Guy Warner

Low-alcohol drinks for Jan­uary

Cotswold Life - - INSIDE - GUY WARNER

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 warn­ers­bud­

ABOVE: Lucy Warhurst of Per­ci­val & Co

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