Daily Archives: 11/10/2014

Oct-sober: The best alcohol free drinks

This was a recent article in The Daily Telegraph that I thought would be worth sharing here called Oct-sober, the best alcohol free drinks.   Any tips on good alcohol free drinks is a winner in my book and I particularly liked the opening paragraph! 🙂

Within a decade or so drinking more than an occasional unit of alcohol will provoke the same kind of incredulous contempt and social panic as smoking. The purveyors of fat-making sugar, flatulence-inducing fizz and liver-curdling ethanol may spend millions on their packaging and promotions, but the facts are plain: boozing is destined to go the same way as the Great British Pub – downwards into oblivion.

“We’ve seen a gradual trend away from excessive drinking. It’s now cool to be sober. Too many pubs still treat people who ask for alcohol-free alternatives with contempt, so people don’t bother asking for them or just don’t bother going to pubs.”

With John’s help and the advice of a few tonic-meisters, Temperance merchants, seltzer-sluggers and juice-junkies, I came up with what I hope are 15 appetising non-alcoholic alternatives for anyone who wants to get on the wagon, for a month, or for good.

1. James White Russet Apple Juice. Made on a fruit farm outside Ipswich using 100% pressed apples, this rich-tasting, pungent, silky textured drink might well be the finest apple juice around. Good cold and at room temp, it’s like having cider for breakfast.

2. Luscombe Hot Ginger Beer. The default substitute for temporary teetotallers, ginger beer can be a sickly sugar rush. The Devon-based firm have concocted a fiery, sparkly, strong-tasting, lemony brew. Great with Chinese food, and it stops the tastebuds from needing anything as flimsy as lager.

3. Peter Spanton Cardamom Tonic. This bijou mixer – sold at Selfridges and other exclusive outlets – is one of seven tonics designed to enhance gin and other spirits. As a soft drink, served with lots of ice and a slice of English apple, it’s a lively aperitif. If the cardamom hit was a little stronger, it would be superb.

4. Bavaria Wit Beer. Sometimes you need one. This cloudy 0% beer has the fruity notes of an ordinary wheat beer. While somewhat thinner than the alcoholic stuff, it’s refreshing with a nice fizz and is one of the best of its kind on the market. (Many beers are low alcohol – under 0.5%; this is zero). There’s no excuse not to try it.

5. Bottle Green Blackcurrant and Coffee. Now owned by SHS (the makers of WKD), the UK’s best-selling premium cordial-maker still delivers the goods. I know the ginger and the tonics well and like them, but this limited-edition drink seems to be an attempt at a digestif – but one that a child might invent with Nescafé and Ribena. Peculiar.

6. ViVa White Peach and Melon. From Venice Beach, California to the Medway City Estate, Kent – the “functional drink” has arrived. This is a low-sugar, slightly tropical beverage with a creamy texture, and additional shots of chamomile and valerian root, for “stress relief”. Slightly marred by the aftertaste concentrated peach always produces. The Mint and Lemon, with inulin, lemongrass and prickly pear, was more appetising.

7. Eisberg Alcohol-free Rosé. Harvested and produced in the normal way, with the alcohol removed at the end of the process (the remaining 0.05% is negligible), this wine has a pleasant, fruity nose and an appealing if sweetish rose-and-strawberry flavour. The heavy body and slightly acrid aftertaste of normal wine are missing, but this is a decent pastiche. Very low calories, too.

8. Clayton’s Kola Tonic. Originally from Battersea, now made in Barbados, this cordial-cum-mixer contains West African kola nuts, said to be a stimulant (because of its caffeine), antidepressant, aid digestion, reduce fatigue and hunger, and work as an aphrodisiac. Diluted with soda water, it smells like creosote and tastes like bitter Coke with an orangey, citric undertone. Mixes well with iced tea and ginger beer.

9. Torres Natureo Syrah. The first low-alcohol red wine (0.5% is very low) to thrill the experts, this de-alcoholised Spanish varietal has redcurrant notes, decent tannins and a nice juicy feel on the palate. The Natureo Muscat is good too.

10. Big Tom. If making a Virgin Mary is a bit of a palaver, this blend of tomato juice and herbs, spices, vinegar, veggie Worcestershire sauce, celery, onion, garlic and lemon – 21 ingredients in all – is a lushly textured substitute. There’s no stinting on the heat and pepper, but beefy tomato still comes through.

11. Mr Fitzpatricks Sarsaparilla. The Aztecs used the Central American vine Smilax ornate as a medicine and the Spaniards jumped on it as a cure for syphilis. This cordial from a Lancastrian firm that has been around since Temperance times becomes a vivacious long drink when diluted with fizzy water, and the rich flavours – winter green, wood, cough mixture, root beer – are a perfect balance of sweetness, tartness and tanginess. It reminded me of the “pop man” of my childhood; the dandelion and burdock is also superlative.

12. Abel & Cole Green Juicing Box. This came with seasonal apples and kale, as well as celery, broccoli, cucumber, ginger, lemon and parsley; the resulting pea-coloured punch was a pleasant change from sweet, fruit-only drinks and the best de-tox drink of the lot. Abel & Cole delivers a whole range of non-alcoholic drinks too. abelandcole.co.uk

13. Belvoir Coconut and Lime Pressé. I know Belvoir’s cordials well and they’re excellent, lasting longer than the competition. This pressé is more of a party drink, with lots of bubbles and the lime nicely balancing the coconut’s sweetness.

14. Marks & Spencer Elderflower Cordial. The bone-white petals of the sambucus nigra have been embraced by the middle classes to make this the most popular posh cordial. Only ten per cent elderflower flavour in the ingredients is a bit mean, but this supermarket variety works well at three parts to one with fizzy water and a slice of lemon or ginger.

15. Carl Jung Mousseux Sparkling Wine. You can even celebrate soberly, with a handsome bottle of bubbly that contains less than 0.5%ABV. This demi-sec made from Riesling and Muller Thurgau has nice fruity notes, lots of bubbles and no nasty sweetness – very refreshing. Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung is credited with inspiring the foundation of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Loved the tone of this article and let’s hope it’s the first of many.  Not because I’m some born again temperance fanatic but because I’d like there to be a balance between alcohol advertising and non-alcohol drink advertising and this piece does that for me 🙂


Little pig, little pig, let me come in …..

I was thinking about nursery rhyme’s involving wolves and this one sprang to mind.  Why stories involving a wolf particularly?  Because our dear ‘wolfie’ is probably a relative and so I was looking for inspiration!

As a side note it also makes me think of a 1970’s UK TV series called ‘Citizen Smith’ who’s lead character (played by Robert Lindsay) was also called ‘Wolfie’ 🙂


Anyway back to the nursery rhyme’s and the story of the Three Little Pigs.  This reminds me so much of the sober community.  How so?  If you struggle on your own and build a house of straw or sticks then wolfie is likely to blow your house down.  It was only when the three little pigs were all together in the house of bricks that he couldn’t blow it down.  And so the story goes:

He then attempts to trick the pig out of the house by asking to meet him at various places, but is outwitted each time. Finally, the wolf resolves to come down the chimney, whereupon the pig catches the wolf in a cauldron of boiling water, slams the lid on, and cooks and eats him.  Yum yum yum 😉

So safety in numbers it would seem! I’m all for that.  Would anyone else in our little sober brick house like a piece of braised wolf?  ‘Power to the People!’ indeed 🙂