PHOTO/DAVID ROBERT: Andy Johnson puts the finishing touches—including locally grown violas—on a ginger cranberry non-alcoholic cocktail at Rum Sugar Lime.

People are generally surprised to hear I don’t drink, mostly because I’ve spent 16 years putting drinks in people’s hands and talking about drinks with anyone who will listen.

I chose to stop imbibing because I genuinely love not drinking. I feel better; I am more present; and it’s the easiest time in my life for me to be a teetotaler—in part because we now live in the golden age of NA options.

Advances in technology and a demand for better-tasting non-alcoholic options have opened the door for a whole new world of delicious and fun non-boozy drinks. So if you are sober or sober curious, here is a handy guide to some tasty NA slurps for your slippery summer.

Beer: Long gone are the days of skunky-funky non-alcoholic beer. As the world’s beer has gotten more fun and wild, so has the world of n/a. This industry is no longer an afterthought—because sales of NA beer reached more than $20 billion in 2022. Chefs, celebrities and some of the most significant players in the beverage world are investing in NA beer because of the demand. Brands like Corona and Guinness have upped their game by creating delicious and near-perfect versions of their flagship beers that you can order at many bars nowadays. But it’s not all big brands: Athletic Brewing makes fantastic versions of every style; Crux delivers near-perfect IPAs; and Busty Lush has a selection of fruited sours that are to die for.

Wine: To answer an obvious question before it’s asked: No, non-alcoholic wine is not just grape juice. There is a new generation of winemakers using their knowledge of wine and new technologies to offer the complete wine experience without the buzz. Some companies like Empress, a Norwegian non-alcoholic brewery, craft vibrant flavors using tonics and kombucha techniques. Brands making genuine non-alcoholic wine remove the alcohol content or reduce it to less than 0.5% by volume. The alcohol can be removed through various methods, including vacuum distillation, reverse osmosis and evaporation. What is left, if it’s done right, is an articulate, delicious and food-friendly wine. Brands to check out: No & Low, Empress, and Lautus.

Spirits and cocktails: Sober or not sober, everyone enjoys a good cocktail. We all crave balanced and refreshing concoctions that reflect the care and thought of a bartender. I am happy to report that the bar world has embraced the trend of non-alcoholic tipples. Rum Sugar Lime in midtown Reno has a full NA menu, developed with the same attention to detail they give their general cocktail menu. The world of non-alcoholic spirits is also growing daily, with brands like The Pathfinder making wholly unique styles of NA spirits, while brands like Seedlip and Lyre’s deliver classic spirit styles like rum and gin.

There is no wrong time to take a vacation from drinking. Sometimes you must, and sometimes it just seems like a good idea. The most important thing is to listen to your mind and body, and when you need a break, do it. But when you take that break, there’s still a world of fun and delicious beverages to enjoy by the pool.

Michael Moberly has been a bartender, spirits educator and columnist in Northern Nevada for 15 years. He is the current beverage innovation manager at Monin, and owns his own events and consulting company,...

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