As we continue exploring the non-alcoholic gin market, we’re heading back to revisit a brand whose zero alcohol whiskey we tried and reviewed last year. In fact, we seem to have done this backwards — the brand started by making a gin, and only added whiskey much later, but we’ve reviewed their products in reverse order. So today we’re going to try out the product that launched their business: the Monday Zero Alcohol Gin.
The idea for this line of non-alcoholic spirits reportedly started on a Sunday. Co-founder Chris Boyd was out celebrating his birthday with some friends at a bar, sipping some delicious gin, when halfway through the night he switched to water. Asked about the decidedly non-celebratory shift in his drink selection, Chris reportedly replied “because tomorrow is Monday and I have sh!t to do, and I want to do that sh!t well”. That night sparked the idea to create a line of delicious but non-alcoholic spirits that could be enjoyed all night Sunday without impacting Monday morning, and together with his friend Ben Acott they set out to make their dream a reality.
The pair started with creating a non-alcoholic gin, working with local distillers in Los Angeles to try and come up with just the right concoction. Once they had the alchemy perfected, they launched a Kickstarter campaign in October 2019 to fund their initial production run. Two years later, they are now starting to expand their product line to include a whiskey.
There is almost no information about what is inside this bottle. I reached out to the team behind Monday to try and find out, but the response I got was essentially “we aren’t comfortable releasing that information”. So we’re going to have to go off what’s on the label.
As this isn’t an alcoholic product, it has to comply with the usual FDA labeling requirements. Which means all of the ingredients are listed on the label. In this case here’s the full list:
Natural Spring Water, Monk Fruit Extract, Natural Flavors, Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate (preservative), Xanthan Gum, Locust Bean Gum, Natural Juniper Extract, Natural Coriander Seed Extract, Natural Cucumber Extract.
This claims to have been made in a distillery and, especially with gin, I could see distillation being a useful step. The oils and compounds in the aromatic components can still be expressed and captured in the same way as a traditional spirit. But the details of how they are doing it (other than being produced “at a distillery”) are not disclosed, leaving us to guess.
The bottle itself here isn’t really remarkable. It’s a standard design for small distilleries: a short fat base, straight walls, a quick shoulder and a short neck, all capped off with a wood and cork stopper. That’s not to say it’s a bad design — I like it quite a lot. It’s just not unique.
What is somewhat unique is the label. It takes up pretty much all the real estate on the bottle’s surface with this card table green background and shiny metallic lettering, stating the brand information with a stylish art deco flourish. That would make sense, since prohibition meant that legal alcohol sales were forbidden in the United States while the art deco style was in vogue, so this would be as close as someone could legally get to a bottle of whiskey back then. It also just looks cool.
The very first thing you’ll notice is that this liquid is cloudy. Very cloudy. I’d almost call it a “milky” color, which is usually the sign of a faulty spirit. But since this isn’t alcohol we’re dealing with, instead it’s just an indicator of the other elements that have been added to their water.
On first sniff, this seems to be dead on for a gin. The juniper “Christmas tree” notes are present and have the right tone — not too pine-y, and not too loud. There’s also a good bit of lime in the aroma, a hair of coriander, and I could even smell a touch of the cucumber. If you close your eyes, it might almost remind you of the cucumber water that you sometimes see at a spa.
Taking a sip, though, there’s no possible way that this could be intended to be sampled all on its own. This is undrinkable without a mixer.
The flavor starts off light and almost watery, with a touch of juniper and coriander being the primary flavors. But then it seems like a massive hit of citric acid jumps in with a lime flavor that overpowers everything else and leaves an incredibly bitter taste in your mouth. From there, I pretty much couldn’t taste anything else.
With alcoholic spirits, you usually find that the addition of a bit of ice helps to temper any bitterness that might be in the glass. Thankfully, that’s what happens here as well. The ice has largely removed — but not completely eliminated — most of the acidic bitterness in here.
At this point, it tastes very much like a flat, heavy-on-the-lime gin & tonic. This faux gin is actually doing a good job with the flavors, providing just enough juniper, coriander, and even some orange peel it seems to give the drink some life. The citric acid and lime component might still be a little shout-y for my tastes, but this ain’t bad.
Here’s what made me concerned about a Negroni: not only is this non-alcoholic gin already bitter from the citric acid, but one of the main components of this cocktail (the Campari) is also extremely bitter. So we have two bitter components in here, and the vermouth is way too outmatched to balance them… setting us up for an extremely bitter experience.
And that’s exactly what we get here. I went back and added another equal part of simple syrup to tone this thing down — the bitterness is way more than I’d want to experience in a cocktail. But once things are balanced, now there are no gin flavors peeking through to make up for it. This really is just a glass of bitterness with no redeeming qualities.
Fizz (Gin & Tonic)
My biggest concern with a gin & tonic, especially with a light gin (as most non-alcoholic gins are), is that the gin flavors might get washed out and eliminated with the added tonic water. It’s a lot to contend with, and ideally you’d still be able to see all the colors of the gin in your cocktail.
In this specific case, I think this does a slightly below average job compared to an alcoholic gin, but that said it seems to be on par for a good “fake gin” offering. The juniper and the coriander spice are shining through, but there’s still a touch of bitterness that sticks around at the end as a result of the over-balanced citric acid component.
There are some things I like in here. I like that there’s a good hit of juniper both in the aroma and the flavor, and I like that there are some other accompanying flavors that you’ll typically see in a good gin. I like that they also don’t seem to have gone for any additional spices or artificial “heat” added to the product to try and mimic the alcohol burn, because that usually seems to end in disaster. And I like that, with a touch of ice and tonic water, this seems to be a pretty good gin substitute.
The problem comes in just about every other way. There’s way too much citric acid in here, which makes drinking it neat almost unbearable. And even on ice, it’s still a big component. It doesn’t make a good Negroni, and I have similar concerns about bitterness in a Tom Collins.
Tallying it all up, I’d say this is a middle-of-the-road offering when it comes to artificial gin. Some good, some bad… but still not as good as the real thing.
|Monday Zero Alcohol Gin
Produced By: MondayProduction Location: California, United States
Aging: No Age Statement (NAS)
Price: $40 / 750 ml
Product Website: Product Website
All reviews are evaluated within the context of their specific spirit classification as specified above. Click here to check out similar spirits we have reviewed.
Overall Rating: 3/5
A ton of citric acid and lime flavor makes this really only good for a G&T — hold the extra lime.