Food & Drink

The Best Non-Alcoholic Drinks In New Zealand To Sip In 2023

By Avril Treasure

People hold AF Drinks cocktails in their hands.

From Friday night after-work drinks to a Sunday BBQ with your mates and beers, it’s no secret that drinking alcohol at social occasions is as ingrained in our culture as fish and chips and the All Blacks.

And while alcohol can be enjoyable in moderation, there are downsides to drinking too much, including health complications, social problems and mental well-being issues.

Thankfully, research has shown that young people today are drinking less alcohol than future generations. There are myriad reasons why—from saving money to improved sleep and concentration and having a better sense of self.

Non-alcoholic drinks don’t need to be boring, however. In fact, they can be fun, delicious, and look and taste like the real thing (to save you from answering the same damn questions).

So whether you're wishing to cut down your alcohol intake temporarily for Dry July, you're sober curious or are looking to go completely teetotal, here are our favourite non-alcoholic tipples for all the times you’re after a refreshing and tasty beverage, sans le hangover.

Seedlip

Price: From $57

Someone heads out with Seedlip and Fever Tree tonic stashed in his bag.As the world’s first distilled non-alcoholic spirit, Seedlip has been a pioneer in the sober curious movement and aims to change the way we drink with the highest quality non-alcoholic options. The brand is stocked all across the globe and has a massive following—and for good reason. The spirits take six weeks to craft using ingredients sourced from nature—herbs, spices, peels and barks. The process then involves bespoke maceration, copper pot distillation, blending and filtration. There are three options to choose from—Garden 108 which is a floral blend with peas, hay and herb distillates; Spice 94 which is aromatic with warm notes of allspice, berries and cardamom, and Grove 42 which features orange, lemongrass and ginger notes. There is no sugar in the drinks and they are free from artificial sweeteners. The creators of Seedlip recommend that the spirits be mixed, either with tonic, soda, ginger ale or as the base of a cocktail.

AF Drinks

Price: From $29

Someone reaches for an AF Drinks G&T from a cooler.Inspired by the sober curious movement and launched in late October 2020 by Eat My Lunch founder Lisa King, AF Drinks (alcohol-free drinks) not only look chic, but they also taste like the real deal. The brand is on a mission to help people explore a new relationship with alcohol and to normalise not drinking. When Lisa stopped drinking at the beginning of 2020 she felt that there were few good alternatives to alcoholic drinks—either they were really expensive or didn’t taste great. She also got over the constant questions and being made to feel socially awkward about a decision that she felt was positive. “That’s where the idea for AF came from,” she says. “It’s not just a product, but a world where it’s OK to make your own decisions and to do that with confidence.” Try the AF classic gin and tonic with juniper, quinine, lemon and a botanical extract that mimics the warmth of drinking alcohol. Not sure where to start? Stop by NZ's first alcohol-free bottle shop and try before you buy. We’ll cheers to that.

Edenvale

Price: $12.99

Edenvale alchohol removed wineCoined as Australia’s leading alcohol-removed wine, Edenvale has a whole range of drops for you to choose and all your favourites are there—rosé, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and sparkling rosé and sparkling Cuvee. The wine is the perfect option when you’re celebrating and everyone’s drinking bubbles, or when orange juice just won’t cut it (tbh it never does). We love the Shiraz—silky smooth and with berry fruit flavours it goes pretty bloody well when paired with a cheeseboard. It’s important to note that some of the wines still have small traces of alcohol, so be sure to check the label before serving it to others. Edenvale wines also have half the calories of standard wine and are rich in antioxidants and vitamins C and E—even more reason to go alcohol-free.

Lyre’s

Price: From $49

Lyre's non-alcoholic beveragesAll of Lyre’s beautifully crafted non-alcoholic spirits look, taste and smell like the classics, so you can recreate your favourite cocktails at home and no one will be able to tell the difference. Try their American Malt, which has been designed to capture the essence of bourbon; the Dry London Spirit that tastes exactly like gin or the White Cane Spirit that your guests will swear is white rum. They've just released a Highland Malt that takes the place of whiskey. You can also get your hands on their best-selling ready-to-drink mixes in a can that feature a gin and tonic with orange blossom, juniper and pepper berry, a sparkling wine with peach and granny smith apple notes and a refreshing spritz with bittersweet orange, that’ll make you dream like you’re somewhere along the Amalfi Coast. And if you’re searching for a thoughtful present for a friend (or yourself) who has stopped drinking alcohol, Lyre’s also sell booze-free cocktail sets, which include the bottles that you’ll need to recreate an espresso martini or Negroni at home.

Finery 0%

Price: From $28

A hand reaches out to grab a Finery 0% cocktail in a can.Finery, who's known for its flavourful cocktails, encourages us to go dry with their Finery 0% cocktails. Not only do these zero-alcohol cocktails taste as good as the real thing, but they also contain no sugar, sweeteners, carbohydrates, gluten or preservatives, and have vegan-friendly options. No alcohol certainly doesn't mean no fun. Exciting flavours like Grapefruit cucumber & mint, and Vanilla & Elderflower are sure to make you feel good—find the full range here

Pals Zero Alcohol

Price: $15.99 for 6

Pals 0% sits on a reflective surface looking quenching.Round up your pals and give non-alc, vegan, and gluten-friendly Pals Zero Alcohol a try. In their commitment to a ‘better for you’ RTD space, Pals, like many others, has also forayed into the non-alcoholic RTD space and has just unleashed a zero-alcohol version of Red Peach & Yuzu, AKA The Red One. Pals is committed to being inclusive, and an instigator of good times, and with this new addition, their aim is to create a zero-alcohol drink that tastes incredible at an affordable price point. That’s what we like to hear. Oh, and did we mention that it is low on calories too? Yup, just 5 calories per 100ml. So drink up without fear of a hangover. Pals Zero Alcohol is also available at liquor stores and supermarkets nationwide.

Heaps Normal

Price: $17.95 for 4

Three crumpled heaps normal cans on a white background.Brew lovers, this one's for you—Aussie fave Heaps Normal is taking NZ by storm with its Quiet XPA, a non-alcoholic beer that doesn't compromise on flavour. Created in an effort to change the conversation around drinking culture, Heaps Normal is redefining the beer category. Their first launch, the beloved Quiet XPA, is just as familiar as it is progressive. It's refreshing, it's citrus-y, it's perfectly bitter with a soft malty finish. It's beer as you know and love it, just without the hangover. Outselling both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beers around Australia in 2021, it's safe to say Heaps Normal is heaps good. 

Big Drop Brewing

Price: $21.99 for 4

Hands dive into ice to retrieve their Big Drop Brewing beers.Enjoy a cold one with the award-winning non-alcoholic Aussie brewery that caters for everyone. With four flavours on offer, Big Drop encourages you to rally up the gang and crack open a cold one in the sun. They offer a sweet alternative for craft beer lovers who want to switch up the way they drink without losing that oh-so-good flavour. Introducing their galactic milk stout, pine trail pale ale, the uptown craft lager and Paradiso IPA, the four flavours explore sweet and spicy aromas that will have you begging for more while cutting back your alcohol and carb intake, they even offer a vegan option! Expect more from these guys in their mission to create a non-alcoholic version of any style of beer on offer. Sign us up!

State Of Play

Price: $20 for 6

A hand holds up a can of State Of Play, one of the best non-alcoholic brews in NZ.And now for a good old Kiwi success story. Introducing State Of Play, NZ’s first and only 100% zero alcohol brewery. Founder Grant Caunter has spent years in the brewing business both here and abroad and has created a unique drop after giving up alcohol before returning to NZ and finding zero-alcohol beer options a little thin on the ground. Grant decided to put his wealth of knowledge and experience to use and that’s where State of Play was born. The first beer off the canning line was the flagship State of Play IPA, a cracking brew with a balance of NZ hop bitterness, Canterbury malt backbone and less than 0.5% alcohol. Next off the ranks was the Nectaron Unfiltered Pale Ale In another game-changing move, the beer has been brewed without alcohol from the start, rather than removing it from a regular beer and then adding flavours back in to compensate, as the majority of big players do. Now they've just released the Sunbreaker Ale Zero, so pick up a can and taste the difference.

Zeffer Cider Crisp Apple 0%

Price: $12.50 for 4

Someone holds a can of cider out with a wild beach in the background.A 0% alcohol craft cider is just what this list has been waiting for. Enter Zeffer, purveyors of real New Zealand Cider crafted in sunny Hawke's Bay. Their Zeffer Cider Crisp Apple 0% is carefully fermented and then deftly spun to remove the alcohol—resulting in a refreshingly off-dry cider that's lightly sparkling and full of flavour with a delicate sweetness. A classic cider with zero alcohol and only 39 calories per can? Count us in.

Mac’s

Price: $16 for 6

Now, this is exciting. While *technically* not completely alcohol-free (there is less than 0.5% in alcohol by volume), Mac’s is the first New Zealand craft beer brand to launch an alcohol-free golden ale. It’s called Mac’s Stunt Double Alcohol-Free* Golden Ale and the result is bright, refreshing, thirst-quenching and most importantly—tastes just like beer. Bring a six-pack to your next BBQ with your friends or enjoy a cold one after a day of fishing. The beer is brewed with pale and crystal malts, which give it a caramelised malt flavour and full body, and the hops add a citrus aroma and enough bitterness to balance out the sweetness. If you’re looking for absolutely zero-alcohol beer, however, some of our favourites are Asahi ZeroHeineken 0.0% and Steinlager Zero.

Naked Life

Price: $17.99 for 4

A man at a bar presenting Naked Life's Italian SpritzAre you a sucker for the classic cocktails or sick of the lemon-lime bitters alternative on a sober night out? Then this one could be for you. Aussie’s Naked Life has launched four of their biggest-selling sugar-free, alcohol-free canned cocktails so Kiwis can celebrate any occasion with a bev in hand and keep the good times rolling only with a healthier approach. So whether you’re a G&T enthusiast, Italian Spritz lover, or kill for a Margarita or Mojito any day—Naked Life has got you sorted, with their range available now at Countdown stores nationwide. Whether you are using them for pacing or replacing, you can expect the same familiar experience through distilled botanicals and extracts of fruit. So crack open a can, pour it over ice, garnish, and voilá—cocktail night is on (only guilt-free!).

Sober? Check out these awesome mocktail bars around the city.

Image credit: AF Drinks, Seedlip, AF Drinks, Edenvale Wines, Lyre's Spirit Co, Black Pineapple, Pals, Heaps Normal, Big Drop Brewing, State Of Play, Zeffer, Naked Life.

Editor's note: Urban List editors independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. Urban List has affiliate partnerships, so we get revenue from your purchase.

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