Well, if you have decided to do ‘Dry January’ you can’t have missed the expanded range of low-alcohol and alcohol-free drinks now on the market. Many of them – in my humble opinion – are ‘the emperor’s clothes’ and at very high prices too, particularly some of the ‘spirits’. You are often better saving your money and putting a drop of angostura bitters or good balsamic vinegar into a glass and topping up with tonic or soda. (yes, the balsamic vinegar tip really does work but you need a good one! Tastes quite like Pimms actually, and even better with a sprig of mint).
But there are some rather decent new drinks on the market too… and here are a few I’ve checked out for you. I was very impressed by the Tesco range of low alcohol wines, at extremely reasonable prices (£2.75 a bottle). The sparkling white 2018 (0.5 % abv) is very acceptable indeed. The rosé is slightly sweeter but still a very pleasant, light, sparkling wine. They also do a Cabernet Temperanillo and a Sauvignon Blanc but I haven’t yet tried these.
If you like kombucha, check out the Genie Living Drinks range. It includes the UK’s first live soda, and delicious kombuchas. They’re probiotic, low cal, vegan and a refreshing alternative to alcohol. Available from Farmdrop, selected pubs and cafés and hopefully more places soon. Around £2 a bottle.
I’ve discovered a new, non-alcoholic spirit that is inspired by the flavours of South America. A tropical infusion of juniper, citrus and spice botanicals, its key ingredient is the South American Inca berry; sweet, yet tangy. It certainly grows on you. Like so many non-alcoholic spirits, it’s not cheap, but this one is worth trying. 50cl £18 Sainsbury.
One of the best alternatives to a Campari soda or Aperol spritz is a drink called Everleaf. Also available in Sainsbury at £16 a 50 cl bottle (on offer at the time of writing), this delicious, bitter aperitif has an ‘ecclesiastical’ note, which is rather unusual, and the gentian comes through subtly. Serve with ice, light tonic or soda and a slice of orange.
If you are also trying to lose weight (join the club!) these new cans of dry soft drink from Cawston are extremely good and they are less than 10 calories! Available in two flavours, Ginger & Lemon or Raspberry, they’re a simple blend of British sparkling spring water, a twist of Cawston’s pressed juice and natural extracts. No added sugar or sweeteners, or artificial nonsense. I’m pretty addicted to them; serve them in a nice glass with some ice and you can fool yourself that you are drinking something much more naughty. They’re available from Ocado, Wholefoods, Amazon and independents including cafés, gyms and galleries. The slim 250ml cans retail for around £1.20.
And finally, if planning to cut your alcohol consumption or you already avoid it, check out thedrydrinker.com. It’s a wealth of carefully sourced drinks: wines, beers, ciders, spirits, kombuchas.. It’s the brainchild of local resident Stuart Elkington who, fed up with poor availability of decent low and non-alcoholic beers, started sourcing his own. The result is a global online cornucopia for careful imbibers. Sinzero Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon £9.49 is a very acceptable alternative to the real McCoy.