Help for dry Jan­uary

The op­tions for non- al­co­holic drinks have ex­panded in re­cent years

The Irish Times Magazine - - DRINK - JOHN WIL­SON

How are you get­ting on with your Dry Jan­uary? Al­co­hol is some­thing of an oc­cu­pa­tional haz­ard for a drinks writer; it is my job to drink, or at least taste, the stuff on a very reg­u­lar ba­sis. Mine is one of the few jobs that per­mits you to pour a glass of wine, whiskey or beer at 9.30 in the morn­ing. While most of us du­ti­fully spit out ev­ery­thing we taste, I know that a lit­tle al­co­hol passes into my blood­stream with every mouth­ful. Hence why I never drive to tast­ings, and keep a close eye on my con­sump­tion.

I have no prob­lem with the con­cept of a Dry Jan­uary, but it is not re­ally prac­ti­cal for a wine writer. In­stead I try to avoid al­co­hol, when pos­si­ble, for the first three days of each week through­out the year. Pádraig O’Mo­rain’s thought- pro­vok­ing ar­ti­cle in The Ir­ish Times health sup­ple­ment on Dry Jan­uary rang a few bells for me.

My own trig­ger is to pour a glass of wine at about 6.30 when I start pre­par­ing din­ner. When I first cut out drink, I avoided this im­pulse by mak­ing din­ner ear­lier, by hav­ing much sim­pler, easy- to- pre­pare meals or by hav­ing a soft drink in­stead.

One of the big­gest prob­lems with go­ing dry is what to drink in­stead. Leav­ing aside the ef­fect it has on your senses, al­co­hol does ac­tu­ally make a drink much more com­plex and in­ter­est­ing. I have never en­joyed sweet fizzy drinks, and while I like wa­ter, it can be­come a lit­tle bor­ing after a while.

Non- al­co­holic wine, led by Tor­res Na­tureo, has be­come so much bet­ter, as have al­co­hol- free beers. Seedlip leads the way as a gin al­ter­na­tive. The range of soft drinks has ex­panded hugely in re­cent years so there are plenty of op­tions, many of them made here in Ire­land. For me kom­bucha and wa­ter ke­fir are prob­a­bly the most in­ter­est­ing. You can make them at home, pro­vid­ing you can get hold of a scoby, but there are plenty avail­able in our shops and su­per­mar­kets.

How­ever, mak­ing your own drinks is so much more fun and not at all dif­fi­cult.

It may seem strange but vine­gar makes a great base for homemade cock­tails; a few tea­spoons of the ex­quis­ite Ir­ish- made Wild­wood bal­samic vine­gars, or any of the great Ir­ish cider vine­gars ( I love The Ap­ple Farm or Llewellyn) add a savoury tang to any drink. My cur­rent favourite is made sim­ply by leav­ing a few sprigs of rose­mary to mac­er­ate in wa­ter ( still or sparkling) for a few hours in the fridge, some­times with a few slices of lemon or lime and a tea­spoon of vine­gar. If I am feel­ing sum­mery, slices of cu­cum­ber and fruit, fresh mint and other herbs make for a fan­tas­tic, in­ter­est­ing re­fresh­ing drink.

Syn­erChi Gin­ger & Lemon­grass Live Kom­bucha

(¤ 2.79 for a 330ml bot­tle)

Or­ganic, ve­gan kom­bucha from Done­gal. A de­li­cious, lightly sparkling drink with a spicy kick and lip- smack­ing dry fin­ish.

Su­perValu; Cir­cle K; Boots; Spar; Londis; Avoca; Don­ny­brook Fair, Dublin 4; Mor­ton’s, Ranelagh, D6; Fresh, Dublin; McCam­bridge’s of Gal­way; plus health stores

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