Sober-friendly spirits are quickly becoming a firm fixture of the drinks market, with non-alcoholic rum on the rise. During the past decade, it was gin that dominated the spirit market, becoming the go-to drink of choice for millennials. As the last decade petered however, health-conscious hipsters were swiftly steered toward non-alcoholic alternatives. In the past few years, there has been a sharp rise in the amount of brands specialising in zero proof gin and botanical beverages. Rum was the next big market trend, almost matching the same dizzying sales figures gin enjoyed. In a pre-emptive move, many producers have quickly switched tack and turned to manufacturing non-alcoholic rum substitutes.
What to Expect from Alcohol-Free Rum
Compared to other spirits, rum has a substantial alcohol content. Therefore it should be as no surprise that non-alcoholic rum doesn’t quite hold up to its full-bodied counterpart. The best alcohol-free rum recipes will still boast the syrupy molasses quality and woody character synonymous with the real thing, but beyond that, you will start to notice distinct differences. Many non-alcoholic rums are noticeably sweet in flavour thanks to the lack of a fermentation process in their production. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but may deter rum purists.
Alcohol-free alternatives to rum will also offer distinct aromas, which will vary considerably depending on the brand and recipe. If you prefer your drinks with a considerable level of sweetness, you should have little trouble getting accustomed to non-alcoholic rum beverages. However, if you value the burn and bracing bite of pure alcohol, you will find such characteristics sadly lacking.
That being said, the best alcohol-free rums out there will stick to the familiar hallmarks of the real thing. Sweet sugar cane is a commonly utilised ingredient, while you will struggle to find a rum substitute that does not showcase sweet caramel, ripe raising and fragrant vanilla to some degree.
How to Enjoy Rum Alternatives
As with any alcohol-free spirit, the best way to consume alcohol free rum is to combine it with mixers and ice in cocktails. As it lacks the fieriness of an alcoholic spirit, zero proof rum will not hold up on its own if drank neat or over ice. The nuanced characteristics you can expect are best bolstered by other ingredients and you should be focused more on taste and aroma than anything else.
Stick to the classic cocktail recipes and keep things simple. Keen on rum and cola? Reach for a bottle of your favourite cola drink and combine with a generous measure of your rum substitute of choice and you are on to a winner. As this cocktail staple uses minimal ingredients, you will definitely want to up your usual measure of ‘spirit’ when making one. To start off with, you may want to double your usual measure of rum to ensure the basic flavours are noticeable. Ice cubes will only dilute the flavour, so chill your mixer rather than pour over ice. When it comes to garnishing, a single wedge of lime is all you need.
If you like your cocktails with a bit of heat, a zero alcohol rum mule might be your best bet. Pour a healthy measure of non-alcoholic rum into a glass, top with ginger beer and finish with a fresh lime juice to taste. Depending on how much rum substitute you are using, you are free to use ice in this recipe. While we are talking cocktails, it would be criminal not to mention the much-loved mojito. This iconic cocktail requires a hearty measure of alcohol-free rum, a generous portion of fresh lime juice and a late addition of sugar syrup. No mojito is complete with plenty of minty freshness either. Combine all these ingredients in a highball glass, stir with enthusiasm and serve.
If alcohol reduction is your aim, rather than total abstinence, you can also enjoy alcohol-free rum as part of low-alcoholic cocktails. Any recipe requiring multiple spirits can easily be made more healthy by swapping out rum for a zero-alcohol alternative.
Best Non-Alcoholic Rum Brands
If you are looking to explore the delights of alcohol-free rum, you are not short on options. Many of the biggest names in alcohol-free spirits are offering some first-rate recipes that rival the most premium of rums.
Lyre’s are arguably one of the leading authorities in this corner of the market. While their rum alternatives are small in number, they are arguably some of the best you will currently find. Their Dark Cane Spirit offering will certainly appeal to those looking for a lighter alternative to conventional rum. Lyre’s outright admits the difficulty in replicating the complex characteristics of dark rum, but sidestep simple mimicry to deliver a distinct take on the classic spirit. Lyre’s Dark Cane Spirit might like the punch of alcohol-rich rum, but it does pack plenty of flavour. Signature notes of fig, fudge and caramel can all be savoured, while hints of toasted nuts are also detectable. While it lacks the sharp sting of alcohol, Dark Cane Spirit does offer a long, lingering finish, rich in sweet vanilla and syrupy maple qualities. Other rum trademarks like molasses and orange can also be found with here, making it an easy substitute for the real thing.
If you are looking for less darkness and more spice, Lyre’s Spiced Cane Spirit is an obvious option. This one is full of flavour on the palate, with telltale rum signatures like molasses, caramel and toasted nuts in abundance. Toffee, fig and sweet vanilla are also plentiful on the nose. This one is another easy choice for those looking to avoid alcohol, but stick to the flavours they love.
Other Alcohol-Free Options
Another major authority in the alcohol-free market is STRYYK. As with Lyre’s, this premium brand makes it known it isn’t intending to replicate authentic rum, but instead deliver something distinct and original. STRYYK NOT RUM does at least stick to the hallmarks of the rum recipe, however. Here you will find a brilliant blend of sweet sugar cane, with molasses sweetness and ripe raisin also noticeable. There is also plenty of vanilla sweetness here, along with more refined oak tones to balance things out. STRYYK is a great way to cut out alcohol from your lifestyle, but is an all-round heathy choice. This rum alternative is made with wholly natural ingredients, with no artificial flavours and zero carbohydrates. If the premium price tag of Lyre’s zero alcohol deters you, you will be glad to know that STRYYK is a much more affordable option.
Need more inspiration? You might also want to consider giving Ronsin a try. This non-alcoholic rum from Spain is a little more subtle on the palate than the other options we have discussed, but it still delivers some authentic rum characteristics. This one has molasses flavours in spades, while there is also a nice undercurrent of woody character from oak. Natural sweetness makes this an easy one to consume and combine with all kind of mixers, but it is a little more restrained when it comes to flavour.
Should You Make the Switch?
The health benefits of replacing regular rum with alcohol-free rum are obvious. If you are a regular drinker, there are instant gains to be add by slashing your alcohol intake. Not only will you have far fewer hangovers to contend with, you will eliminate countless empty calories from your daily intake.
You also do not have to settle for second-rate flavours thanks to the abundance of premium zero proof rums on the market. Producers are going to great lengths to deliver appealing alternatives that deliver terrific taste and authentic aromas, ensuring you will have little difficulty adjusting to sober-friendly spirits.