Low-alcohol drinks for January
It’s always about this time of the year that I begin to dread the sound of corks popping. At the beginning of December, invites to Christmas drinks, working lunches and festive gatherings are met with a thrill of anticipation and excitement but what happens if you (whisper it) don’t actually want to drink?
Whether you’re driving, not drinking mid-week, or simply need a clear head the next day, sitting in a bar sipping a thimbleful of lukewarm orange juice while those around you are waving around their elaborate alcoholic concoctions is Just Not Fun.
The problem is that, up until now, there have been very few truly decent no- or low-alcoholic drinks on the market. However, that’s all set to change as it’s been reported recently that drinking amongst young adults is at an all-time low while sales of lowalcohol drinks are at an all-time high. This year, sales of nonalcoholic wine have increased by 42% while no- or low-alcohol spirits and beers have soared by 87%.
It’s no secret that I’m partial to the odd G&T or two, so imagine my delight on discovering that one of the biggest trends at the moment is for no or low-alcohol botanical drinks – essentially gin without the alcohol content. It’s like Christmas come early!
First on the market was Seedlip, with its blend of zingy orange and lemon peel, ginger, lemongrass and peppercorn. As the world’s first distilled non-alcoholic spirit, this was a pretty special moment. Launched just last year, the drink is already behind the bar at many pubs nationwide and, served with a tonic and twist of lime, it really is a great substitute.
But it’s the drinks closer to home that I’m really excited about, with two great alternatives that have both been released this year in the Cotswolds. The Driver’s Tipple is a non-alcoholic gin created by former British racing driver, Hamish Gordon, at his Woodstock-based Driver’s Drink Company. Distilled in London, it has all the flavours of a classic dry gin with prominent notes of ginger, angelica, cardamom, mint, grapefruit and coriander. Serve it with a good quality tonic and a wedge of lime and you’d be happy to be the designated driver any day of the week!
If you just want to cut back rather than cut out on your drinking, Percival & Co is a fantastic, new low-alcohol ‘hard tonic’ with a grown-up elderflower flavour. It was created by Lucy Warhurst at her parents’ Oxfordshire farm as a way of enjoying after-work drinks without the fierce alcoholic content that you get in most bottles of wine. It has a base of fortified apple wine that is watered down to an ABV of 4% (most wines are above 12%) and then infused with elderflower and other botanicals. I’ve tried it served over ice with a sprig of mint, and it’s delicious. It’s available at Warner’s Budgens stores and will definitely be my drink of choice to see me through the festive period to New Year and beyond...
With great-tasting alternatives such as these on the market, Dry January has never looked so appealing!
Locally-owned company Warner’s Budgens have six stores in the area – Bidfordon-avon, Broadway, Moretonin-marsh, Quedgeley, Tewkesbury and Winchcombe. More information at warnersbudgens.co.uk
ABOVE: Lucy Warhurst of Percival & Co