Zero-proof drinks that actually taste great for your dry January

Left confused about the world of spirit-free cocktails? Let us guide you.

Mackensy Lunsford
Nashville Tennessean

Zero-proof spirits and cocktails are having a moment, and it's not just a function of post-holiday excess. At Southern Kitchen, our inboxes are exploding with pitches for booze-free products. According to Nielsen data, the nonalcoholic market is currently over $10 billion in sales, with projected growth of 47% by 2025. That represents a lot of products, and a lot of noise, to sort through.

For consumers, the glut can make it challenging to find spirits that lend the same satisfaction as a true cocktail. Many are too sweet or don't have enough complexity to stand out.

But a growing array of nonalcoholic drink distributors is working to meet those challenges, including The Zero Proof, an Atlanta-based curator, wholesaler and online retailer of premium domestic and imported nonalcoholic wine and spirits.

More NA bevs:Serve these five cocktails for kids at your next party

Co-founders Sean Goldsmith and Trevor Wolfe created the business in 2019 as a blog for the sober curious, and have since grown it into a platform where people can learn about and buy some of the best booze-free spirits on the market.

“The adult nonalcoholic category is at a breakout moment,” Goldsmith said. “Consumer interest has never been higher, and an increasing number of major alcohol distributors, retailers and restaurants are starting to sell premium non-alc products to meet this growing demand." 

The Zero Proof makes it easier to approach the growing world of nonalcoholic drinks with product reviews and curated packages including a premium bubbly bundle of top celebratory alcohol-free sparklers.

At Southern Kitchen, we love the avant-garde spirits collection, which includes complex drinks such as the fabulous Ghia aperitif, packed with bitter and soothing herbs and botanicals. It's perfect for anyone who loves amari and related bitter liqueurs. The fermented and distilled Pathfinder Hemp & Root also carries a deep complexity that pairs perfectly in a spritz, or simply served over the rocks.

Here are some of Goldsmith and Wolfe's favorites:

  • Gnista Floral Wormwood: It’s like an amaro meets a vermouth — floral, bitter, herbaceous and spicy. You can sip it on the rocks, spritz it or use it in a Negroni.
  • GinISH: The best gin alternative out there.
  • Spiritless Kentucky 74: If you’re looking for a non-alcoholic bourbon, this is the one. Really shines in classic bourbon cocktails.
  • Wilfred’s Bittersweet Aperitif: A fantastic Aperol/Campari alternative from London. Perfect for spritzing.
  • RumISH: Back to ISH. I think RumISH is the most realistic-tasting NA spirit on the market. Make a dark and stormy or a daiquiri and you won’t know there's no booze.

Have your bar stocked and looking for some recipes? Try these on for size.

Cafe du Monde Martini

Recipe courtesy of The Zero Proof.

Espresso martinis are back. This bittersweet drink is named after the 24-hour café in New Orleans famous for serving piping beignets with its distinctively bitter chicory coffee. 



In a cocktail shaker, pour Gnista Barreled Oak, Ritual Zero Proof Rum, Creole Orgeat, Chicory Coffee bitters and instant coffee. Dry shake (without ice) for 30 seconds. Add ice and shake for an additional 30 seconds.

Strain through a hawthorn strainer into coupe glass. Give the cocktail shaker a little jiggle and swirl while straining to get every last bit of foam. Float 3-4 espresso beans on the foam to garnish. 

French 75  (Craft: The Eat Fit Guide to Zero Proof Cocktails)

French 75

Named after the French 75-millimeter field gun celebrated for its rapid-fire power, the original packs a punch. This zero-proof version maintains the original’s potency without any of the booze.

Recipe courtesy of "Craft: The Eat Fit Guide to Zero Proof Cocktails."

Makes 1 serving


  • 1 ounce zero-proof gin
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon simple syrup (1 part sugar, one part water, boiled until dissolved and cooled)
  • ice
  • 4 ounces zero-proof sparkling wine
  • lemon swath, expressed, for garnish


Combine gin, lemon juice and simple syrup in a small shaker tin filled with ice. Shake and double strain into a tall champagne flute. Top with zero-proof sparkling wine and garnish with expressed lemon swath.

Pro tip: The lemon juice really fizzes up the sparkling wine. Tilt the champagne flute as you pour the sparkling wine to keep it from overflowing.

Cherry Sparkle (Molly Kimball)

Cherry Sparkle

Recipe courtesy of "Craft: The Eat Fit Guide to Zero Proof Cocktails."

Makes 4 cups


  • 1 pint cherries, pitted (fresh or frozen and thawed)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 cups water
  • ¾ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 ounces sparkling water or zero proof sparkling wine, for serving


In a saucepan, place cherries, sugar and water on a low flame, stirring occasionally until soft (10-15 minutes). Pour mixture through a sieve and return to the saucepan. Add vinegar and return heat to medium-low; bring to a slow boil. Remove from heat, transfer to a container and let cool.

To serve, add approximately 1.5 ounces (3 tablespoons) to a coupe glass and top with sparkling water or zero-proof sparkling wine.

Pro Tip: Refrigerate any remaining shrub concentrate in a sealed glass container for up to one week.

NA Cucumber Mojito 

Owen's Craft Mixers are made with real juice and have a nonalcoholic base. They can be mixed into a cocktail or served as a nonalcoholic adult beverage, including this take on a mojito:



No need to shake. Pour directly over a half cup of ice and stir. Garnish with a shaved cucumber, lime wedge and a sprig of mint. 

Grapefruit rosemary mocktail

This sparkler is made with FRE Alcohol-Removed Sparkling Brut, but any nonalcoholic sparkling will work.


For the Rosemary Simple Syrup:

  • 1 cup water
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup grapefruit juice
  • grapefruit zest
  • fresh rosemary

For the mocktail:

  • 1 ounce rosemary simple syrup
  • 4 ounces nonalcoholic sparkling wine
  • 2 ounces grapefruit juice
  • fresh rosemary and grapefruit to garnish


Combine all the simple syrup ingredients in a pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally for 6 minutes until the sugar is dissolved. Cool the grapefruit rosemary simple syrup before using.

To serve, pour the mocktail ingredients into a glass over ice and garnish with rosemary and grapefruit.