by David Klemt

ABV: Does it Have to Be All or Nothing?

by David Klemt

Quarter Proof Light Gin bottle and cocktail

In the discussion of alcohol, it seems to be an all-or-nothing topic: spirits and drinks are either full-proof or zero-proof.

Innovations in the space take two paths. There are brands like Seedlip that create alcohol-free spirits using botanicals, herbs and other ingredients. Resulting products are original creations with unique flavor profiles.

Another path is taken by brands such as Lyre’s. Rather than creating entirely new spirits, these producers craft alcohol-free that mimic their full-proof counterparts. For example, Lyre’s vast range includes a zero-proof bourbon and rum.

When it comes to drink builds, things get a little deeper. Yes, the all-or-nothing approach still applies to a point. Obviously, there are standard and high-proof cocktails. And yes, there are alcohol-free, zero-proof cocktails, also known as “mocktails.”

However, there’s also a third approach: low-ABV cocktails. Two popular build techniques are:

  • making low-proof liqueurs and wines the stars in Spritzers and other drinks; and
  • reverse cocktails.

When the conversation around lower-proof cocktails first gained steam, Spritzers, Fizzes and other options were brought to the forefront.

Then came the reverse cocktails, which I’ll explain briefly using a Reverse Martini build:

Let’s say your traditional recipe calls for two ounces of gin, a half-ounce of sweet vermouth (we can fight about this some other time), and a dash of orange bitters. To build the Reverse Martini, half the gin, quadruple the sweet vermouth, and keep the bitters the same.

Crafting reverse cocktails isn’t an overly complex process. But what if there was a third entry in the full-proof versus zero-proof battle?

Quarter Proof

It turns out, there is another path those seeking to consume lower-proof cocktails can take.

As the brand Quarter Proof says (or asks), “Who said it had to be all or nothing?” As the name implies, this brand intends to craft spirits that ring in at a quarter of the proof of their traditional counterparts.


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The brand’s first product, G/N, is produced in the same manner as full-proof gin: copper pot distillation. Like traditional gin, G/N is made with juniper berries.

However, because the resulting liquid is just 12-percent ABV and not 37.5 percent, European law says it can’t be designated “gin.” So, Quarter Proof got creative with the name.

Quarter Proof G/N is like a full-proof London Dry Gin in every way—aroma, flavor profile, mouthfeel, finish—save alcohol content. Along with juniper berry, expect coriander, sweet orange, and grapefruit on the nose and palate.

This is an intriguing development in the world of spirits and I’m eager to see what Quarter Proof crafts next. “Light spirits” produced to deliver the full drinking experience with moderation from the ground up are a compelling option.

Image: Quarter Proof