Welcome to Like A Virgin, a column in which we recommend a different zero-ABV drink each week. They’re not “near beers,” they’re not “mocktails”—they’re delicious beverages that anyone and everyone should try at least once. Got an idea for a future Like A Virgin column? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I taste test a lot of beverages for this column of mine, and I only write about the ones I love. But I have to admit that I definitely love some a little bit more than others. Today, I am thrilled to introduce you to my new favorite: Three Spirit, a line of non-alcoholic botanical spirits that are unlike anything I’ve ever tasted before.
I admit that I allow my general beverage enthusiasm to spiral into evangelist territory whenever I taste something that is not trying to replicate familiar, boozy flavors in a sort of one-to-one replacement. When an NA beverage instead chooses to shoot for the moon and exist as its own, atypical thing, I get extra excited. For far too long our alcohol-centric society has clipped the wings of those who wished to soar to unexplored lands, depriving us of fun new flavor combinations. Three Spirit is not meant only for those who abstain entirely (such as myself), nor is it a consolation prize for people who, for one reason or another, are avoiding alcohol. Three Spirit is meant for —and should be enjoyed by—everybody.
The name Three Spirit comes from the fact that there are, well, three spirits in the product line, each with its own unique flavor and purpose. For day drinking and generally exciting times there is Livener, an energetic botanical spirit imbued with pick-me-up ingredients like green tea, Siberian and Panax ginseng, and caffeinated guayusa and Ilex guayusa leaves. Sipped on its own Livener is sweet and syrupy, rich with flavors of red berries and tart pomegranate, ending with a mild peppery burn at the back of the throat. Both the bottle, and I, suggest you drink it with a mixer, though keep it simple; you want to dilute it, not obscure it. I found tonic water to be good, club soda even better, and ultra-fizzy Topo Chico to be best.
Straight out of the bottle, Three Spirit’s Social Elixir is, quite frankly, peculiar, but when a beverage is trying to redefine a genre, “peculiar” is perhaps the highest compliment you can bestow upon it. Social Elixir delivers a blaring cacophony of unexpected notes—with enough concentration, I can somewhat pick out midnight-dark chocolate, ripe red cherries, and hints of wood, but that’s barely scratching the surface—and also delivers a blissful, tranquil feeling thanks to the inclusion of lion’s mane mushroom, tulsi, and other calming adaptogens. I felt no mental haze nor loss of control (a concern for a person in recovery), but I did feel my muscles let go of all the tension they’d been holding, and found the throes of existence slightly less irritating than usual. This, too, is a spirit that demands to be mixed simply, and for that I suggest ginger ale, which transforms it into something you’d gladly pay $15 for at a swanky cocktail lounge.
Finally, there is Nightcap, which is so extraordinary, I don’t even know where to begin. As the name suggests it’s meant to help put a long, hard day to bed, and is infused with popular (and effective!) sleepytime assistants like ashwagandha and valerian root. It tastes like a phenomenal, singular entity, exquisitely balancing flavors I’d never thought to put together before: there’s dark maple syrup and hops, anise and black pepper, and all manner of mysterious notes fluttering in between. But the thing I love most about Nightcap is the ritual it represents. It’s the sort of thing you want to swirl around in a snifter like fortified wine or a prohibitively expensive brandy, a beverage to enjoy sitting by the fireplace in a tufted leather chair, luxuriating in your finest robe as the clock ticks toward midnight. It should be enjoyed straight or on the rocks, in a quiet, comfortable place, sipped slowly and appreciatively. True to the name, Nightcap is a perfect nightcap, just as Three Spirit’s three spirits are all worth treating yourself to.