Men’s Journal Features The Pathfinder

For those seeking non-alcoholic drinks, the days of making do with club soda and lime are over. The last half-decade has seen a surge of non-alcoholic spirits that taste so good you won’t know what’s missing. The same goes for non-alcoholic beer and non-alcoholic wine.

Finding the best non-alcoholic spirits, though, requires more than cracking a bottle and taking a swig. Most are designed for mixing, not shooting alongside a can of alcohol-free IPA. Therefore, to find the best non-alcoholic whiskey and other not-so-spirited takes, we concocted cocktails and consulted some of the brightest minds in the booze-free world.

Our top overall pick for the best non-alcoholic spirit is The Pathfinder Hemp and Root, which goes toe-to-toe with amaros in flavor and complexity. The Pathfinder can also pull double duty, either sipped neat, stirred into a non-alcoholic Negroni, or blended with seltzer for a standout spritz.

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Why You Should Trust Us

I’m a veteran journalist and author who’s been covering the beverage industry for more than two decades—from the craft beer boom to the cocktail revival, cider’s resurgence, hard seltzer’s bubbly rise and, now, the new wave of non-alcoholic drinks. Over the years, I’ve tasted scores of non-alcoholic spirits and cocktails, as well as interviewed many makers in the non-alcoholic sector. Over the last several months alone, I’ve sampled more than 40 different non-alcoholic spirits.

I also received expert recommendations from Nick Bodkins, the founder and president of Boisson, a fast-growing chain of non-alcoholic bottle shops in New York City and California, and Alex Jump, a cofounder and director of operations for Focus on Health, which advocates for the health and wellness of workers in the food and beverage sector.

Compilation of three rye whiskey bottles, Old Overholt, Blue Run, Knob Creek, with Men's Journal Spirits Award 2023 badge.

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What We Look For When Choosing the Best Non-Alcoholic Spirits

We found that the best non-alcoholic spirits feature distinct aromatics and flavors, serving as faithful copies of full-strength tequila, gin, bourbon, and more.

We placed a premium on high-quality ingredients and processes, in addition to testing the spirits’ abilities to be mixed into common classic cocktails.

Best Overall Non-Alcoholic Spirit: The Pathfinder Hemp & Root

Best Non-Alcoholic Spirits: The Pathfinder Hemp and Root

The Pathfinder Hemp and Root

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Fermented from hemp and distilled in copper pot stills, The Pathfinder Hemp and Root is flavored with a host of botanicals including saffron, wormwood, sage, angelica root, ginger, juniper, and orange peel for a citrusy, bittersweet ride. (Note: There’s no THC in this non-alcoholic spirit.)

“We love its nod to the bygone apothecaries of the American West, as well as its versatility,” Bodkins says. “Pathfinder makes a memorable after-dinner drink.”

Jump is also a fan. “It’s great in cocktails, served long, or on the rocks,” she says, praising its notes of pine, rhubarb, and grapefruit. “Whether you drink but are skipping for a round or a night, or if you’re sober, Pathfinder is truly for every kind of consumer.”

How to Enjoy

Sip it neat, use it in a Negroni, or use it in a spritz:

The Pathfinder Hemp and Root Spritz



  1. Add ingredients to a mixing glass with ice.
  2. Stir to combine and chill.
  3. Pour over fresh ice in glass of choice, then top with seltzer.

Best Non-Alcoholic Tequila: Lyre’s Agave Blanco Spirit

Lyre's Agave Blanco Spirit

Lyre’s Agave Blanco Spirit

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The British company Lyre’s was founded in 2019 to reproduce the globe’s greatest alcoholic spirits, be that gin, bourbon, or absinthe. One of our favorite nonalcoholic spirit is this take on tequila called the Agave Blanco. The top blanco, or unaged, tequilas boast a bright, fresh character, and this one offers a bracing citrus quality sprinkled with notes of fresh-cracked black pepper.

How to Enjoy

Have a favorite classic tequila? You’re in luck! The agave-based spirit makes for a mighty fine margarita. Try this recipe that also includes the Lyre’s Orange Sec.

Best Non-Alcoholic Gin: Pentire Seward

Best Non-Alcoholic Spirits: Pentire Seward

Pentire Seward

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“The zesty and vibrant botanical spirit is inspired by the coastal flora of the U.K.,” Bodkins says of the Pentire Seward–a nonalcoholic gin that combines pink grapefruit with a raft of oceanic ingredients including wild seaweed and sea rosemary. “Pentire not only holds up to any mixer, but it’s complex enough to make Seaward a compelling standalone as well.”

How to Enjoy

Keep it classic and mix the non-alcoholic gin with quality tonic from Fever-Tree or Q Mixers. Garnish with a lime.

Best Non-Alcoholic Whiskey: Free Spirits The Spirit of Bourbon

Free Spirits Bourbon

Free Spirits The Spirit of Bourbon

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Good bourbon is the product of patience, aging a spirit in charred oak barrels for years. The Spirit of Bourbon from Free Spirits ably channels its namesake spirit.

“The warm oak and spice aromas, followed by a rich and rounded-out mouthfeel, make it a standout,” Bodkins says. “The finish offers a pleasant warming sensation that keeps us reaching for this alternative anytime we’re craving a whiskey-based cocktail.”

How to Enjoy

The Spirit of Bourbon can be used in any classic bourbon-based cocktail, from the old fashioned to the mint julep.

Best Non-Alcoholic Vodka: CleanCo Clean V

Best Non-Alcoholic Spirits: CleanCo Clean V

CleanCo Clean V

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Vodka is sometimes touted for its total absence of flavor. But our favorite vodkas have deeper complexity, maybe spiciness from rye or a smooth character courtesy of wheat. CleanCo’s Clean V vodka alternative calls to mind tart green apples with a touch of spicy cinnamon too, like a clear-eyed take on fall cider. The best non-alcoholic vodka has far more character than you’ll find in the average boozy vodka.

How to Enjoy

Set the shot glasses aside. Mix the vodka alternative with club soda and a spritz of lime.

More Non-Alcoholic Spirits We Love

Best Non-Alcoholic Spirits: Ritual Zero Proof Rum Alternative

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Best Non-Alcoholic Spirits: Tenneyson Black Ginger

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Best Non-Alcoholic Spirits: Parch Spicy Pinarita

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Best Non-Alcoholic Spirits: Wilfred’s Apéritif

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How Are Non-Alcoholic Spirits Made?

There are several pathways to producing the best non-alcoholic spirits. Some non-alcoholic gins, whiskeys, and more begin life as a standard-strength spirit. Beverage producers begin by taking a standard-strength distilled spirit and then removing the alcohol through two common processes.

Vacuum distillation is a technique of eliminating alcohol through a mix of heat and reduced pressure; only the aromatic, booze-free liquid remains. A second process is reverse osmosis reducing pressure, in which the spirit passes through a membrane that helps remove alcohol. Additionally, producers might halt the fermentation process before yeast can fully convert sugar into alcohol, though this process is more common in beer.

Other brands completely ditch the alcohol. Producers might macerate fruits and steep botanicals in hot water, which are then blended to approximate a spirit. Alternately, perhaps they’ll use techniques similar to gin production and distill aromatics into water, not alcohol. There’s no single way to make the best non-alcoholic spirit.

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