Weekend Sip: Want to get a jump start on Dry January? Toast the New Year with this nonalcoholic bubbly.

The bottle

Lyre’s Classico Grande, $18.95

The back story

In recent years, the movement known as Dry January — in which folks avoid all alcoholic beverages during the first month of the year — has taken off. For that matter, so has the whole concept of mocktails and nonalcoholic distilled drinks (as in “gin” without the booze). In short, we’ve become a very temperance-minded world.

But what if you want toast the New Year in a sober way, but still have your bottle of bubbly? Enter Lyre’s Classico Grande.

Yes, this is a sparkling beverage that mimics the alcoholic kind (say, Champagne or prosecco) — but without the alcohol. Mark Livings, Lyre’s co-founder and chief executive, says his company, which also offers nonalcoholic “homages” to gin, bourbon, tequila, rum and even absinthe, was the result of three years of product development, testing and sorting out the business strategy. Lyre’s launched in 2019.

So, how do you make a bubbly without the booze? And wouldn’t such a drink just be called … soda? Livings insists that Lyre’s Classico Coda isn’t soda — “it’s something entirely new,” he says. He explains that the company uses a “proprietary method” of production that involves arresting fermentation of grapes. The result, he insists, is a drink with “the typical ‘wine making’ notes we’re looking for.” In addition, Lyre layers in natural essences, extracts and fruit acids to enhance the sip’s flavor profile, he says.

The product has taken off since its release in 2020, with Livings saying that Lyre has sold more than 100,000 cases to date. The company is “struggling to keep up” with demand, he notes.

What we think about it

We were prepared to make cracks aplenty about a nonalcoholic Champagne (or “Champlain,” as one of our colleagues referred to it). But guess what? This thing is freaking delicious. Livings is right in that’s it’s not like soda. Nor is it like sparkling apple cider — a traditional go-to nonalcoholic New Year’s sip. Rather, this is a somewhat drier, more deftly conceived beverage — slightly sweet, but with hints of what Livings rightly calls a certain “yeasty breadiness.”

Of course, Lyre’s Grande Classico doesn’t taste exactly like a sparkling wine — and the bottle is actually supposed to mimic a prosecco, not Champagne, presentation, according to Livings. The real-deal beverage — we bought a budget prosecco for the sake of comparison — has a bit more dryness and, naturally, an alcoholic kick. But Grande Classico holds its own as a grown-up beverage of sorts. And if you’re looking to begin the New Year with a “pop,” it should be noted that it comes with a cork and opens just like a traditional bottle of alcoholic bubbly.

How to enjoy it

Livings says Grande Classico pairs well with seafood, cheese, cured meats and fruit. But we think it’s fine on its own for an end-of-2021/beginning-of-2022 toast. Happy New Year!

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