Dry (or maybe rather wet) January? – Well, here we go again; the worst month of the year, in my opinion, and we are being encouraged to stop drinking! I don’t know about you, but with the scenes of flooding across the country, the miserable cold and wet weather we’ve been having, it seems a tad harsh to give up that occasional drink! Anyway, I’ve been checking out a few alcohol alternatives for those who feel up to giving up for a month… or longer:
Maybe starting with a hot drink in this weather is a good alternative? Bird & Blend, an independent tea company, suggests spreading happiness and reimagining tea with health and wellness at the forefront. Its 2024 health, wellness and dry January range boasts wellbeing flavours such as; Lemon & Ginger, Moondrop Dreams, Cold Weather Warrior, The Digester and a whole range of Matcha flavours – all aiming to aid relaxation, sleep, support the immune system or digestion and gut health too. At various prices, available to buy online here
Hollywood actor, Blake Lively’s Betty Buzz range of new, great tasting premium soft drinks, recently launched in the UK, are a good Dry Jan solution. The Betty Buzz range includes Sparkling Lemon Lime, Ginger Beer and Sparkling Grapefruit.
With 40+ awards and counting since launch, I’m told that Betty Buzz mixers are already one of the hottest products on the US alcohol-free market. From £2.50 per 266 ml bottle from Whole Foods Market and as a multiple pack from Amazon – 24 x 150ml cans from £29.99
Sometimes one wants something completely different, and I’m pleased to report that I’ve discovered an unusual range of aperitifs from Drinks Kitchen. There are three core products: Orange Cinchona (woody notes from cinchona & fruity orange followed by more zesty peel and herbaceous notes of quassia & oregano and a gentle bittersweet finish) Spiced Rhubarb (with aromatic juniper and ginger, and gentle chilli heat on the finish) and Herb Verde (an initial burst of refreshing mint with the pea pod notes of gentian, followed by more subtle herby notes of rosemary & thyme). Plus a limited edition Grapefruit Piquante. They are really good, and have won stacks of Great Taste Awards. Each 950ml bottle makes 38 drinks or up to 7.6L of finished drink. £27 per 950ml bottle or £18 for a 475ml. Available online here
I was pleased to discover a couple of new alternatives to spirits at food festivals last summer. WaveLength Drinks. Created by brewers in North Cornwall, the drinks have a 4-6 week innovative production process, then the liquid is double fermented for 30 days to achieve a premium non-alcoholic drink. There are currently two varieties: Ruby Aperitif (with grapefruit peel, orange peel, hibiscus, pink peppercorns and lavender) and Amber Digestif (with ginger, lapland, vanilla, clove, cold smoked with a long, warming finish). They are both good, but I particularly like Amber. £20 per bottle online here
Another excellent aperitif discovered at a food festival is Feragaia, distilled in Fife, at Scotland’s first 0.0% abv distillery. It’s crafted from 14 land and sea botanicals, with the bonus of a long finish of pink peppercorn, and it’s very refreshing and versatile. It’s delicious served with ginger ale, or with grapefruit juice for an alcohol free Paloma. You can buy a 70cl bottle for £26.35 (also at Master of Malt and Not on the High Street) and in ready mixed cans here
I’ve talked before about the great range of aperitifs from Pentire, and the company now has a delicious ready mixed alcohol-free Margarita. A healthy riff on the classic Margarita, coastal botanicals, with lime, agave, sea salt and a dash of Mexican chilli, create a zingy, ready to drink, cocktail. Available in two sizes: 20cl bottle serves 2 and a 50cl bottle serves 5 online here. For the ultimate enjoyment, pour 100 ml into a rocks glass over ice and garnish with a lime wedge and a slice of chilli. You can also salt the rim if you like your Margaritas that way.The company also donates to selected sea conservation charities such as Blue Marine Foundation.
If ready mixed cocktails (and in particular an Espresso Martini) are your ‘thing’ then you don’t need to stint on flavour. Try the range of the world’s first nitro non-alcoholic cocktails from Mocktails, The Official Cocktails of Dry January. Mocktails offers a range of mixology inspired flavours: the Karma Sucra Mockapolitan; The Vida Loca Mockarita; Sevilla Red Sansgria; Scottish Lemonade Mockscow Mule and Espress0% Martini. You can find Mocktails online at Amazon, and directly on the Mocktails website at £30 for 12 cans.
Tanqueray Flor de Sevilla gin and its 0.0% Alcohol-Free spirit version are inspired by Charles Tanqueray’s Andalusian adventures, that took him into the orange groves of Seville in the 1860’s. The 0.0% also manages to balance the uniquely bittersweet and zesty taste of Sevillan oranges with orange blossoms, and the complexity of the core botanicals from Tanqueray London Dry. It’s readily available and well priced at around £15 a bottle.
If a liqueur is what’s wanted, then try the Giffard 0.0% liqueur range. The Elderflower one is delicious, and has a host of other uses in desserts and cocktails too. Try a spritz, with low or no alcohol sparkling wine. Available online here from The Whisky Exchange for £12.50 a bottle.
And now to Mother Root, a ginger switchel. The company takes inspiration from age-old methods of aperitif wine making: maceration, blending and sweetening for balance. But rather than using wine, it uses benefit-rich apple cider vinegar and fresh, natural ingredients. This fiery and fresh mix of zingy ginger, zippy apple cider vinegar, mellow blossom honey and a lick of chilli heat is best served chilled over lots of ice with soda or sparkling water. You only need to use a small amount for each drink and with 20 servings in a 480 ml bottle, it’s good value at £24 from Mother Root direct, Master of Malt or Amazon
And finally, if you’re up in London and doing Dry Jan, or are simply someone who doesn’t drink alcohol, did you know that there is a specialist ‘lo and no’ bar, tasting room and shop in Covent Garden? Club Soda is in Drury Lane, and it’s a great place to discover – and try – lots of different alcohol free and low alcohol drinks, before ordering your favourite. More info and a host of online drinks to buy here