Going dry this January but stuck on what to drink? We’ve got you! This month we have drinks champ, and our Head of Marketing, Racheal Vaughan Jones, here to take you through her top picks in the world of no/low alcohol options. Check out her roundup of the best tipples to be drinking below, whether you’re cutting down or cutting out.
By Racheal Vaughan Jones, 12th January 2022.
Back in 2015, I undertook what was, at that time, the mammoth task of staying completely dry over the entire month of January. To be clear, it wasn’t a mammoth task because I had some sort of problem, but the thought of socialising or having a meal and the only options being fizzy pop or water, was less than appealing. To highlight just how daunting the prospect of 31 days without booze was 7 years ago – people actually sponsored me to do it and I managed to raise a couple hundred quid for charity. If I was to ask my nearest and dearest to sponsor me now to go without alcohol for a month, I’d have my temperature checked and probably be told where to go. Why? Because now there are vast numbers of brilliant grown-up drinks that happily satisfy every occasion where you’d typically enjoy the hard stuff. So now I say this – No booze? No problem!
If you’re still a bit unsure of the best tipples to be drinking, whether you’re cutting down or cutting out, I’ve tried huge swathes of the options out there (it’s a hard life) – read on to find out my top picks from independent brands in the world of no/low:
FOR THE GIN LOVERS
These guys are based down in Cornwall and use locally sourced ingredients to create their 0% ‘spirit’. All the flavours you’d expect from a Cornish tipple, their Adrift expression has a lovely saline quality coming from the use of samphire and a hint of salt. This is one of the few gin alternatives that really stands up to a flavourful tonic.
Best paired with: Lixir Refreshingly Light Tonic and garnished with a sprig of rosemary.
Rose & Chris make their non-alcoholic spirits in their two craft stills in West Yorkshire. They have a stunning Sea Buckthorn expression which works in numerous cocktails owing to its herbal versatility, but I’m particularly fond of the citrussy notes in their Lemon Verbena – when paired simply with tonic and a wedge of cucumber, it’s refreshment personified.
Best paired with: Lixir Classic Indian Tonic
Whereas Pentire & Bax Botanics are both 0%, Quarter exists to sit comfortably in that in-between zone – between 0% and full-strength. Their ethos is “why have one, when you could have four” but I love this ‘gin’ because it means that you can make a Negroni with all of the flavour you love but with an ABV of 12% instead of the usual 26%. Monday nights anyone? One for those who want to cut back but not out, I’ll likely be using this year-round, substituted into my favourite cocktails.
FOR THE WINE LOVERS
Ok so hear me out – NICE wine isn’t lower ABV than other wines out there BUT it does pair really well when lengthened with tonic into a nice spritz. That means you can massively lower the ABV without compromising on the wine experience. And because NICE is in a can, it’s not only super sustainable but it means you don’t need to open a full bottle of wine that will spoil if you don’t drink it all.
Best paired with: Lixir Elderflower & Lemon Tonic and a wedge of lemon.
No matter how far my tongue wanders across the kombucha plains, I always come back to REAL. My love for these guys only grew when last year they launched a 700ml bottle with a champagne cork, meaning you can have the pomp and ceremony of popping a bottle, even without the alcohol. But the main thing I love is how refined this kombucha is. Originally designed to be paired with food (they’re listed in numerous Michelin starred restaurants across the UK), this is a genuinely good AF option alongside a lovingly prepared meal.
The best alternative if you’re a red wine fiend, and coming in at 0%, is Muri. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re expecting the usual tasting notes you get from your favourite grape, you’ll be a tad disappointed, but this fermented and blended liquid has all of the tannins and acidity you want to go alongside that plate of cheese. So much so you’ll be saying “Chianti who?”. It also looks the part, and given that we ‘eat with our eyes’, we shouldn’t overlook that fact!
THE BEST OF THE REST
We’ve all (hopefully) long grown out of tequila slammers at the end of the night and moved towards appreciating the incredible flavours to be found in quality tequilas. If that’s you and you can’t bear to give up the agave, then Mockingbird is for you. The only decent tequila dupe I’ve found and at 0%, totally guilt-free. Tequila & tonic is possibly the chicest two part pour to gain popularity in 2021 so make like the cool kids and give this a try.
Best paired with: Lixir Blood Orange & Cinnamon Tonic
Between their Light & Zesty and Dark & Spicy, Caleño has to be one of the most versatile AF spirits on the market. Use it like you would a gin, vodka or rum in your favourite cocktails or simply pair it with a grapefruit tonic and flex your garnish game for a grown-up tipple worth serving at a party.
Best paired with: Lixir Pink Grapefruit Tonic
This list is by no means exhaustive but hopefully my tried-and-tested roundup makes it easy to cut down or out in January and beyond, without compromise.