Review: Bar None, Coca-Cola’s Entry Into Non-Alcoholic Cocktails
Covers Products: Bellini Spritz, Sparkling Sangria, Spiced Ginger Mule, Dry Aged Cider
Bar None is a line of naturally flavored beverages designed as non-alcoholic alternatives to classic cocktails. Their first four flavors include Sparkling Sangria, Dry Aged Cider, Bellini Spritz, and Spiced Ginger Mule.
The products are packaged in amber 12 oz. glass bottles and have an aesthetic reminiscent of a craft beer. The labels are clean and polished, with a white, black, and metallic gold label that has a clear background. Placed along the bottom of the label in a small font, the “non-alcoholic” callout is not something that is screaming for your attention.
Rather than just honing in on one type of cocktail, Bar None is crossing into many different categories for inspiration. When it comes to their alcoholic counterparts, the consumer of one of these drinks (e.g. a consumer that drinks Bellinis) is probably not the same as for some of the others (e.g. a Dry Aged Cider).
In the case of each of these products, you need some familiarity with the drink it is emulating to really get a sense for what the brand has created. Clearly, the biggest challenge for these products is creating a flavor that is somewhat similar to the alcohol that would be in the full test version.
Let’s take a look at each flavor:
Spiced Ginger Mule (90 calories; 16g sugar) -- This version of a ginger mule, which is traditionally a gin-based riff on a mojito, features some interesting ingredients including kombucha, apple cider vinegar (ACV), and ginger and lime juices. It actually translates quite nicely into non-alcoholic form. It has some pleasant ginger spice, plenty of lime juice, modest sweetness, and some tang from the added kombucha and ACV. This is our favorite of the bunch.
Sangria (130 calories; 22g sugar) -- This variety has the highest juice, caloric, and sugar content of the bunch. Featuring grape juice and red wine vinegar (along with natural flavors), it does a pretty nice job of recreating the wine flavor of sangria. While sangria isn’t normally carbonated, it works pretty well in this case. If there’s anything lacking about this product, it’s a bit too sweet and it’s missing the note of brandy or liqueur that normally helps bind the flavors in sangria together.
Dry Aged Cider (70 calories, 15g sugar) -- Of the four flavors, this is the one that we enjoy the least, both in terms of the flavor and what it brings (or doesn’t bring) to the brand. Starting with flavor, it has heavy notes of apple and vinegar, which, combined with the fact it’s sweet and not dry and lacks the yeasty note of a cider, makes it drink more like a shrub. Furthermore, this SKU is trying to emulate a pretty niche drink, so it’s hard to imagine someone seeking a non-alcoholic version.
Bellini Spritz (70 calories; 18g sugar) -- This riff on the classic blend of Prosecco and peach is pretty close to the real thing, aside from the white wine vinegar being a bit too present at the drink’s finish. As a result, this product, much like the Dry Aged Cider, drinks almost like a shrub.
Taking everything into consideration, we wonder if a slightly different approach to the packaging -- specifically getting out of the beer/soda bottle that it’s in now -- would help with the sensory experience of these products.
All four of Bar None’s initial flavors are thoughtfully formulated, well-executed, and unique and complex in their flavor profiles. However, there’s still some work to do, both in flavor and packaging, to get these products to the point where they look, feel, and drink like they could be interchangeable with theirs alcoholic counterparts.