Low alcohol cocktails have certainly hit the mainstream, and a new Canadian based spirit is certainly hoping that trend is here to stay.
Hand-crafted in small batches out of the Niagara Region in Ontario, 18.8 Vodka and 18.8 Gin are precisely 18.8 percent alc./vol. (ABV) so Canadians can enjoy the smooth taste and quality of traditional vodka and gin with less than half the alcohol and calories compared to standard spirits currently available on the market.
Low, and no alcohol cocktails have been on the steady rise over the last few years, with many prominent bars and lounges creating entire cocktail menus to cater to this category. We even predicted back in 2019 that low ABV cocktails would rise in popularity as part of annual cocktail predictions.
One of the biggest challenges low, or no, ABV spirits face is replicating their boozier cousins without sacrificing the taste. It’s no easy feat, but it’s something the 18.8 hopes they have solved.
18.8 Vodka is a versatile vodka with a subtle hint of vanilla. There is a small discernible difference between 18.8 and a standard bottle of vodka, but for most drinkers that difference will be minimal. In fact, because most vodka ends up in a cocktail, the end result means you won’t notice the difference at all.
Launched in-stores earlier this year, 18.8 Vodka is currently available at select liquor stores in Manitoba, Ontario, Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia. Pricing varies by province, ranging from $24.99 to $27.75 for a 750mL bottle.
18.8 Gin blends juniper and elderflower with a hint of spice and citrus; it lands on the sweeter side with the elderflower coming off as the dominant flavour. Dry gin drinkers might find it a bit sweeter than they are used to. Of both bottles, the gin was easily the one that felt farthest away from the boozier versions, but again, in a cocktail that practically disappears.
Launched in select stores this July, 18.8 Gin is available at select LCBO stores across Ontario and retails for $29.95 for a 750mL bottle.
For those in the Toronto area interested in trying out the new spirits, they can visit the low-alcohol cocktail patio pop up 18.8 #SummerofChoice at stackt market, running from July 29 through September 27. Reservations can be made via Open Table on the stackt market website; space for walk-ins also available.