The non-alcoholic spirits brand Monday doesn’t make a faux tequila alongside their zero proof whiskey and gin. Instead, they opted to specifically make a dry mezcal. (As a refresher for anyone new to the site, all tequilas are mezcals, but not all mezcals are tequilas.)
It’s an interesting choice, one that certainly limits their marketing capabilities (since mezcal is less well-known) — but one that also opens up a lot more flavor choices for them to play with.
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 expanded their product line to include a whiskey, followed a couple years later by this mezcal.
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”. (Kind of of understandable, since this is basically their “secret sauce”.)
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, Natural Flavor, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Benzoate
Yeah… I feel like that “natural flavor” ingredient is doing a lot of the heavy lifting here.
What those natural flavors are, how they are added to the product, and what finishing processes may have taken place are not disclosed.
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 black background and shiny silver metallic lettering, stating the brand information with a stylish art deco flourish. That would make sense, since it was during prohibition that all legal alcohol sales were forbidden in the United States. And it was this era when the art deco style was most in vogue, so this would be as close as someone could legally get to a bottle of whiskey back then. (It also just looks great.)
First thing to note is that there’s a pale yellow flavor to the liquid. When most people think of a tequila or a mezcal they usually think of the blanco (unaged) version, which is clear and water white. In this case, the yellow tint signals that they might be going for more of a reposado take on the spirit — which is a smart play, as those flavors are more popular these days. It also helps to hide the less-than-crystal-clear appearance of the liquid, which is a bit cloudy from the additives.
On first sniff, this definitely smells more like a mezcal with a distinct smoky characteristic front and center, like the smoke coming off an incense burner. Around this, there is a bit of an herbal tone — like bay leaves, something green but still a bit more savory than the traditional fresh cut grass of agave. Add in a bit of ginger and that’s the whole party.
Taking a sip, what you smell is pretty much what you get. That smoke is strong without being overpowering, and makes me hopeful to see how it performs in a cocktail. There’s also a bit of lemon citrus that I didn’t see in the aroma, combined with the bay leaves and ginger, and that ginger is adding a ton of spicy kick to the liquid that I wasn’t expecting at first. I think that’s trying to simulate the alcohol burn, which honestly I could live without. I do appreciate that it is less painful and more tangy than other zero alcohol spirits, which all seem to use chili powder for that spicy kick.
The concern with adding some ice into the drink is that the flavors will get lost or drop out of the running. All of the stuff that’s in there when taken neat would be great to see in a cocktail, so we don’t want any degradation.
Unfortunately, I think most of the flavors have gotten a bit too diluted in this case and aren’t nearly as powerful as before.
The bay leaves are completely gone, and although the smoke, lemon citrus, and ginger still come through… they are significantly diminished. The flavor profile is slanted more towards the lemon and the ginger with the smoke as only a part player. I wouldn’t recommend this on the rocks.
As usual, I’m still using Cointreau in this cocktail even though this is a zero alcohol spirit. I want see how well it truly works as a 1:1 replacement for tequila, and the typical, traditional margarita recipe is the best way to do that.
I actually think that this makes a surprisingly good margarita. There are just enough of the herbal notes coming through, combined with the lemon citrus and the wisp of smoke, to make it very close to a good mezcal-based margarita. And the addition of that hit of ginger adds a spicy pop to the flavor profile that I’m really liking. It’s like a spicy margarita but without needing to add all the jalapenos.
I’m no closer to understanding exactly what goes into making this product, but in my opinion it works remarkably well as a tequila or mezcal alternative in cocktails. It’s pulling off some tricks that I haven’t seen in other non-alcoholic tequilas — specifically, the herbal notes and the appealing ginger spice. In my opinion, that’s what is putting this one over the 3/5 start mark. Either neat or in a cocktail, this works very nicely… just don’t try to sip it on the rocks.
A word of warning: this is, in fact, spicy. My wife (who, to be transparent, hates all spice and can detect a single red pepper flake in an entire bowl of soup) did not like the spicy components. I enjoyed it quite a lot, but your mileage may vary.
One minor thing that slightly annoys me is that the coloring doesn’t seem to match the flavor. Despite the pale yellow aspect, I didn’t really see any brown sugar or vanilla in the flavor profile (or at least any that I could detect). It’s a shame, as that might have made it just that much better.
|Monday Zero Alcohol Mezcal|
Produced By: MondayProduction Location: California, United States
Aging: No Age Statement (NAS)
Price: $42 / 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: 4/5
Herbal notes combined with tangy ginger and a touch of smoke to create a great option for spicy margaritas.