Zero-Proof Tequila Exists, and It’s the Secret to Mocktails That Actually Taste Like the Real Deal
- Value: 18/20
- Aroma: 14/20
- Quality: 19/20
- Aesthetics: 20/20
- Flavor: 18/20
Mocktail margaritas are almost always a disappointment. When I was pregnant, I tried every recipe I could find online for my baby shower, and they all either tasted like straight lime juice (super tart and bitter) or toothache-inducing limeade-like sour mix. I was convinced it couldn’t be done, so when I heard that there was an alcohol-free tequila out there that scored a whopping 94 points from the Beverage Tasting Institute for how closely it tastes like the real deal…I was still skeptical. I’d been burned too many times before, but after trying a bottle of Ritual Zero Proof Tequila Alternative, I’m rethinking my stance on mock margs—and happy hour in general. Here’s what you should know before trying it yourself.
It Has the “Burns So Good” Taste of Tequila
At first glance, Ritual Zero Proof Tequila Alternative could pass for actual tequila. It has the amber color of an añejo tequila, with sleek packaging that could rival Casamigos (and look damn good on your bar cart). But one whiff, and you’ll notice something’s off. The scent is more like kombucha—a little tangy and fermented-smelling—though you shouldn’t let that deter you. A straight shot tastes a little like water at first, then the fiery taste of tequila comes in, complete with a peppery burn at the end that will make you feel like you legitimately just took a shot. It’s unreal (and it’s likely due to the addition of black peppercorn and capsicum fruit).
In a margarita, it has just the slightest smoky, grassy flavor to offset simple syrup and lime juice. The end result is a very satisfying mocktail, though I’ll be honest: Hardcore margarita fans will likely notice that it’s just a little bit more peppery than they’re used to.
It’s Zero-Calorie, Gluten-Free and Low in Sugar
After a few sips, I had to wonder: What’s in this stuff, anyway?! Mostly filtered water, cane sugar, citric acid and natural flavors—in addition to black peppercorn and capsicum fruit, the brand lists flavors like blue agave flower, lime, guava, charred oak and green bell pepper. (More on the ingredients here.) As a result, it fits into a variety of lifestyles, whether you’re avoiding gluten, trying to stick to low-sugar drinks or on a low-carb diet.
The Bottom Line
I won’t sugarcoat things: It’s not a perfect dupe—the scent takes some getting used to, that’s for sure—but it’s pretty close. And, at $27 per 750ml bottle, it’s on par with buying alcohol, but not so exorbitantly expensive that it’s hard to swallow, should you decide to host a booze-free Zoom happy hour. Plus, there’s no hangover. I’ll raise a glass to that.
Oh, and PS—If your drink of choice involves gin or whiskey and you’re trying to avoid alcohol, Ritual makes alternatives for those too.
The PureWow100 is a scale our editors use to vet new products and services, so you know what's worth the spend—and what's total hype. Learn more about our process here.