Non-alcoholic drinks to get excited about

Edible flowers in a fresh seasonal salad

Blanche Clark

Posted January 24, 2022

From spirits that taste like the real thing to our refreshing mocktail recipe below, these non-alcoholic beverages are great for those seeking a healthier lifestyle. 

If you’re feeling the need for alcohol-free days, you’re not alone. Sales of non-alcoholic beverages are surging, and now Melbourne’s best bartenders are well versed in finding alternatives to sate your thirst for a good time.  

Thankfully, the days of nursing a lemon, lime and bitters while your friends knock back the latest trendy cocktails are gone. There are non-alcoholic gins, rums, spritzes, beers and wines readily available to ensure you don’t miss out on the fun.  

Febfast, Dry July and Sober October all offer a holiday from alcohol, but you may simply want to reduce your weekly intake after the festive season or shake off bad habits formed during COVID-19 lockdowns.

Young embracing sobriety  

RACV City Club Bar Manager Rob Pierce says young people are driving the rise of non-alcoholic products.  

“Young people find it more acceptable to go to a party without alcohol than we did, say, 10 or 20 years ago,” Pierce says. “That attitude is trickling up to older generations, and the Australian culture is changing.” 

He says it’s about education as well. “Many people want to be healthier, and drink driving is a big issue, so education is making people realise they can still go out and have fun with their friends without alcohol.”

Top non-alcoholic tipples 

New products are regularly entering the market, with non-alcoholic gin and low and non-alcoholic beer being the top choices at Bourke Street Green. 

“You may have noticed non-alcoholic beers and gins are even on our supermarket shelves,” Pierce says. “It’s a change for the future.” 

Technically not all these beers and wines marketed as non-alcohol are completely alcohol free. Some contain 0.5 per cent ABV (alcohol by volume) – apparently the same level as a very ripe banana - so always check the label if you’re being strict about your intake.


A glass of tonic water with juniper branch and berries

Juniper berries are used to make both alcoholic and non-alcoholic gins.

Barely-there beer 

Although big companies such as Heineken and Carlton & United Breweries have dominated the alcohol-free beer market for the past five or so years, hundreds of independent brewers have also found a way to remove alcohol from their beer through heat or specialised yeast.  
Heaps Normal non-alcoholic beer, which is popular at Bourke Street Green, is an Australian company started by four mates in Sydney. Coopers Birell Ultra Light also comes recommended, delivering the malted barley, hops and yeast flavours of a quality beer without any of the alcohol.

Being there in spirit 

Non-alcoholic gin is having its day in the sun. Just like the real thing, distillers use botanicals such as juniper to create the flavour. But distilleries never reveal the exact composition. You’ll find nebulous terms such as “botanical extracts” and “citrus acid” listed as ingredients.  

At Bourke Street Green, a Seedlip non-alcoholic gin and tonic is a crowd-pleaser. Pierce suggests trying a few different non-alcoholic gins to find a flavour that suits you. Once you remove the alcohol, your palate may also become more sensitive to the taste of the tonic as well. 

“Indian Tonic Water is by far the top choice, but there are alternatives,” Pierce says. “Fever-Tree’s Elderflower Tonic is lighter and slightly sweeter, and great for summer, while Mediterranean has less quinine and more herbs.”

Bartender pouring tonic water

Try different tonic waters to enhance the flavour of non-alcoholic gin.

On-the-wagon wines 

It’s taken more than a decade for non-alcoholic wine to gain traction, but it’s now reportedly Australia’s fastest growing drink category. But what’s the difference between grape juice and non-alcoholic wine?  

RACV Club Sommelier Christian Maier says low or alcohol-free wines are made by creating a normal wine, then removing the alcohol with a spinning cone, and sweetening the resulting liquid with sugar or grape juice to give it body.

“Non-alcoholic wine is the most difficult category to appropriate the original alcoholic product,” he says. “The trick is to make it taste like wine and not fruit juice.”

He says non-alcoholic wines are often sweeter than conventional wines.

“A normal dry white will have up to 4g per litre of residual sugar, whereas non-alcohol wines have up to 7g per litre. That’s not so good if you’re trying to lose weight. They're also too sweet to cook with, and many have flavouring added as well.”

In response to increasing consumer demand, Maier has chosen two non-alcoholic wines to serve in the Members Dining Room at RACV Club. “In my book, the best ones that provide a great tasting experience are the Giesen Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris from Marlborough in New Zealand," he says.

A mocktail with mojo

If you need to celebrate sans alcohol, then a mocktail is the perfect solution. You can enhance the flavour and fizz with seasonal fruit and add garnishes to make it look extra special. For his Summer Mocktail below, Rob Pierce has made a sugar syrup with pomegranate and nectarine.  

“It’s easy to make this sugar syrup,” he says. “It’s one part sugar, one part water, and then you add the destoned nectarine and pomegranate seeds. Bring to the simmer and keep stirring until it’s completely broken down. Then strain and cool.” 

The other ingredients are pineapple juice, lemon juice, tinned passionfruit and soda water. “The reason we use pineapple juice is it replaces our egg white and creates a lovely foam, and the soda water gives it that fizz element,” Pierce says.  

If you’re keen to make your own dehydrated lemon and lime for the garnish, thinly slice the citrus fruit and cook slowly in a 75°C oven for four to five hours.

Delicious Summer Mocktail recipe

Summer Mocktail recipe 


  • 45 ml pineapple juice
  • 30ml of lemon juice 
  • 20ml of sugar syrup.
  • 30ml of tinned passionfruit without seeds
  • Ice
  • Soda water 


  1. Measure and pour the pineapple juice, lemon juice, sugar syrup and tinned passionfruit into a cocktail shaker.

  2. Hit the lid down tight on the shaker and create a flush line to seal.

  3. Shake holding both sides. 

  4. Fill a highball glass with ice. 

  5. Using a strainer, pour the mocktail into the glass. 

  6. Fill all the way to the top with soda water. 

  7. Garnish with dehydrated lemon and lime, and a sprig of mint. 

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