This Furiously Flavored Spirit Must Be Sipped Slowly

Ghia takes a sober, stupendous stab at aperitivo culture.

Welcome to Like A Virgin, a column in which we recommend a different zero-ABV drink each week. They're not "near beers," they're not "mocktails"—they're delicious beverages that anyone and everyone should try at least once. Got an idea for a future Like A Virgin column? Email us at

Ghia bills itself as "a social tonic inspired by Mediterranean aperitivo culture," and at this current moment in my life, most of the words in that sentence are aspirational. Oh, what I wouldn't give to be lounging on the Mediterranean coast instead of my cat-hair-covered couch! To be accepted into aperitivo culture! To be social...with tonic! Maybe these are all things that await me in the future, but as of now, I am but a humble schmo with a a bucket of dreams and a bottle of Ghia. And you know what? It works.

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, I 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.

Ghia's bottle suggests that you mix it 1:1 with bubbly water, which, if you're not a devout member of aperitivo culture, is the right call. Lightly stirred with an ultra-effervescent mixer like Topo Chico, Ghia's finely calibrated layers of flavor pop and sizzle, forcing a pause for full appreciation. If a non-alcoholic spirit doesn't inspire you to do that, it's little more than flavored water.

I appreciate a zero-proof spirit that doesn't call for dozens of ingredients to make an outstanding non-alcoholic cocktail, because when I'm unwinding at the end of a hectic day, I am not cutting, juicing, or zesting a damn thing. Ghia's website offers more than 20 gorgeous mocktail recipes that I'm sure taste incredible, but I've only tried the Flower Power, which is Ghia mixed with elderflower tonic. (I almost always have this elderflower tonic from Q Mixers on hand, and highly recommend it!) It tastes like the epitome of luxury, without forcing me to wash more than one glass. It's exactly the sort of at-home bartending I desire: pour a few things into a glass, give it a little swish, and pretend I'm living a social, cultured life on the Mediterranean coast.