The quest for the perfect, booze-free spirit continues.
And today, we're talking about Ritual Zero Proof - a relative newcomer to the category. Ritual launched in September 2019 in Chicago. Founder Marcus Sakey took a break from booze in 2018 and missed the "ritual" of having a drink while reading. (By the way, here's our review of Ritual Zero Proof Tequila, we conducted separately.
So he started playing with ingredients to make a tasty drink he could mix into a non-alcoholic cocktail. Some 500 iterations later, he had Ritual Zero Proof.
You've probably heard of Seedlip - the 800 lb. gorilla of the nonalcoholic, distilled spirits category. It started in the UK in 2014 and is now majority owned by booze-giant Diageo.
Ritual Zero Proof says it's the first American-made spirit alternative. And, as with its British counterpart, Diageo also invested in Ritual.
Currently, Ritual has two products - Ritual Zero Proof Gin Alternative and Whiskey Alternative. They both cost $26 per bottle (buy them here). And they're very low in calories and sugar (zero calories for the gin). The company says to use their product as a 1:1 replacement for liquor.
Take $5 off your first order on our bottle shop (here) using code NewReader.
Ritual Zero Proof Gin and Whiskey Alternatives
We tasted both of the products neat (even though they're made for mixing) and in non-alcoholic cocktails (recipes included below).
The standout characteristic of Ritual Zero Proof is definitely the creeping spiciness as you sip. It's quite pleasant and does a good job of slowing you down as you drink.
We reached out to RZP for more information on what brings that kick. They said the heat comes from "a number of all-natural botanical flavors including capsicum fruit, peppercorns, prickly ash and something I've never heard of before called jambu." Jambu is a leafy green found in the Amazon that has a numbing, anesthetic effect (much like Sichuan peppers).
Let's get to the tasting...We'll start with the Ritual Zero Proof Gin Alternative:
The nose is super bright with citrus and mint. And it smells a bit like weed (hemp leaves are an ingredient). Then it mellows out into some herbal notes on the back end - a little cilantro, perhaps.
Our first sip of Ritual Zero Proof was a bit watery at first. Then you get cucumber and some herbal notes. Then comes the burn! It jumps out at you as the drink works its way down.
Just to reiterate, Ritual Zero Proof isn't made for sipping. But we still wanted to know the core elements of what we're mixing in our drink.
To keep things simple, we mixed up a Gin and Tonic with the Gin Alternative.
We used 2 oz. of Ritual Zero Proof Gin Alternative over ice with Fever Tree Indian Tonic. Then we squeezed some fresh lime and garnished with lemon, lime, mint and some juniper berries.
A panel of sommeliers and chefs tasted the gin and tonic and the general consensus was "good."
The drink has fresh citrus and light herbals. It could definitely use a stronger, juniper kick to really mimic a G&T. But using a premium tonic water like Fever Tree will add good flavor and bitterness (to be fair, that's the secret to non-alc G&Ts... using good "T").
Overall, it's a pleasant drink and solid replacement for the real thing.
All five tasters gave it a thumbs up.Now, We Review Ritual Zero Proof Whiskey Alternative:
This drink smells like rye whiskey. It's just a little sweeter and more caramelly at the end.
As for the taste (again, RZP isn't made for sipping), it's very sweet and thin. But it does a good job getting the flavors from the oak. And you also get that very spicy kick mid palate.
Side note... the Whiskey Alternative is far superior to Whissin - a Spanish-made non-alcoholic whiskey (whose flavor is similar to a cherry syrup).
We made an old-fashioned with the Whiskey Alternative.
Our Ritual Zero Proof Old Fashioned
And, in The Zero Proof's opinion, this was the standout drink of the group.
We made this old fashioned with less simple syrup and more bitters to adjust for how sweet Ritual Zero Proof is.
Here's the recipe:
2 oz. Ritual Zero Proof Whiskey Alternative
¼ oz. of simple syrup
3 dashes Fee Brothers orange bitters
3 dashes Fee Brothers black walnut bitters
3 dashes Angostura bitters
Zest of orange
Even with less simple syrup, the old fashioned is a bit sweet.
But overall, it's excellent. It has a great, fatty mouthfeel. And the bitters bring out the whiskey flavors.
And the spice really kicks through at the end and lingers with you to slow down your pace.
Everyone was impressed with this mocktail. It's an excellent representation of the alcoholic version. And it's one of the better non-alc whiskey cocktails we've had.
We also mixed up a whiskey and soda and a whiskey and ginger... these weren't as impressive. The sweetness of the Whiskey Alternative dampened the experience. Although, once again, that spice was an interesting component.
We're excited to see how Ritual Zero Proof expands with Diageo now behind the brand. But for now, the brand's Gin and Whiskey Alternatives are a solid addition to anyone's zero-proof bars (as old fashioned fans, we lean toward the whiskey if you have to choose one).