now?

Like restaurants kits and takeaways, a cocktail or a glass of wine is one of the few things that make me feel like it’s the weekend again or like we’re having a bit of fun and unwinding, so cutting it out doesn’t necessarily seem like the best option, but the hangovers and blues that come with it certainly doesn’t help the meh we’ve all been feeling. So where does that leave me?

Over the last few weeks and months, I’ve seen more ads and emails for non-alcoholic drinks than ever before. ‘Zero percent’ beers and alcohol-free wines have been more popular for quite some time but in recent years and months, spirits are stepping up too, with brands like Seedlip and CleanCo. Can a gin and tonic or whiskey and ginger taste good without the alcohol, and most importantly, will it still feel like a nice, well-deserved treat on a Friday eve?

Last month, I decided to try alcohol-free and see how it goes. I got my hands on some non-alcoholic spirits from Lyre’s which has alternatives for everything from gin, vodka and Aperol, to a whiskey substitute, which I was most excited about. I got some ginger ale, some tonic and some lemons and limes and opted for a ‘whiskey’ ginger ale and lime on Friday night.

My boyfriend and I sipped them watching a movie and were both pretty excited about how nice they tasted. We had a few more throughout the night and honestly didn’t really notice that they weren’t the real deal, they just tasted nice!

The next morning I woke up and went about my day and I was a few hours in before I realised that usually, I’d be feeling a bit groggy after a night of drinks. That’s a win/win for me. On Sunday, we ordered a burger meal kit and while the sun was shining, we had food and ‘fin’ and tonics (the name we dubbed the fake gin) while sitting in the garden. It was refreshing and light and maybe a little sweeter than the usual Gordons, but I could definitely get on board with it.

We enjoyed a few more throughout the evening happy in the knowledge that there’d be no hangover on Monday morning for work. The only downside might be the price point, with most of the non-alcoholic spirits costing about €25, which is often the price of actual vodka, gin or whiskey.

Right now, it seems like the perfect option for those of us who have a meh relationship with drink but don’t want to miss out on that Friday feeling. That said, I’m not sure a night of mocktails would quite do me for a hardy night in Coppers.

Images via Twenty20

Have your say

More like this