Summer cocktails should be light and refreshing, and after a day of playing in the sun, you should be able to quench your thirst without getting knocked on your behind from the alcohol. Right now, fresh ingredients and creative combinations are taking precedence over a big hit of alcohol—that’s why today’s bar professionals are creating zero-proof and low alcohol by volume  (ABV) cocktails that are easy to love on warm summer days.

What Are Zero-Proof and Low-ABV Cocktails?

Zero-proof cocktails are made with fresh produce, juices, tonics, and other mixers, but no alcohol. Low-ABV cocktails contain elements of vodka, tequila, gin, or other spirits, but at smaller amounts than the typical cocktail.

Why Are They So Popular Right Now?

Kiddie cocktails are for kids. Non-drinkers—pregnant women, designated drivers, and others—want something more sophisticated and interesting than soda and lemonade.

Zero-proof and low-ABV cocktails are perfect for brunch. Read all about the brunch cocktail trend.

They’re easier to pair with food. Think street tacos, banh mi, and snacks by the pool.

They fit into a healthy lifestyle. Now you can do Dry January, Whole 30, or just maintain a regular healthy diet and still participate in your social life.

Plus…zero-proof cocktails are a good way for restaurants and bars to boost sales from non-drinkers.

How to Build Flavor

Fresh fruits and vegetables, herbs, spices, and roots are a given, but there are a lot of additional options these days. Use these ingredients to build flavor and quench thirst this summer.

Amaro and Vermouth
Amaro (“bitter” in Italian) is an herbal liqueur that is grape brandy, spirits, or wine infused with a blend of herbs, roots, flowers, and spices and then aged in casks or bottles. Vermouth is an aromatized, fortified wine flavored with various botanicals. Bitter and slightly sweet, they both impart bracing flavor to any cocktail.

Made with botanicals like hay and fresh herbs, Seedlip is the world’s first non-alcoholic spirit. It adds the dryness and complexity of traditional spirits, without the alcohol.

Aperol is an Italian apéritif made of bitter orange, gentian, rhubarb, and cinchona. It has less alcohol than Campari, it’s less bitter, and it’s the star of everyone’s favorite summer cocktail right now…the Aperol Spritz.

Shrubs and Bitters
Shrubs are made with vinegar combined with fresh fruits or herbs. Bitters and concentrated concoctions made of various aromatic herbs, bark, roots, or fruit. A little bit of either goes a long way to a more interesting low or no-alcohol cocktail.

Read more about what’s coming up in the culinary world with the latest in FDR Food & Beverage Trends!

zero-proof and low-ABV cocktails