F&W Game Changer: No & Low

The booze-free shop making nonalcoholic bottles more accessible and exciting.

No and Low
Photo: Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Melissa Gray / Prop Styling by Christine Keely

A rocks glass slowly fills with amber bourbon, a spoonful of simple syrup, orange bitters, and a slender orange peel. It's a classic Old Fashioned — and it's entirely booze free. A few years ago, this scene would be nothing more than a non-alcoholic fantasy. But advancing dealcoholization technology and forward-thinking mixologists are paving a brave new world of beverages. Teetotalers and imbibers alike are getting in on the trend: Non-alcoholic beverage sales increased 33% to $331 million in the last year, according to NielsenIQ. And thanks to booze-free bottle shops like No & Low, it's never been easier to stock the bar cart.

READ MORE: Food & Wine Game Changers: 16 People and Companies Changing the Way We Eat and Drink

Founded by Massimo and Louis Borrelli, the online shop opened in October 2020. The Borrelli brothers may have grown up in a Canadian-Italian family business that included wine-making, but they became fascinated with the growing non-alcoholic products space a few years ago. At first their family was skeptical, so the brothers took to TikTok to share their recipes and gauge interest. The comments started flowing in, ranging from, "Why don't you just drink water?" to "Where can I buy these products?" Then their n/a old fashioned recipe racked up over 6 million views.

"The foundation of our business, in the sense of organic reach, is a testament to how much demand is out there in the whole non-alcoholic category," Louis Borrelli said.

The site's offerings aim to be as diverse as many traditional liquor shops. Looking for an alcohol-free take on classic spirits? Wilfred's Bittersweet Aperitif plays on Aperol without the alcohol, while Kentucky 74 provides a booze-free bourbon. Some of No & Low's most compelling products offer something entirely new: Adrift from Pentire enlists classically English botanicals like rock samphire and Cornish sea salt for a coastal non-alcoholic spirit that tastes like ocean waves hitting against rocks. Noted gin brand AMASS even offers Riverine, which layers traditional gin botanicals like juniper and coriander with sumac, cardamom, and mint, for a decidedly fresh sip. (AMASS founder Morgan McLachlan was a Food & Wine Drinks Innovator of the Year in 2022.)

No & Low has even released their very own product that's true to family tradition: a non-alcoholic sparkling Chardonnay. The Borrelli brothers spent a year tasting grapes and researching dealcoholizers to find a process that would remove alcohol but not flavor complexity. The result? A dry, gently sparkling Spanish wine with big Cava energy. Now the search is on for what they call the "non-alcoholic world's holy grail": a full-bodied red wine.

You don't need alcohol to connect with someone.

"I think we've helped people understand you don't need alcohol to connect with someone or get into mixology," Borrelli said. "People have said there is a placebo effect when they drink these n/a cocktails, but I think we give too much credit to alcohol in the first place. You were having a good time sharing a moment with your friends."

Beyond the digital walls of No & Low, booze-free bottle shops with brick-and-mortar locations are popping up all over the country; they're providing sober programming and events in addition to a seriously stocked selection. Here are five of Borrelli's brick-and-mortar favorites:

Minus Moonshine (Brooklyn, New York)

Owner Apryl Electra Storms opened the shop in 2021 to share alcohol alternatives with their Brooklyn community, but the bottle shop also goes big on "potions" rich in functional botanicals like CBD, kava kava, and caffeine. Not sure where to start? Check out Three Spirit's Social Elixir. The bittersweet beverage taps natural mood boosters like adaptogens, caffeinated yerba mate, and lion's mane mushrooms, which is thought to promote brain function and has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine.

Sipple (Houston, Texas)

Come to Texas's first n/a bottle shop for the CBD seltzer and golden ales, but stay for the community. Owners Danny and Helenita Frounfelkner are on a mission to shift the conversation from "why aren't you drinking?" to "what are you drinking?" Their store is a hub for the sober-curious, hosting everything from virtual weekly interviews with makers to in-store beer tastings and even a pop-up at nearby Axelrad Beer Garden.

The Open Road (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)

Owner Mel Babitz started The Open Road as a pop-up at Creative Coffee & Supply, but now it's a full-blown bottle shop with over a 100 non-alcoholic beverages available for in-store or online purchase. The selection includes aromatic teas, bitter Ghia aperitifs, and even Fungtn beers brewed in the United Kingdom with adaptogenic mushrooms like reishi and chaga.

Soft Spirits (Los Angeles, California)

Los Angeles' first non-alcoholic bottle shop is located right on Sunset Boulevard. Owner Jillian Barkley has stoked the airy store with hometown brands like Optimist Drinks, which riffs on classic spirits using flavor profiles inspired by iconic L.A.-adjacent neighborhoods like Venice Beach, Topanga Canyon, and the High Desert.

Sèchey (Charleston, South Carolina)

Founder Emily Heintz launched Sèchey as an online retailer before unveiling a brick-and-mortar shop — the first of its kind in Charleston, South Carolina. The Tiffany blue walls are lined with aperitif-inspired canned seltzers from Casamara Club, herbaceous Seedlip spirits, and custom blended soy wax candles. Don't miss Teddy, the adorably fluffy shop dog.

Meet the 2022 Food & Wine Game Changers

Alexis Nikole Nelson | Bento Box | Chintan Pandya and Roni Mazumdar | Dwyane Wade | Ghetto Gastro | Jenny Dorsey | Momofuku Packaged Goods | No & Low | OXO | Prime Roots | Patagonia Provisions | Sanzo | Stephen Satterfield | World Central Kitchen | Yannick Benjamin

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