In partnership with Aplós.
We don't like
Here at The Quality Edit, our fascination with non-alcoholic spirits has gone from Dry January special coverage to a year-round obsession. That's because we've come a long way from O'Douls and the "near beers" of yesteryear, which were too off-putting to appeal to anyone besides the totally abstinent. A delicious, functional (meaning you feel the effects), zero-ABV spirit like Aplós, however? That's a whole other story.
Not only does it deliver on the flavor front, and provide the same sense of ritual of all your favorite mixology, Aplós also uses hemp and adaptogens to help you actually unwind. As someone who often beelines for the drink table at a party, in need of social lubrication before braving crowds, Aplós biggest selling point is its delivery of that same pleasant, emboldening buzz. So whether you're interested in going "weekday sober," or want a tipple for nights where you can't afford that next-day hangover, Aplós gets our vote to become your new go-to.
A DIFFERENT WAY TO DRINK
For co-founder Emily Onkey, COVID-era lockdowns "stripped away all the fun upsides of alcohol" and laid bare just how often we turn to it out of pure habit. David Fudge, who she worked with at Bonobos, was already a rare and reluctant drinker, but still craved the chic, indulgent experience that cocktail lovers get to enjoy. Aplós emerged from their joint desire to reimagine what social drinking could look like: an enlivening, stimulating experience that didn't come with headaches, dehydration, and loss of control attached.
Their immediate success proved that there were hordes of other people out there who felt the same as they did: people who enjoy alcohol on certain occasions, but also want a functional, relaxing alternative for when they don’t want to risk poor sleep, consume empty calories, or manage a rough hangover. They found that not only did their customer base transcend the sober, all-organic stereotype you might expect, it shattered the idea of a drinker vs. non-drinker binary altogether. You don't have to be ready to eschew alcohol entirely to enjoy Aplós; at its core, it represents the excitement of simply having another option. If variety is the spice of life, then Aplós is here to celebrate the spice cabinet.
FOR WINDING DOWN…
Of Aplós' two flagship flavors, Calme ($48) is the most popular -- and the most relaxing. That's thanks to an infusion of broad-spectrum hemp, which has been found to help with multiple anxiety and sleep disorders. That's not to suggest a glass of Calme is akin to liquid Ambien, though. On the contrary, it's a fantastic companion for fireside conversation, an intimate date night, or some alone time curled up with that book you've been neglecting. Where CBD drinks often make me feel drowsy, and regretful that I started inducing yawns by 8pm, I loved the mellow buzz I felt after a serving of Calme.
Best of all, unlike the more extreme effects of alcohol, Calme's gentle relaxation doesn't lead to a crash. It produces a calm contentment instead of drowsiness -- which is all the better for savoring that killer flavor profile. The citrusy, herbaceous tasting notes are invigorating and cooling (think yuzu, rosemary and bitter dandelion), equally delicious on the rocks or with soda. As a lover of cocktail recipes, I've been subbing it in for gin in gimlets and tonics, loving the way each botanical shines through.
… AND LIVENING UP
All that said, sometimes you need a little extra spring in your step -- and for that, Arise ($48) has got you covered. Made with a totally different functional blend of ingredients like Vitamin B3, B12, ginseng and moringa, Arise was formulated with social gatherings in mind. I've noticed an uptick in my mood almost every time I've imbibed, whether it's while hosting a dinner party or just to get through my afternoon slump of Zoom meeting fatigue.
Which is another huge bonus to the zero-ABV lifestyle: there's no time or place where Aplós is off-limits. A 2pm glass of wine might earn you a healthy dose of side eye, but Aplós' all-natural ingredients enliven instead of impair. The lemony, tea-like flavors of Arise are so delicious that that's very good news indeed -- a mid-day Aplós Arnold Palmer might be my idea of heaven.
TWO IS BETTER THAN ONE
Like yin and yang, like pasta and sauce, Aplós' two flavors go even better together. The Duo ($88) two-pack makes a truly fantastic gift: they've become indispensable not just for my own enjoyment, but any time I'm hosting guests who aren't drinking for any variety of reasons. I've enjoyed pouring some for the N/A skeptics most of all, whose expectations of weak flavors are immediately shattered by Aplós' complex blend of ingredients.
For the health-minded, the Duo also ticks virtually every box you could want: both spirits are not only free of alcohol, but are zero-sugar, low-calorie and completely non-GMO. That plus the presence of vitamins and homeopathics alike -- not to mention the blessed respite from hangovers -- make each Aplós flavor a potent serving of self-care. If this is the future of drinking, we're all going to be a lot better off for it.
LET'S RAISE A GLASS
Look, we're aware this is a crowded market. Chances are you've heard of, and even tried, other N/A spirits before. But Aplós' taste and genuinely mood-boosting effects make them the real deal, which is increasingly rare amidst the hype machine. Next time you're looking to unwind without paying the price mere hours later, you'll be thrilled to have a bottle (or two) in your back pocket.
The perks of drinking with none of the drawbacks? It's not often you get to have the best of both worlds.