How’s your January going? We’re just hoovering up the last of the Christmas goodies, but we’re also eating much more healthily (lots of healthy food inspo to come) and I’m back running again, so I feel I can forgive the odd Cadbury’s Hero (or three!). I mentioned in my plans for 2018 post that I’m really going to start concentrating on my health and wellbeing this year: looking after my body and my mind, and a big part of this for me is cutting down on my drinking, staying within the recommended guidelines and getting lots of alcohol free days. We’ve spend an enjoyable few days researching some healthier substitutes our usual drinks, and while lots are just hideously sweet and horrid, there are a few really good non-alcoholic alternatives:
Non-alcoholic alternatives – wine
If, like me, you’re a wine drinker, it can be really difficult to find a delicious alternative to a decent glass of wine. Rather than cut it out completely, we’ve decided to concentrate on savouring one or two really great bottles of wine during the week (rather than guzzling a bottle of wine between us every evening). But if you’re searching for a non-alcoholic alternative to a nice, crisp glass of white, we tried Belvoir‘s Chardonnay without the Hangover and while it obviously doesn’t taste like wine, it’s got a nice, grown up flavour of white grape and peach, with some lovely floral aromas. I actually thought the Shiraz without the Hangover was particularly clever, as it somehow manages to replicate the slight pepperiness, vanilla and spice that you associate with Shiraz. It’s even got a little bit of astringency. You have to remember to sip, as you would a proper red, rather than glug as if it’s a softie, though. You can find the Wines without the Hangover range at Ocado or Waitrose, and you can find the Rosé and Shiraz in Tesco, and the Chardonnay and Shiraz at Sainsbury’s – all for around £2.99 per bottle.
Non-alcoholic alternatives – gin
I love the ceremony of a fantastic gin and tonic: a really lovely glass, the clink of ice cubes, a couple of slices of orange or some fresh mint, and a really great quality tonic are all really important to me. Happily, that means you can get away with all the accompaniments and miss out the main component without feeling too terrible about it, especially if you go for a really interesting tonic like Fever Tree’s clementine flavoured one or Fentimans (the pink grapefruit one is lovely, as is the Mediterranean orange). You can even make your own by adding a few enhancements like mint or lemon to a bottle of tonic and keeping it in the fridge.
There are, though, a couple of great gin alternatives, notably Seedlip (apparently delicious, but rather pricey), but I quite like T&E No1 (currently on spesh at £1.99 in Waitrose). The blurb is that it’s a steam-distillated blend of 22 aromatic botanicals blended with green fruit juices and filtered through silver-birch charcoal. I feel like it’s a kind of grown up alternative to gin in a tin, but I find that because it’s quite strong in flavour, you can get away with sploshing, say, a third of a glass then filling up with tonic and you still get a lovely flavour. The packaging is lovely and it doesn’t feel like you’re missing out.
I do find, though, that if I start the evening with a G&T, then just carry on drinking the tonic without the gin, I don’t even really notice, as the taste of gin is already in my mouth. It’s an easy way to cut down a bit – even if you just replace every other drink.
Non-alcoholic alternatives – beer
I don’t actually drink beer, but I take it from the fellas in the family that most non-alcoholic alternatives aren’t up to much. One that they did mention, though, was Brewdog’s Nanny State, which apparently actually tastes quite nice and makes a passable attempt at the hoppy, slightly bitter, aromatic qualities of normal beer (note: this does have 0.5% alcohol).
Non-alcoholic alternatives – cocktails
If the amount of press releases I’ve received are anything to go by, the ‘mocktail’ is big business in many pubs and bars up and down the country right now. I think the most important thing is to keep it grown up: anything remotely resembling a smoothie is just not going to have the desired effect. Try lovely Helen McGinn’s book, Teetotal Tipples, for some wonderful suggestions.
My Drinkaware month
This month, I’ll be updating you with my progress as well as providing a little motivation. Do pop in and say hi. And if you’d like to join me in this healthier, lower alcohol journey, do get in touch 🙂
For more help and advice on how to cut down, low alcohol drinks, and even how to stop drinking completely, visit drinkaware.co.uk.