As we discussed earlier this year, Auckland’s non-alcoholic scene in bars and restaurants has evolved in recent years – but the evolution hasn’t stopped there. Country-wide, the availability of booze-free beer, wine and spirit alternatives to enjoy out or at home has arguably never been better.
And so many Aotearoa companies have at least one or two great no-alc options. Whether you’re raising money for cancer patients, looking to cut down on your alcohol intake, or you’re sober for good, you might find your favourite non-alcoholic substitute on this list of New Zealand makers – and possibly a new favourite, too.
Get on the (no-booze) beers
It’s easier than ever to crack a zero-regrets cold one, thanks to excellent non-alcoholic beers from many of the country’s top breweries. One of our favourites is the Tiny duo by famous Wellington company Garage Project – there’s a juicy, hoppy non-alc Hazy IPA and a tropically aromatic XPA (extra pale ale) to choose from.
The All Day non-alcoholic IPA by Auckland-based brewery Bach Brewing was judged the best non-alcoholic beer at last year’s Australian International Beer Awards – winning over big Aussie names like Heaps Normal and many international players. Slightly tropical and citrussy, it’s got all the taste of a refreshing beer at no more than 0.5 per cent alcohol. The company also does a non-alc hazy IPA and a pilsner.
Launched in May 2022, State of Play is the country’s only brewery dedicated to non-alcoholic beers. It was founded by Grant Caunter – who was formerly Heineken’s global director of craft beer. Choose from three varieties: the Sunbreaker Ale with ginger, honey and lime, the IPA and the Nectaron Unfiltered Pale Ale – all sans booze of course.
Matakana-based Sawmill Brewery is Aotearoa’s first B Corp-certified brewery and also does a couple of great zero-alcohol Bare Beers: a non-alcoholic hazy IPA (available by the can or bottle) and a pale ale.
Not a beer fan but want something similar? Look to Hawke’s Bay cider company Zeffer and its crisp, off-dry, zero per cent Crisp Apple Cider, or the sweet-tart zero per cent Passionfruit Cider. Both are made with 100 per cent real fruit in a similar way to the full-alcohol ciders, so they taste true to their origin.
Raise your spirits
There’s a lot to love about the local zero-alcohol spirits industry. Terps & Co uses fruit, herb and plant-based terpenes (scent compounds) to make its non-alcoholic bottled spirits such as Vodka-Vibe, Tequila-Style and the gold award-winning Gin-Like – all of which come in chic bottles that you’d be proud to display on a bar cart. There are also canned RTDs like the Monday Mule and Margarita Muse – and, in honour of the Napier-based company’s third Dry July operating, it’s released a limited-edition zero alcohol bourbon.
Good luck going to any party or event without spotting a Pals. The prolific low-sugar RTD range includes two tasty non-alcoholic options – Hawke’s Bay Lemon, Cucumber and Soda, and the new Red Peach, Yuzu and Soda. They’re stocked online and around the country, but head to Auckland’s Hotel Ponsonby during July and you’ll be able to try the new flavour for free with a special offer they’ve got going during the month.
Designed for the health-conscious social butterfly, Elta Ego currently makes two canned RTDs that mimic alcoholic cocktails using what it calls bioactive adaptogens: maca root, ginseng, and L-theanine (a natural amino acid that’s found in tea). Health benefits aside, you won’t feel out of place with the artfully packaged Raspberry & Yuzu G&T or the fresh, lime-laced Mojito.
It’d be remiss of us to exclude AF Drinks’s own range from this list – its trademarked Afterglow is a genius addition that gives a warming effect minus the booze. Of the canned range, the Grapefruit Margarita is a favourite, along with the Tokyo Highball with notes of citrus, oak and honey.
Not wine – but wine not?
Marlborough winery Ara Wines offers a range of conventional and organic bottles, from pinot gris to chardonnay and beyond. The “beyond” in this case also includes Ara Zero – a non-alcoholic sauvignon blanc, which has won many gold awards for its crisp, dry and complex finish, and a rosé that was released in December last year featuring strawberry, lime and guava flavours, and a citrus crispness.
With four vineyards, also in Marlborough, Giesen Winery makes several zero- and low-alcohol drops alongside its usual wines. There’s a sauvignon blanc, pinot gris, riesling, merlot and more – as well as the newest addition, an alcohol-free sparkling brut.
The official Dry July New Zealand Trust sponsor this year is Lyre’s which – while a UK company – is working with a heap of local venues to put on activations and non-alcoholic cocktails throughout the month. In Auckland, these include Ahi and Origine, Paris Butter, Bivacco and Movida.
Many other venues keep Seedlip on hand, with special winter cocktails cropping up all around town. Try Amano’s mixture of Seedlip Grove 42, kiwifruit, lemon, apple and mint, or the Raspberry Yuzu Sour at Hello Beasty – Seedlip Grove 42, raspberry, yuzu and egg white that’s shaken, strained and served straight up.
No need to miss out on cocktail hour, wherever you are – and whatever way you’re drinking.