Dry January? Not Too Sure Now, To Be Honest! – No doubt, like many me, you started 2021 with good intentions: eat healthily, drink less, take more exercise and so on…Well, I don’t know about you, but the announcement of another lockdown has certainly set my planned ‘Dry January’ back a few paces! My ‘Dry’ is now more likely to include dry white wine, dry gin or a dry Martini. But in anticipation of being good, I had already done a fair amount of research anyway, so I am happy to share it with you!
In the past I’ve rarely been impressed with any of the de-alcoholised spirits. I’m quite happy with slimline tonic with a few drops of Angostura bitters or a can of low cal fizz. Or even just a sparkling water with a slice of lemon or lime.
But there are now some quite acceptable alternatives. One of these is Sea Arch Coastal Juniper: crisp and refreshing, with good depth of flavour. Inspired by the sights and sounds of Devon countryside, it’s made using traditional distillation techniques. A ‘Sea & T’ is refreshing and pleasant. From Ocado, at around £25 a bottle. The company has now launched cans of ready-to-drink Sea Arch, the original, as well as ‘Rose Sea & T’ (blended with a delicate rose and raspberry infused tonic). £2.35 each from Ocado.
Another very acceptable gin alternative is Cotswold Green No:1. A classic blend of botanicals is used with juniper and citrus, delivering a smooth and clean taste like gin, but with a healthier and vegan-friendly twist. With no calorific or sugar content either, it’s great for the health-conscious.” Cotswold Green No:1 retail at £25.00 (rrp) for a standard 70cl glass bottle at cotswold-green.com
Like traditional spirits, Amplify is distilled and made with a host of invigorating ingredients such as juniper berries, coriander seeds, Angelica root, lemon peel, lemongrass, and ginseng root. These fragrant botanicals combine with orange and citrus notes to provide a pleasant drink, without the need for alcohol. Amplify’s perfect serve is on the rocks with tonic and a twist of fresh pink grapefruit, but it also tastes good in classic cocktails, summery Spritzes, and spiced seasonal serves. Available from Morrisons, Tesco, Amazon, Harrods, Drink Supermarket and Master of Malt. RRP £15 (50cl bottle).
Another range of highly acclaimed ‘spirits’ is Australian brand Lyres, which makes a wide range of exceedingly tolerable spirits substitutes, including rum, whisky, gin and much, much more – even absinthe! It’s named after the Australian Lyrebird – the world’s greatest mimic!
From £23.50 at Lyres.co.uk and other good online retailers, Cocktail sets are available too, which make a great present.
When it comes to wine alternatives, in your local Tesco there are some very good own-label sparkling wines at around £3 a bottle. I offered some of these last year at a drinks party (remember them?) and those who tasted them were very impressed by the quality and value. Other supermarkets too have launched good ranges of no or low alcohol drinks too, including Aldi.
But for some of the best ones, it is worth going online and stocking up. A particularly good one I find is Stippl, available in white and rosé from stippl.co.uk at £20 for six 20cl bottles. While not cheap, these small bottles, served chilled, and in the right glass, really do give a sense of indulgence, and the contents are a delicious and refreshing wine substitute.
But what if you fancy a cocktail? I’d definitely look at trying Crave. With no sugar or artificial sweeteners, the 250ml cans only contain 10 calories! They claim to offer natural energy and immunity support (each contains 80mg of caffeine from organic green coffee beans and essential B & C vitamins, in case you wondered). Three flavours are available, based on popular cocktails: Mint & Lime (Mojito); Passion Fruit & Vanilla (Porn Star Martini) and Pineapple & Coconut (Pina Colada). From £5 for an assorted pack of three at cravedrinks.com
If beer’s your tipple, then widely available St Peter’s Without is perfect. Three varieties: Without® Original, Without® Gold and Without® Elderberry & Raspberry, offer zero alcohol and lower-calorie options for ale and lager drinkers. The Without® range is made using all-natural ingredients, is vegan and completely free from alcohol. Around £2 a bottle and available from Asda, Tesco, Co-Op and from www.stpetersbrewery.co.uk
Still on beers, but adding a rather nice cider too, is Smashed from brewer Drynks Unlimited. Available in cans or bottles, Citrus beer, berry cider, apple cider, lager and pale ale comprise the range.
They are refreshing, alcohol free and also low calorie (around 100 calories per can). Sadly, not yet in mainstream supermarket distribution, but you’ll find them available widely online at around £2 a can/bottle.
That’s about as far as I managed to get before giving up the desire to be good! The research has been interesting, and will no doubt come in handy for me later in the year, when – hopefully – things will have improved!