The Negroni Story Continues

Plus a Pomologist's Life's Work and Liberty Never Tasted So Good

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Wotcha! I NEED YOUR HELP. There are six editions left before I celebrate the first anniversary of this newsletter. I would love to end the “year” with a tide of new subscribers. So I have a goal of getting 250 new subscribers to sign up before August 10.

How can you help? If you have enjoyed reading this newsletter and you know a friend, family member, colleague, or are part of a social group, sports club, book club, or anything somewhat relevant with a mailing list that may find these drink recommendations helpful please forward this email to them.

You’d be helping them find great non-alcoholic drinks. You’d be helping the NA beverage industry by getting these drinks in front of new customers and you’d be helping me to grow this project of mine.

250 new subscribers in six weeks. Think of three people and forward this email to them right now! Thank you!

 In this week’s edition: 

  • 📰 NAN: Non-alcoholic news my Nan would approve of!

  • 🍹 COCKTAIL: Lapo’s Negroni

  • 🍎 CIDER: Original Sin - White Widow Cider

  • 🍺 BEER: Stella Artois - Liberté

First time reading this? (Join here).

P.S. Should we pay full price for an NA version of a cocktail? Author and low-/no-alcohol cocktail expert Derek Brown shares his views.

Read time: 6 mins 54 secs


Nonalcoholic News my Nan would approve of!

  • 🍹 COCKTAIL: I’m looking forward to trying Free AF’s new Whisk#y Ginger. (link) 🇺🇸

  • 🍺 BEER: Three brand new NA beers from the equally brand new Runner’s High Brewery. (link) 🇺🇸

  • 🍹 COCKTAIL: A new flavor from Mocktail Club has just been announced. Look out for Bali Breeze! (link) 🇺🇸

  • 🏆 AWARDS: Guess which NA beers won gold, silver and bronze at the World Beer Cup this year? (link) 🇺🇸

  • 🍷 WINE: Supermarket chain, Aldi, is introducing it’s own 0% Pinot Grigio Blush in the U.K. (link) 🌍


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 cocktails, 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 Cocktail


  • Origin: Unknown. Could be Italy, could be the U.S.

  • Calories: 80

  • Sugar: 17g

  • Serving: 8 fl.oz.

  • ABV: 0%

  • Buy: • widely availble online • check your local bottle shops

  • Price: $19.99 (4-pack)

The ModSub thoughts: Much to my annoyance, I came across Negronis a little over three years before I gave up booze. My first encounter, bizarrely, was in a sushi restaurant in Syracuse, in southeastern Sicily. Nothing had looked particularly appealing on the drink menu, and I ordered one on a whim. One sip and I was smitten. I spent the next few hours elated at this treasure I had just stumbled upon, but also mildly irritated it had taken so long, given the hundreds, if not thousands, of bars I had frequented over the previous 30+ years. I later found out I was perhaps the last person on the planet to be aware of the cocktail.

The early origins of the cocktail are somewhat of a mystery. Common belief is that one Count Camillo Negroni, who regularly frequented Florence’s Caffé Casoni, asked for his Americano to be given a bit of oomph. The barman, Fosco Scarselli, duly obliged, swapping out the soda water for gin.

Others believe the true creator of the cocktail was, in fact, Frenchman Colonel Pascal Olivier Comte de Negroni, who 50 years earlier was fighting in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 and had served it to his fellow officers. His family members have letters to prove as much.

So it is quite fitting that when Lapo’s Negroni landed in the U.S. a couple of months back, it arrived with the same measure of mystery. The little I could find out was that Lapo’s is named after the barman at the landmark Henry’s Bar in Florence. The beverage company’s founders befriended the bartender as far back as 2017 and, believing that he made the best Negroni in town, decided, to the Florentine’s surprise, to name the drink after him.

Lapo’s Negroni comes in gorgeously designed 8oz ready-to-drink cans. The lightly carbonated cocktail delivers everything it is supposed to in a Negroni except, of course, the alcohol. The welcome herby bitterness is tamed by citrus sweetness and perhaps the faintest of earthy notes in the background.

What sets this apart from others I have tried is the viscous mouthfeel, so reminiscent of the original. While this was welcome, it's also likely to be due to the higher sugar content, which will be an issue for some.

Still, that aside, Lapo's is unquestionably a worthy addition to your drinks cabinet, especially if you are a Negroni fan. There’s competition out there for the best NA version of this classic cocktail, but Lapo’s Negroni should most undoubtedly be in the conversation. Cin cin!

How does Lapo’s describe their Negroni: Lapo’s Non Alcoholic Negroni was born in Florence, Italy’s most famous bar, where a smiling barman in a tuxedo – Lapo – serves the best negroni in town. This cocktail is perfectly bittersweet, with notes of juniper and bright citrus. It’s also lightly sparkling and “molto bitter.”

Learn more about Lapo’s Negroni at

NA Cider


  • New York, NY

  • Calories: 35

  • Sugar: Unknown (0g added)

  • Serving: 12 fl.oz.

  • ABV: 0.5%

  • Buy: • store locator • widely available

  • Price: $15.99 (6-pack)

The ModSub thoughts: Gidon Coll had his first pint of cider at the Bleeker Street Bar in New York in 1990. It was imported from England and was unpleasantly sweet. Over the next couple of years, he sampled other ciders whenever he came across them, but they were all geared toward a sweet-toothed consumer. He wondered why there were no dry ciders available in the U.S.

A friend smuggled him into the Columbia University library, where he learned about the rich traditions of cider-making in both the U.K. and later in the U.S. It may surprise you that in America, hard cider was far more popular than beer up until the mid-19th century. Many of the founding fathers, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, owned orchards that produced the fermented apple beverage.

Studying the industry from books turned into a hands-on mission to bring traditional cider-making back to the U.S. and, for Coll personally, to create that elusive pint of dry cider he was craving. Working with a winery in upstate New York, he created small batches of cider, which were duly tested on bar owners and friends in the East Village. Once perfected, he still faced the challenge of distributing a product that at the time was considered extremely niche. It was left to him to pound the pavement, lugging around crates on the subway and winning over bars one at a time.

Twenty-seven years later, Original Sin Hard Cider is sold across half the country and has garnered enormous respect from both the cider industry and consumers alike. In 2023, the company launched its first NA Cider, White Widow, a refreshing blackberry and apple cider with a perfectly muted sweetness balanced out by the inclusion of apple cider vinegar.

Last April, Coll added three more ciders to his non-alcoholic line—Widow’s Tea (lemon and black tea), Dragon Tea (dragonfruit), and Golden Widow (lemon)—all of which are available individually as well as in a 12-can variety pack.

I’ve been sipping away at the White Widow, and as I finish up this piece, I’m left with two thoughts. A little bit of awe at Gidon Coll’s quarter-century passion for apples and cider-making—he’s planted 150 varieties of apples across two acres on his family’s farm.

But also that summer is not summer without some cider in your glass. Go fill it with some NA Widows!

(Note to Gidon Coll, who may never read this: Any chance of an NA Newton Pippin?)

How does Original Sin describe White Widow: The White Widow is a blackberry cider made with 25% fruit juice, monk fruit (as a natural sweetener) and apple cider vinegar. This low calorie drink is full of flavor and has a perfect balance of tart and sweet.

Learn more about Original Sin at

NA beer


  • Leuven, Belgium

  • Calories: 39

  • Sugar: Unknown

  • Serving: 11.2 fl.oz.

  • ABV: 0.5%

  • Buy: Try your local supermarkets • Amazon • widely available online

  • Price: $10.99-$12.99

The ModSub thoughts: In 2021, Stella Artois introduced a non-alcoholic version of their famous lager. I stumbled upon a case of Liberté during a spring break trip to Tampa, FL, last year and practically did a dance in the aisle. 

"A pint of Stella, please, mate." How often have those words crossed my lips in the past? I was thrilled to see one of my all-time favorite light beers now available in a non-alcoholic version.

Back on the West Coast, it took me months to find it again. Even now, its distribution isn't as widespread as I'd hoped. Major supermarket chains seem to be the best bet for finding it. Surprisingly, it's still not common to see it in bars and restaurants, but hopefully that will change.

Liberté is a fantastic addition to the NA beer market, closely mimicking the original Stella. It boasts the same hoppy bitterness, subtle herbal and floral notes, and a pleasantly dry finish.

If you enjoy Heineken 0.0 or Budweiser Zero, give this one a try. I still do a little aisle dance whenever I find it on the shelves.

How does Stella Artois describe Liberté: Our brewmasters have taken 600 years of Belgian brewing heritage and combined it with our best, all-natural ingredients, to create an alcohol free lager that's bursting with flavor. With a pronounced hoppy bitterness, a crisp, clean and refreshing finish, and just 60 calories – without even a drop of alcohol – Stella Artois can now be savoured by everyone.

Learn more about Stella Artois at

One thing before you go. Here’s a great newsletter on fitness and nutrition that I think you should check out. There’s excellent advice on living a more healthy life in this weekly 5-minute read.

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