9 Exciting Non-Alcoholic Spirits To Enjoy This Sober October

We've taste tested a lot of zero-proof spirits, and these are our favorites.

Quality non-alcoholic spirits, like their boozy equivalents, are not cheap. They're something you buy to savor—and that's why a lackluster bottle can sting so much. If the NA beverage you bought tastes like botanical battery acid, it's hard to justify exploring the genre any further. That's why The Takeout is constantly on the lookout for the most delicious drinks to recommend in our Like a Virgin column: so that you never waste another dollar on subpar sober spirits.

Whether you're sober, sober-curious, participating in Sober October, or avoiding alcohol for whatever reason, you deserve zero-proof spirits that are nothing short of excellent. Here are nine non-alcoholic products that have seriously impressed us, and will hopefully impress you, too.

Lyre’s

If you're looking for zero-proof spirits that can easily stand in as a 1:1 replacement in classic cocktail recipes, Lyre's will be a godsend in helping you set up a swanky home bar. The Italian Orange, a non-alcoholic homage to Campari, is delightful when mixed with soda, and even better an Americano made with Lyre's excellent vermouth impostor, Apertif Rosso, which strikes a perfect balance of bitter, bright, and sweet, like a sophisticated Sour Patch Kid in a cordial glass.

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Lyre's "Aperol-esque" Italian Spritz is assertive with herbs and bitter citrus, and plays well with the Dry London Spirit, which on its own isn't the sort of violent cacophony of aromatics one expects from traditional gin, but is more than capable of helping you mix up the sort of cocktail that makes you feel like a fancy bastard, without the booze. Read our full review here.

Ghia

Like most bitter aperitifs, Ghia is a furiously flavored non-alcoholic spirit that's made for sipping; this is good, because at $33 a bottle, you'll want to make every single one of its 16.9 fluid ounces count. It's made from a blend of (deep breath) water, riesling white grape juice concentrate, gentian root extract, yuzu juice, lemon balm extract, fig concentrate, elderflower extract, acacia, orange peel extract, rosemary extract, ginger extract, and fruit and veggie juice, for color. It's an inspired combination that, when enjoyed neat or on the rocks, is aggressively bitter, but with a fruity back end that helps smooths its sharpest corners. Read our full review here.

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Three Spirit

Each of Three Spirit's non-alcoholic spirits has its own unique flavor and purpose. For day drinking and generally exciting times there is Livener, an energetic botanical spirit which, sipped on its own, is sweet and syrupy, rich with flavors of red berries and tart pomegranate, ending with a mild peppery burn at the back of the throat. Social Elixir delivers a blaring cacophony of unexpected notes you'd normally find hanging in the background a well-aged red wine, along with blissful, tranquil feeling thanks to the inclusion of calming adaptogens. Nightcap tastes like a phenomenal, singular entity, exquisitely balancing flavors we've never thought to put together before: there's dark maple syrup and hops, anise and black pepper, and all manner of mysterious notes fluttering in between. Read our full review here.

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Ritual Zero Proof

The non-alcoholic spirits from Ritual Zero Proof were designed to act as stand-ins for four common liquors—whiskey, gin, tequila, and rum—but they are not perfect clones with the exact notes of familiar spirits. Instead, Ritual's alternatives balance unique non-alcoholic flavors in a way that, when mixed into cocktails, sets off the same sensory triggers and replicates the violent burn of liquor with capsicum fruit. Sipped straight, these zero-proof spirits are nearly unpalatable, but when mixed, they work the exact sort of magic you're hoping for, creating non-alcoholic illusions without getting you drunk or annihilating you with a nasty hangover. Read our full review here.

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Monday Gin

Monday Gin is one of the only non-alcoholic spirits we've tasted that's truly good enough to be enjoyed neat or on the rocks. Though it doesn't taste exactly like gin, it is not merely palatable or passable—it's downright extraordinary. It's lovely straight out of the bottle, but even lovelier when mixed with a high-quality tonic water, no lime or garnish required. Even if you like getting creative behind your home bar, try to restrain yourself with Monday; keep things simple so that not a single flavorful note is obscured. Read our full review here.

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Optimist Botanicals

Saying Optimist Botanicals are intense would be an understatement. They contain a cacophony of flavors that is overwhelming and, quite honestly, confusing. Each of its three ambiguously named non-alcoholic spirits—Fresh, Bright, and Smokey—is infused with no fewer than ten different botanicals, some of which will not be easily identifiable to the average palate. Drinking any of these spirits straight will blow your sensory synapses like an overloaded fusebox. But—much like boozy botanicals such as gin or Chartreuse—when Optimist's offerings are paired with a simple, high-quality mixer, that sense of confusion transforms into wonder. Read our full review here.

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Amethyst

Amethyst Lemon Cucumber Serrano is a sober spirit has no alcoholic counterpart—it's entirely its own thing, and it is glorious. It hits your tongue with an intense, syrupy sweetness with a hint of lemon zest; barely one second later, those sugar notes are nearly obliterated by the burn of Serrano pepper, cutting through the cloy like a gilded saber. As it tickles and tingles, a vegetal wave of cucumber swells to a crescendo, bringing all the disparate notes together into a dramatic melody. Read our full review here.

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Damrak VirGin

From the makers of Damrak Amsterdam Gin comes Damrak Amsterdam VirGin, a non-alcoholic alternative that, much like the Dutch distiller's flagship gin, features a blend of familiar botanicals: juniper berry, ginger, angelica root, cinnamon, lavender, coriander, and star anise. Where it differs from its hard distilled sibling is in its heavy use of citrus—Valencia and Curacao oranges, plus lemon—which tips the balance of flavor away from the herbaceous and into vibrantly acidic territory. Though it might not be what its creators were going for, VirGin drinks like a sophisticated pickle juice, which we truly mean as the highest of compliments. Read our full review here.

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Spiritless Kentucky 74

Spiritless Kentucky 74 could not be more clear about the fact that it isn't bourbon, with the words "Distilled Non-Alcoholic Spirit for Bourbon Cocktails" (emphasis ours) printed right beneath its name on the front label. If you're expecting honest-to-goodness straight-sipping bourbon without the buzz, you're going to be disappointed, but if you heed the label and use Kentucky 74 in a cocktail, you'll be able to see just how wonderful it truly is. We recommend mixing three parts Spiritless Kentucky 74 to one part Pratt Standard's Old Fashioned Syrup, which accomplishes exactly what Spiritless' founders had hoped: it makes the product taste remarkably close to bourbon, with strong notes of oak interspersed with faint hints of vanilla and caramel. Read our full review here.

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