What to drink if you’re not drinking?
Like many I’m going booze free for January, choosing to make this dark and depressing month in London just a little bit more gloomy.
And yet. I rarely drink at home anyway, so getting cosy with a herbal tea in front of a TV drama has proved easy. Last weekend however, I faced my first real challenge in the form of a birthday party. I remember a friend once telling me that saying no to the first drink is hardest, and thereafter it’s a doddle. And so it was. I even woke up on Sunday with a strange surfeit of energy.
Yet at the party the non-alcoholic drinks were a big disappointment. I drank Diet Coke, overly sweet ginger beer, and water. I wished they had served Agua de Madre, a delicious new probiotic fizzy drink, brewed in London with live cultures from cacti.
Certainly many restaurants have cottoned on to the importance of catering to customers looking for alternatives to alcohol.
At the Good Egg a brilliant Israeli restaurant in London’s Soho and Stoke Newington, they offer what they call a shrub cordial. This is sweet and sour and goes brilliantly with the punchy Middle Eastern flavours.
And at the excellent new restaurant, Native in London’s Southwark, journalist and food writer Hilary Armstrong swears by the sage cordial. “It’s the best I’ve had. Please put it into production!”
And the non-alcoholic drinks market is booming. Seedlip was the first disrupter to provide smart and delicious alternative drinks for those searching for sober sophistication.
Other friends and foodies have plenty of homegrown tips.
One makes a shot from ginger, honey and lemon in her Vitamix. She then mixes it with sparkling water.
Catherine Phipps, food writer, cookery book author and recipe developer, chooses from the many different varieties of tonic water now available, sometimes adding a dash of bitters to spice it up.
Maybe January is not going to be so gloomy after all.