There is a long tradition of enjoying an adult beverage by the campfire, especially after a long day on the trail. But non-alcoholic drink options for these campfire moments are typically limited and… boring.

I speak from personal experience. My first few campfires after going sober could be summed up by a can of La Croix and a good attitude. I would watch friends unlock mini liquor stores out of the backs of their trucks, and I would sit quietly by the fire while my hands warmed up a trail-shaken can of Pomplemousse.

I did not miss what alcohol did to my health, but I did miss the ritual and reward of a special drink amongst friends. And thanks to a rapidly growing market segment of alcohol abstainers, there are more drinks for the sober and sober-curious now than ever. And some of them are pretty d*mn good.

The list below represents seven years of experimenting, exploring, and taste testing to create a booze-free beverage worthy of any campfire ring.

All opinions are my own, and I fully acknowledge that my subject matter intensity on this topic is borderline ridiculous. Take what you will.

But first things first. What to know before you go.


Non-Alcoholic Drink: 0% vs .5% ABV

A few things to mention about beverages that are .5% alcohol by volume (ABV):

  1. At .5% ABV, you would have to drink 10 cans in one hour to match the effect of one can of 5% ABV beer. 
  2. Foods such as ripe bananas (.4-.6%) and hamburger buns (1.2%) have higher ABV than any of the drinks listed below.
  3. Here in the US, the Food and Drug Administration considers drinks with less than .5% ABV to only have trace amounts of alcohol, allowing a company to label their drinks non-alcoholic. 

Real Talk: It is essential to understand what works best for you, especially if you’re in recovery or have an allergy. Please research in advance. 

Non-Alcoholic Versions of Hard Liquor are a HARD NO (Trust Us) 

A rule of thumb from years of taste testing and experimentation: Stay away from non-alcoholic whiskey, gin, tequila, or other spirits that attempt to recreate hard liquor. Very few stand independently, and most leave our palettes sad and our stomachs queasy, with one exception. (See below.)

If you miss the complex flavor profiles of hard alcohol, focus instead on NA spirits like Seedlip, aperitifs like Ghia, or phenomenally crafted beverages from Curious Elixirs. None of these beverages attempt to recreate alcohol. Instead, they focus on creating a complex and satisfying drinking experience that encourages sipping and savoring.

Now let’s get into it!

Best .5% Alcohol Beer: Athletic Brewing Run Wild IPA

Non-Alcoholic Drink Guide Run Wild

Cases of bright blue Run Wild are in just about every grocery store and liquor store fridge for a reason. Run Wild offers all the hoppiness and complexity of an IPA with less than 0.5% alcohol. Cracking open an ice-cold can at the end of the day gives you the whole sensory experience of beer without the buzz. 

I have poured a cold can of Run Wild for many family members, friends, and trail buddies. In the words of my IPA-loving younger brother, “If you hadn’t told me, I wouldn’t have known.” 

If you prefer an IPA with more bite, check out Free Wave Hazy IPA, also by Athletic Brewing. It is also a winner.

Best 0% Alcohol Beer: Asahi Super Dry Zero

Non-Alcoholic Drink Guide 2024 Asahi Super Dry Zero

A few 0% beers are on the market, Heineken Zero being the most well-known. 

Skip it. Seek out Asahi Super Dry Zero instead. 

Asahi pulls off a full-bodied lager-style NA beer that retains a robust body and avoids the watery graves most 0% lagers swim in. The Super Dry Zero is more malt than hops (but the hops are there) and avoids the slightly sweet aftertaste typical in 0% options. 

Be sure to pick up the Super Dry Zero. The Dry Zero is OK but much thinner on the palate. 

Best Spirit That Doesn’t Pretend to be an Alcohol Derivative: Seedlip Grove 42

Non-Alcoholic Drink Guide 2024 Seedlip Grove

Seedlip Grove 42 is a fantastic base for a wide range of NA cocktails. Add 2oz of Grove to cranberry juice, give it a little sparking water and a splash of lime, and you have an excellent non-alcoholic drink.

Grove’s flavors blend blood orange, mandarin, lemon, and ginger, making it a joy when mixed with tonics, soda water, ginger ale, or fresh juice. 

Honestly, the entire Seedlip collection is worthy, but Grove is the one I keep returning to. Head to their website and check out their recipe page for inspiration.  

Best Mocktails: Curious Elixirs No 2 & No 4

Non-Alcoholic Drink Guide Curious Elixirs No 2

Curious Elixirs is in a category of their own. They make no attempt to replicate alcohol – instead, they focus on creating botanical drinks with tons of personality that reference established drinks. 

Curious Elixirs No. 2 is the most complicated NA cocktail I’ve experienced. The first time I drank this over ice with a slice of lime, I just about fell over – there’s a very slight hint of a smoky mezcal underneath a sweet/savory pineapple and ginger ‘burn.’ It somehow tastes like a margarita, but it is entirely different at the same time. This is my favorite summer campfire ‘adult’ beverage.

Curious Elixirs No 4 suggests an Italian blood orange Aperol spritz for those who love a bit more citrus. Add a sprig of mint to your drink, and you’ve got something far beyond the ordinary.

Non-Alcoholic Drink Guide 2024 Curious 4

Best Mixers: Portland Syrups

Non-Alcoholic Drink Guide 2024 Portland Syrup

Portland Syrups is a playground. You can create your own 100% non-alcoholic drink by using one of their syrups with sparkling water and adding garnishes like rosemary sprigs or citrus wedges. Throw a bottle or two of these into your mobile pantry to play with, and you’re set. 

Best NA Hard Liquor Drink Alternative: Monday Gin

Non-Alcoholic Drink Guide 2024 Monday

If you want to give one NA spirit a go, make it Monday Gin

Monday Gin has a heavy juniper nose that carries all the way to the midpoint of the drink until it settles into a mild sour citrus/grapefruit tail end. The juniper in Monday is the element that pushes it into acceptable territory. The complexity is there. 

I don’t suggest drinking Monday on its own, but then again, how many gins did I ever drink on their own?

Mix Monday in your favorite tonic, and you have something close to the real thing. Plus, Monday has zero carbs, zero sugar, and zero calories for the health-conscious. 

And make sure you have ice. Drink this lukewarm at your own peril. 

Runners up that are still winners:

Ghia Sumac & Chili (canned) – Aperitif with a burn. Ready to sip in its can. 

De Soi Golden Hour (canned) – Adaptogens for the win. An excellent blend of herbaceous and citrus notes makes this an enjoyable sipping experience. 

Surely Brut (canned) – Hits the right sparkling wine notes, but like all NA wine, it falls off quickly. This at least gets the front of the drink right and mixes brilliantly with OJ.  

Brew Dog Punk AF – Lots of Hops at just 25 calories per can

As someone who has gone from clutching a La Croix with disappointment to creating my own unique non-alcoholic drinks, I hope this inspires you to explore, experiment or just have fun next time you’re socializing around the campfire. 

A non-boozey cheers to you!