Bourbon, Beer and Blueberries

Plus Honey, I Made A Shrub!

Wotcha! This week’s drinks couldn’t be more different. Douglas Watters (Spirited Away, Dry Atlas) writes about one of his favourite Bourbon-style nonalcoholic whiskeys. I succumb to the hoppy delights of a New York IPA and I research cranberry cocktails only to find myself making a blueberry rosemary shrub. Another fun week in world of adult nonalcoholic drinks.

In this week’s edition: 

  • 📰 NAN - Nonalcoholic News my Nan would approve of!

  • 🍹 SPIRIT: Spiritless - Kentucky 74

  • 🍺 BEER: Good Time Brewing Co. - IPA

  • 🍷 SHRUB: Blueberry Rosemary Shrub

P.S. I’d be ever so grateful for a quick like and a follow on Instagram and LinkedIn. It sure does help the ‘ole algorithm elevator. Please and thank you.

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Read time: 6 mins 47 secs


Nonalcoholic News my Nan would approve of!

  • 🍺 BEER: Country star Walker Hayes and Athletic Brewing have put their heads together and come up with a Classic American Pale Ale called Fancy Like. (link)

  • 🍷 WINE: It looks like Oregon finally has its first nonalcoholic wine. Varum Vintners is launching Brut Zero. (link)

  • 🍋 LIQUEUR: Italy’s Bottega S.p.A. is close to releasing Limoncino 0.0 which means it shouldn’t be too long before we see it on this side of the pond. (link)

  • 🍹 COCKTAIL: Free Spirits Company have released a Margarita and Kentucky Mule. (link)

  • 🍷 WINE: Early Cabernet is a new wine from Kally. (link)

  • 🍺 BEER: Vancouver’s non-alc beer scene continues to blossom with new boys Dry Good Beer introducing not one but three new beers this week. (link)

  • 🍷 WINE: Philip Brandes, the man behind Bravus Brewing is now also the man behind wineø, with a Sparkling Rosé in a can, and a Chardonnay and Pinot Noir on its way. (link)

  • 🍹 COCKTAIL: There’s a new RTD Paloma from Ish. (link)


NA Drinks

In each edition of The Modern Substitute, ON THE BAR focuses on three drinks you should be on the look out for. We’ll give you a quick rundown of our thoughts on the drink, who makes it, where to buy it or, in the case of mocktails, how to make it.

Please note: due to popularity or limited runs, some drinks may be out of stock - please check with the beverage companies for updates.

NA Spirit


  • Austin, TX

  • Calories: 15

  • Sugar: 1g

  • Serving: 2 fl.oz. (12 servings per container)

  • ABV: 0.5%

  • Buy: • Amazon • Total Wine • widely available online

  • Price: $35.99

Douglas Watters: In recent years, there’s been a surge in the demand for non-alcoholic versions of classic spirits, and whiskey is no exception. Non-alcoholic whiskey is a novel creation designed to mimic the taste and experience of whiskey without the alcohol. Capturing the rich, oaky, and often caramel undertones of whiskey without alcohol is an art.

While it’s challenging to replicate the exact taste of alcoholic whiskey, some non-alcoholic whiskeys come close. These brands leverage natural flavorings, spices, and even smoked elements to recreate the warmth and depth associated with this beloved spirit. Quick tip: mixing non-alcoholic whiskeys in cocktails with a bit of sugar can increase their complexity as sugar carries flavor.

One of my personal favorites is Spiritless Kentucky 74, a Bourbon-style non-alcoholic whiskey known for its rich flavor profile. Whereas most whiskey alternatives combine the flavors of different types of alcoholic whiskeys, this is one of the very few Bourbon-specific whiskey alternatives (besides Cut Above Zero Proof Whiskey). Spiritless Kentucky 74 has clear Bourbon notes of oak, smoke, vanilla, and caramel. Plus, there’s a little pepper that adds a bit of pleasant heat.

You don’t have to be a mixologist to enjoy Spiritless Kentucky 74. Take their simple Old Fashioned recipe, for example. Just a few ingredients, including excellent bitts from All The Bitter, and you’re good to go.

P.S. If you’re looking for something to sip on the rocks, my wife Victoria is partial to their Spiced variant; here’s her video review.

Douglas Watters is Founder of Spirited Away, America’s first booze-free bottle shop, and Co-Founder of Dry Atlas, a media company focused on alcohol alternatives. Dry Atlas publishes a weekly newsletter full of non-alcoholic beverage news, insights, and recs; you can subscribe here.

How does Spiritless describe Kentucky 74: Kentucky 74 delivers a high-quality, smooth finish, underpinned by familiar notes of caramel, vanilla, and oak. 

Learn more about Spiritless at

NA Beer


The ModSub thoughts: Born in Northern Ireland and raised in Scotland, Mikey McFerran has worked in and around bars for most of his adult life. As a student, he spent evenings collecting glasses at Waxy O’Connor’s, gradually working his way up to head bartender at the Glasgow pub. In his mid-twenties, he moved to London before a cousin persuaded him to try his luck in New York.

After several years working in various bars, he was finally in a position to co-found his own establishment, and in 2017, The Spaniard opened its doors. Primarily a whiskey bar, the space reflects the combination of experiences McFerran gathered in Glasgow, Belfast, London, and New York.

In 2021, his son was born with a congenital heart defect, a pivotal moment that led McFerran to reconsider what life would be like for his son in the bar scene's social setting. With the nonalcoholic beer market beginning to flourish, he saw an opportunity to promote an inclusive environment—one his son could enjoy later in life.

Last year, Good Time Brewing Company debuted with its signature IPA and later introduced two more beers—a Pilsner and a Wheat beer. The IPA, the only one of the three I’ve tried, is worth seeking out.

It’s a hop-heavy, West Coast hazy-style IPA that also retains characteristics of a New England IPA.  If hoppy beers are your thing, this beer has your name written on it. The beer delivers a robust hop aroma from the moment the tab pops on the can, featuring hints of tropical citrus and a persistent bitterness from start to finish.

If you live in New York or are visiting any time soon, Good Time’s beers are available in over 70 locations across the city and surrounding boroughs. For everyone else, this IPA is well worth ordering online—a 6-pack or two direct from the brewery would be a very wise move.

How does Good Time Brewing Co. describe their IPA: A 6-pack of our signature non alcoholic IPA, dry-hopped for easy sipping day through night. A variety of barley, wheat, and oat malts provide a well-rounded backbone upon which the hops can shine. Enjoy this healthy convergence of an East-coast and West-coast style IPA.

Learn more about Good Time Brewing Co. at


  • All The Bitter

  • Calories: 90 (House Red)

  • Sugar: 1 cup (unknown as a per serving measurement)

  • Serving: Lots!

  • ABV: 0%

The ModSub thoughts: I must admit, I'm feeling quite proud of myself this week. I started off searching for cocktail recipes to use up a bottle of RW Knudsen’s Pure Cranberry juice and ended the week by making my very first shrub—a Blueberry Rosemary Shrub, no less. For those of you further along in this journey, you may be thinking whoop-dee-doo, but I'm pretty excited about it.

As I was looking into cranberry juice recipes, I just couldn’t find anything that stood out. Most were dull or holiday-themed. So, I reached out to Ian at All The Bitter to see if he had anything up his sleeve. He pointeded me to a "wine" recipe called House Red on the ATB website. Within seconds, I had ditched the cranberry cocktail recipes in favour of this delicious looking wine alternative. The recipe calls for the inclusion of a Blueberry Rosemary Shrub and the option of making your own. 

Well say no more. I checked my pantry, dashed to the store for a few missing ingredients, and 90 minutes later, I was staring at a concoction resembling something you might find on the edge of a somewhat dried-out pond in late summer. After refrigerating it for nearly 48 hours—twice the recommended 24—I strained and bottled it. I have to say, the fragrance was incredible—a mix of fruit and herb, tethered with a sour acridity.

Mixed in with the cranberry juice, cold black tea and a few additional shakes of some ATB Aromatic Bitters and House Red does indeed play the lead role as a wine alternative. Let’s be clear, you won’t mistake it for wine, but it has a well-rounded flavor that will leave you more than content.

As the recipe suggests, the cranberry juice is a substitute for red verjus or tart cherry juice and I’d love to experiment with the different flavors that black tea can bring to the mix. Equally I think next time I will invest in a higher quality apple cider to see what that does to the taste.

After all the cocktail-making fun with the House Red, you're left with a jar full of the shrub, which can stay fresh in your refrigerator for a couple of months. Add tonic water or sparkling water and a squeeze of lemon, and you’ll be treating yourself for weeks to come.

Blueberry Rosemary Shrub recipe is here below the House Red.

*All The Bitter produce the most fabulous zero proof bitters and have one of the best recipe collections on their website. If you are planning to build a nonalcoholic bar, this company should, unquestionably, be part of your plans. 

If you enjoyed this edition of The Modern Substitute then please forward it to a friend who might be interested in NA drinks.

Cheers! See you next week!

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