Low Alcohol, High Flavor: Low ABV Beverages You’ll Love to Drink

by Payton Alexander

Whether you’re trying to cut back on your alcohol consumption or you know you have a long night of bar hopping ahead of you, it helps to know what’s available to help keep your alcohol intake low. What’s more, you don’t have to sacrifice flavor to do it! By choosing drinks with low alcohol by volume (or ABV), you can drink mindfully AND in style. 

Check out these low alcohol alternatives!

Piquette

This one is for the wine drinkers. While this light and fizzy sipper isn’t technically wine, as it’s not made from fermented grapes, piquette is made from the leftover skins, seeds, and stems of wine. This grape pomace, as it’s called, is then mixed with water to allow the remaining sugars to ferment before bottling for a 4-9% ABV libation. This super-concentrated pomace provides a drink that highlights a singular flavor from the original wine – so rather than the complex harmony of primary, secondary, and even tertiary notes as seen in wine, piquettes tend to sing one delicious note.

Like the LaCroix of natural wine, it’s a cheerful, refreshing,l and pleasantly prickly drink that won’t leave you with a headache the next day. 

Americano

Bittersweet and bubbly, it’s easy to whip up an Americano at a moment’s notice. Made of just three ingredients – Campari, sweet vermouth, and soda – it’s a cocktail that can easily transition from day to night. Campari’s grapefruit bitterness and electric red hue bring a refreshing tang to sweet vermouth’s dark fruited, sometimes spicy palate. With a wash of soda water, the rich, bold flavors are transformed into a refreshing yet flavorful cocktail. 

Choose high-quality sweet vermouth and refrigerate it after opening. It’s a fortified wine rather than a distilled spirit, so its properties will degrade quickly without proper storage. It will stay good for about a month in the fridge.

Americano Recipe

1 1/2 ounces Campari

1 1/2 ounces sweet vermouth

Soda water, chilled, to top

Garnish: orange twist

  1. Fill a highball glass with ice, then add the Campari and sweet vermouth.
  2. Top with the soda water and stir gently to combine.
  3. Garnish with an orange twist.

Shrubs

Turn an overabundance of spring and summer fruits into a tangy, sweet beverage made of just fruit, sugar, and vinegar. And once you have your shrub, you can add a shot of liquor and top it with soda for a summery cocktail that wakes up your senses. 

Yes, this takes a little more work than pouring a piquette or an Americano. It’s worth it, though, especially if you have a lot of fruit that’s threatening to go bad. Basically, macerate fruit such as peaches, strawberries, or blackberries with sugar, allowing those sweet juices to flow. Then strain the fruit and add that syrup to vinegar, such as champagne vinegar or apple cider vinegar. Allow to mellow together for at least a week in the fridge and voilà – you have a shrub! 

Add alcohol or not – it’s a versatile ingredient that can keep in the fridge for up to 6 months.

Some favorite combinations with soda include:

Related: Non-Alcoholic Wines: Pros & Cons

White Port and Tonic

White port might not feature prominently on many bar carts, but it’s a lighter, vibrant offering from Portugal that’s delicious on its own or with a good quality tonic. There’s plenty to love about white port’s orange, honey, and apple tones that make it equally at home on ice in the summer or straight in the winter. 

Boutique wine shops are much more likely to stock this somewhat-rare port than your average grocery store. Some white ports are aged in wood casks, lending almond and vanilla aromas.

Simply pour an ounce or two of white port into a glass with ice and fill it with tonic water for a quick, low-ABV drink. Garnish with an orange peel if you’re feeling fancy. As classy as it is thirst-quenching, enjoy it in place of a pre-dinner martini.



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