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The best bits of booze – without the alcohol

A bottle of Ceders organic distilled non-alcoholic drink

Who else is delighted with the emergence of delicious non-alcoholic beverages, and loves to serve them at any and all get-togethers? For a long time, those us who wanted to avoid booze but still have something vaguely festive were usually offered a lukewarm Club Soda. If you got a tiny piece of lemon or lime with it, you were lucky. Throwing a piece of mint in there made the host Martha Stewart! Now there are loads of tasty, healthy alternatives to booze. Which means you can enjoy them equally at a party, as a mid-morning refresher, or instead of tea on a hot summer afternoon. Or just because you feel like a treat.

Two of my new favourites are:

An organic sparking “treewater” tapped from maple trees, Sapsucker contains 46 naturally occurring minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. With its lovely gentle bubbles, this plant-based, nutrient-rich beverage is terrific on its own, or as a mix in alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks alike.

a collection of  organic, non-alcoholic drinks made from maple trees
Founded in 2015 by Nancy Chapman, Sapsucker supports Canadian maple tree farmers and consumers who want to eat and drink more sustainably.  

There are five original flavours—orange, lime, lemon, grapefruit, and natural. This spring they’ve launched a fully-organic peach flavour. Not been a huge fan of peachy stuff I’ve tried, but this a beautifully subtle flavour that I found very light, soft, and refreshing. In truth, all were delightful. Exceptionally divine with a few fresh cranberries or frozen blueberries thrown in.

Look for Sapsucker in select Whole Foods and independent retailers across Canada.

Also quite enjoyed sampling Ceder’s, a non-alcoholic distilled drink made with classic gin botanicals like juniper, and enhanced with more exotic additions like rooibos and buchu. All come from the Cederberg Mountains of the Western Cape in South Africa—where Ceder’s gets its name.

I‘m not alone. Founded in 2017, Ceder’s has already won medals from the San Francisco Wine and Spirits Competition and the International Wine and Spirit Competition Today, it’s sold in more than 15 countries.

Available in 500 ml bottles, Ceder’s comes in four flavours: Classic, Crisp, Wild, and Rose. I sampled Classic and Rose.

Classic has notes of juniper, coriander, and rooibos. I tried it with tonic water. It was good but I prefered it with soda, along with a slice of orange or mint (see below), which is what I happened to have on hand. I also tried a little straight over a lot of ice. Good, in a slightly bracing way. I’ll bet it’s a good digestif.

Ceders distilled botanical non-alcoholic drink with a frosty cold glass
SUCH prettily designed and labelled bottles.

Initially, the intense depth of the hibiscus/rose flavour/scent in Rose is a very dominant note. Balanced with juniper, though, it turns out to be an excellent mixer—working especially well, I think, with lime and soda. Then it’s subtle, thirst-quenching, and not too sweet. It’s also a magnificent pink.

I’ll also be trying some of these fresh suggestions from Ceder’s for additions, all of which would also work with one or another of the Sapsucker flavours.

  • Muddled, or as a sprig for colour, texture, fragrance, mint is a taste booster. Wash before using, please.
  • Newly-cut basil often has heady hints of anise and pepper. It packs a flavour punch in zero-sugar/alcohol Ceder’s.
  • Thyme is earthy and floral, a suitable match for robust gin flavours. Also lovely, of course, with lemon. As is rosemary, which I thought I might like with the Classic flavour.

Tarragon, anyone? Hmmm.

What’s your go-to booze-free bevvie?

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