Nothing says ‘festive' like a glass of wine (or four). But, if after almost four weeks of supping moonshine, your insides feel like pain stripper, help is on hand in the form of January. January means resolutions, health and fitness…it’s the perfect time to implement a booze ban. I’ve done it once before and this year I’m doing it again.
I don’t actually drink a great deal, but I like to be sociable and all too often abstaining means Missing Out, and endless explanations to merry and well-meaning friends who attempt to ply you with vodka disguised as water. As I’ve given up on finding pleasant tasting non-alcoholic wines and beers, I’ve developed a coping strategy to see me through January.
Making Friends with Mocktails
The first rule is that non-alcoholic drinks should taste good. In order for a non-alcoholic beverage to feel as much of a treat as one that contains booze it needs to be made with care, attention, and creativity. A carton of own-brand supermarket juice won’t cut it. Stockpile fresh mint or borage sprigs, cinnamon sticks, cloves and ginger, or make ice cubes with dried rose petals or berries – a bit summery for January but certainly very pretty.
The most obvious substitute is a ‘mocktail’ – a quick poll revealed Virgin Daiquiris, Mojitos and Mary’s to be the most popular, but I’m not a fan. The almost-familiarity of an alcoholic favourite usually leaves me wanting the real thing; the ‘virgin’ variety just seems like a cheap market knock-off. I’m guilty of sticking to the same alcoholic tipples (usually an attempt to ward off a hangover), so I like to try out new combinations with non-alcoholic mixes. Top of my list this January is the Lime Daisy – a mix of fresh lime, homemade grenadine and syrup and soda water – refreshing!
Most cordials and syrups mix well with sodas or sparkling water (not as sweet) – experiment with salted rims for an extra kick. Belvoir Fruit Farm’s cordials and pressés are excellent if a little pricey (but think of all the money you’ll be saving on alcohol). I love honey, orange blossom and rose water too – they feel so decadent I forget there’s no alcohol involved. Plenty of ‘virgin’ drink recipes can be made in large quantities, and even cut with vodka or gin to satisfy the drinkers – just don’t muddle them up ‘accidentally’. Allegra McEvedy has a host of tempting treats, including a lemon, ginger and mint quencher and melon and mint juice.
If syrupy sweet summer cordials aren’t your thing, mix a spicy ginger beer with lime juice and mint, warming and wintry. If you prefer coffee-based cocktails experiment with chilled coffee, cream, cinnamon and ice – although I can’t vouch for this combination as I don’t drink caffeine. Really, January is a very dull month!
Out and About
Juices and smoothies are healthy and tasty, although I prefer mine sans banana. If you’re struggling for inspiration, take a trip to Crussh or Joe and the Juice; they have extensive seasonal menus that will give you loads of ideas. Usually I just throw anything into the juicer and see what happens – that’s half the fun. Pour over crushed ice, add a cocktail umbrella or a stripy straw and sip smugly.
But, if you’re planning a night out, sometimes it’s better to head to a venue that caters for non-drinkers. The Telegraph recently voted the Long Bar at the Sanderson Hotel as one of the ‘best for non-alcoholic cocktails’ and I’m reliably informed that Browns Bar and Brassiere serves an extensive range of ‘non-alcoholic cocktails. If anyone comes up with any amazing concoctions don't keep them to yourself....
Image via OrangUtamSam's Flickr