Pours Like Motor Oil, Tastes Like Opulence

Plus Al Capone's tipple and a 30-Second Cocktail

Wotcha! Welcome to all the new readers this week. Many of you came from Destiny Johnson’s great article on Oregonlive. For those of you who haven’t read it, you can here.

I’m typing away at this from D.C. where I’m attending the Mindful Drinking Fest—the largest gathering of NA drink industry folks in the country.

Next week’s newsletter will likely be a report on the weekend’s events. With 40 NA drinks vendors in the tasting hall, there’s going to be some good drinks to tell you about.

In this week’s edition: 

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

  • 🍺 BEER: AleSmith - NA Speedway

  • 🍹 COCKTAIL: Blind Tiger - Southside

  • 🍹 COCKTAIL: Grapefruit-Ginger Kombucha Cocktail

First time reading this? (Join here).


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.

Read time: 5 mins 54 secs


Non-Alcoholic News my Nan would approve of!

  • 🍹 SPIRITS: A new hemp-infused gin, Focus, debuted from To Be Honest Beverage Company during the hols. (link)

  • 🍺 BEER: Purported to be the first NA beer brewed in the state of Montana, Imagine Nation Brewing have launched Lupujus 0. (link)

  • 🍎 CIDER: Seattle’s Schilling Hard Cider’s Excelsior line has released it’s first NA cider with Ground Control 0.0. (link)

  • 🍺 BEER: For Heavy Music (Metal) lovers, Kittiepig are launching their first NA beer, the Saskaberry Blonde. (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 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 Beer


  • San Diego, CA

  • Calories: 75

  • Serving: 12 fl.oz

  • ABV: <0.5%

  • Buy: alesmith.com • store locator • widely available online

  • Price: $13.29 (6-pack)

The ModSub thoughts: Ever wondered how it feels to make a beer hailed as one of the world's best? I have no idea, but the folks at San Diego's AleSmith Brewing certainly do.

Speedway Stout was first brewed in 1997, but the recipe evolved after Peter Zien took over the reins at the brewery five years later. Richer in coffee flavor and an increased ABV to 12%, turned the stout into one of the most sort after beers in the country. 

Ticketing systems were employed as limited runs turned from lines round the block, to overnight camping outside the brewery to even fisticuffs in the parking lot. People would fly in from around the country to get their hands on the few cans available each year. Even today, Speedway is still the brewery’s most popular beer, sporning varietals aplenty that are as playfully creative as they are rabidly obsessed over. 

Lucky for us, AleSmith celebrated the holidays by releasing an NA version of Speedway Stout and it’s a such treat. Rich, deep coffee and chocolate flavors, with a viscous pour that looks like motor oil, pours like motor oil and tastes like the one of best stouts that money can buy. This malty goodness is so thick it momentarily leaves a brown oily sheen that slowly slides does the sides of the glass every time it is raised. 

I’m not sure who crowned the original “best beer in the world,” but there is no doubt in my mind, this NA version is knocking on the door of whomever gave out that award. 

How does AleSmith describes Speedway: This new dark brew boasts the same bold and complex flavor as our classic Speedway Stout. Crafted with the finest ingredients, and packed with notes of dark chocolate, espresso, and roasted malts, this beer is the perfect choice for those who want to enjoy the taste of a full-bodied brew, minus the alcohol.

Learn more about AleSmith at alesmith.com


The ModSub thoughts: Rebecca Styn, the creative force behind Room 33 Speakeasy in Erie, faced a daunting challenge familiar to all bar owners during the pandemic. With the bar's forced closure, she embraced change by pivoting to offer to-go food and nonalcoholic beverages. This shift posed a particular dilemma for a bar renowned for its focus on Prohibition-era cocktails.

Enter Blind Tiger – a clever solution that transformed this challenge into a thriving side business. Maintaining its dedication to Prohibition-era cocktails, Blind Tiger crafted alcohol-free versions of their most popular cocktails. In-house recipes paved the way for a successful Kickstarter campaign, bringing these delightful historic cocktails to restaurants, bars and homes across the country.

Crafted with natural and organic ingredients, Blind Tiger offers four iconic '20s cocktails – Bee’s Knees, Sidecar, Ward 8, and Southside – available in both bottles and cans.

My first experience of Blind Tiger’s cocktail line was the Southside, a nod to one of Al Capone's favourite tipples. I can see why! Lime and mint play about on the tastebuds, leading to a wonderful juniper flourish that leaves a long lasting impression.

What sets this mixer apart is its versatility – whether sipped neat with ice, paired with 2oz of Monday’s Zero Alcohol Gin, or mixed with tonic water and a pinch of salt (kudos to an Amazon reviewer for the latter suggestion), each variation is a treat. So make sure to add this to your bar cart.

You can go a long way with a smile. You can go a lot farther with a smile and a … Southside.* 

How does Blind Tiger describes Southside: The story goes Al Capone’s gang smuggled in a gin that was much harsher and less palatable. Creating cocktails with it required more ingredients, such as citrus fruit and sugar. The drink concocted apparently became very popular with Capone and his associates, and christened it the Southside. Ingredients: Filtered water, Cane Sugar, Lime Juice Concentrate, Natural Mint Extract, Juniper Berry Extract, Monkfruit, Spirulina Powder.

Learn more about Blind Tiger at blindtigerspiritfree.com

*Al Capone may or may not have said this.
NA Cocktail


  • Gina Homolka at SkinnyTaste

  • Calories: Unknown

  • Serving: 8 fl.oz. (1 serving)

  • ABV: 0%

  • Price: approximately $10 for 4 (8 fl.oz.) drinks

The ModSub thoughts: A couple of weeks ago, I found myself sifting through eight katrillion articles on the best NA cocktails for Dry January. As my eyes started to glaze over, one popped out at me.

I know that sometimes the “make-at-home” cocktails I post can be quite involved. So with you in mind, the simplicity of this one appealed to me. It’s easy peasy plus fruity, bitter, and spicy! What's not to love?

So, check out this Grapefruit Ginger Kombucha Cocktail from Gina Homolka at SkinnyTaste. It's just three ingredients and takes 30 seconds to make.


  • 4 fl.oz. of fresh pink grapefruit juice. Squeeze your own or grab a bottle of freshly squeezed from your local supermarket.

  • 4 fl.oz of ginger-lemon kombucha. If you don't have a favorite, you might want to experiment with different brands depending on whether you want a gentle kick from the ginger or a proper "alright then" kick.

  • Rosemary. Looks pretty and fills your taste buds with a lovely herby aroma before the other ingredients get there.

This is a great go-to cocktail that wins for simplicity and delivers some lovely strong flavors. However, I think the key to “success” with this drink is for you to experiment a little to find your preferred balance.

Two things I experimented with:

  1. I added half a teaspoon of freshly grated ginger to one pour for some extra zing.

  2. Try mixing in your favorite NA spirit like gin or rum. I added 1oz of Seedlip Grove 42, and it was a delicious twist on the drink.

Hit reply and let me know what worked for you.

How does SkinnyTaste describes their Grapefruit-Ginger Kombucha Cocktail: If you want a grown-up cocktail without the alcohol, you’ll love this healthy pink Grapefruit-Ginger Kombucha Mocktail! I love my cocktails, but I also like to take a break occasionally. It can be tough to find nonalcoholic cocktails that have complex flavors and feel sophisticated, which is why I love this simple kombucha mocktail. The kombucha adds zing and gut-health benefits, and the best part is no hangover the next day!

Learn more about SkinnyTaste at skinnytaste.com

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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