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It can be hard to manage a healthy relationship with alcohol when you are largely unemployed, do a lot of doomscrolling, have anxiety, and, ahem, are still in a global pandemic. I am, of course, referring to myself, but needless to say, many people are rethinking how much and how often they imbibe right now.
Luckily, there are plenty of products out there to help the alcohol-conscious among us. Journalist Julia Bainbridge published a non-alcoholic cocktail book, Good Drinks, last year and has launched a newsletter delving further into the subject. Drink makers like Unified Ferments and Hella Cocktail Co.’s Bitters & Soda offer booze-free bevs with bite. And in New York City there is even an entire shop devoted to stocking beers, wines, and more—sans alcohol.
Lately, when I find myself wanting the ritual of pouring a cold beverage into fancy stemware, I turn to these newly launched Wine Proxies from a Canadian vinegar brand called Acid League. Each month they offer three new flavors, available as a one-off order or part of a subscription. And while none of the February trio of bottles I tried tasted much like wine to me, the uncorking experience was every bit as special.
The Proxies are made from juice, tea, spices, and bitters, and are presented in curvaceous bottles with pretty illustrated labels and colorful wax closures. My favorite flavor was described as “McIntosh apples mesh with maple syrup, spruce tips, Labrador tea, and spicy cedar to capture a spring walk.” It had all of the complexity that’s typically reserved for booze, with a delightful, lychee-like flavor that was a lot more interesting than other non-alcoholic bevs I’ve tried.
It’s worth noting that while the Proxies mimic the experience of pouring and drinking wine, they aren’t claiming to perfectly replicate a particular type of vino (they’ve got their own good thing going). So if you’re looking for a more realistic wine-y dupe, this product is probably not going to do it for you. But if you’re open to an experience that’s distinct from other non-alcoholic options out there, and you’re looking to be more conscientious about your booze consumption, then you’ve met your match. Like the best relationships, Acid League is curious, ever-changing, and respectful of your boundaries.