Life
14 Jan 2016 03:00pm

Six of the best: alcohol-free drinks

For many years the first month of the year has been one of sobriety as we put the excesses of Christmas behind us and start the year afresh. Now it has a name – “Dry January” – and you can raise money for your favourite charity to make yourself feel even more worthy. But what do you do if your resolve starts to wobble? We’ve found six of the best alcohol-free drinks to help you through

Beer

1) Alcohol-free beer, widely derided thanks to memories of sipping Kaliber as the designated driver in the 1990s, has improved massively. The process to make alcohol-free and lower-alcohol beer has changed, meaning that the flavour isn’t wiped out with the alcohol. So if you still fancy the taste of beer without the transgression, Bavaria, Erdinger, Brewdog, Cobra, and Beck’s all make alcohol-free beer, as do the supermarkets. From experience, Brewdog (tasty IPA) and Beck’s (just a bit lighter in taste than the original) are best.

Wine

2) OK, wine sans alcohol is never going to taste as good as the real deal, but if you’re hankering after a goblet of the grape without the guilt there are alcohol-free options (beware, low alcohol in this industry tends to mean around 10% alcohol by volume, which is nothing like 0.5% ABV). The Alcohol-Free Shop recommends Organic Cabernet Sauvignon and Romance en Rouge Organic Red by Weinkonig (both full-bodied reds) and EminaZero Verdejo (0.0%) for a citrus white. Spanish brand Torres, meanwhile, offers a decent Muscat as an aperitif or to accompany fish dishes.

Sparkling wine

3) Dry January doesn’t have to mean you miss out on a toast this month. It’s still possible to have bubbles without the hangover. Jung Wines (psychologist Carl Jung is credited with inspiring the Alcoholics Anonymous concept) has a sparkling white non-alcoholic wine that is well regarded and good for toasting and Sainsbury’s Alcohol Free Sparkling Wine is also a safe bet. Or there’s Pearl Blanc Organic Sparkling White Wine (half Sauvignon Blanc, half Semillon), which is fresh and light.

Ginger beer

4) There was a time when all one could get hold of in the ginger beer category was the Old Jamaican variety, which was introduced to the UK in 1988. Since the heady 1980s, however, ginger beer has been given a makeover and there are all sorts available to sup on. Luscombe does a hot ginger beer that’s fiery and lemony both; Belvoir also has a lemony thirst quencher with authentic bits; and Fever Tree has a fiery beauty that’s cloudy and not too sweet.

Mocktails

5) A growing percentage of the population is choosing not to drink full stop and there are bars springing up to cater to this discerning crowd. Don’t talk to them about mocktails and alcohol-free; do talk to them about drinks that are tasty, bold and sophisticated. At the Clove Club in London, order a Woodland Wonder, containing seedlip (see below), apple juice, verjus and chestnut syrup or try a Sundance at The Connaught: orange juice, vanilla sugar, peach juice, soda water and grenadine. Alternatively, says economia’s editor in chief, stay in, mix a good-quality tonic water such as Fever Tree or Q with a dash of Angostura Bitters and a squeeze of lime, pat yourself on the back and don’t mention Havana Club.

Spirits

6) Non-alcohol spirits? Really? Oh yes, this alternative to booze is a thing. Seedlip, served at new celebrity hangout Sexy Fish and trendy hotel bars such as The Mondrian and The Savoy, is described as the world's first distilled, non-alcoholic spirit consisting of the distillates of six unique botanicals: American oak, Jamaican allspice, Guatemalan cardamom, Bahamian cascarilla bark (used in vermouth), Turkish grapefruit and lemon peel and is best drunk like gin and served with tonic. After completely selling out online, it's now back in stock in Selfridges, and will be available from HonestlyHealthyFood.com from Monday.

Amy Duff

 

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