The lowdown: the best low- and no-alcohol drinks for Dry January
Dry January is here: switch your drink of choice to a milder tipple that won’t challenge your centre of gravity before the evening’s out
If you want to enjoy a drink or two without falling off the wagon, here are some alternatives that are just as appetising as their higher ABV equivalents.
Nights to remember
Taking a break from alcohol doesn’t mean retreating from your social life, because many of London’s best bars offer first-rate mocktails, non-alcoholic wines and zero-ABV craft beers. Among our favourites are West Hampstead gem Heads Tails, where the upstairs bar specialises in tinctures light and bright. The Connaught Bar, currently wearing the crown of Best Bar in the World, also offers classy, alcohol-free takes on some of its classic cocktails. TT Liquor's TT Cellar bar has taken it one step further, launching a range of low ABV cocktails that are also vegan-friendly to welcome visitors partaking in both Dry January and Veganuary abstinence.
With its many branches and lengthy rows of taps, Brew Dog taprooms remain the go-to for beer fanatics looking for 0% alternatives. Meanwhile, mini-chain Caravan (pictured) and its Chelsea offshoot Vardo serve punchy, gut-friendly mocktails, juices and kombuchas that are so tasty we'd swap alcohol for them whatever the time of year.
Just add Jukes
For a glass of wine that won't expand the waistline, look to Jukes Cordialities. Created by wine taster and writer Matthew Jukes, these apple cider vinegar-based tipples are entirely alcohol free, vegan and contain just 10 calories per serving. Essentially a heathy, sophisticated, gut-friendly cordial, the drinks are sold in 30ml bottles (12 per case), each making two 125 glasses of 'wine', once added to your choice of still, sparkling or tonic water. Jukes is already proving popular: the brand has been used at the bars of esteemed restaurants, including The Wolseley, A Wong and Core by Clare Smyth.
Jukes Cordialities are available to buy here.
This Aperol-style beverage evokes the taste of your favourite Venetian bitters and lets you enjoy alcohol-free spritzes. Pour it into a glass with alcohol-free sparkling 'wine' from Italian brand Martini and load it up with ice and orange slices for a refreshing pre-dinner beverage.
Stryyk strives to mirror everything about classic spirits, not only in flavour, but also in design – you'd be forgiven for mistaking its branding for that of Absolut. Their line of substitute spirits are described by what they're not: Not Gin, Not Rum and Not Vodka. Now you can still Stryyk up a conversation over your favourite cocktails, from Moscow Mules to Mai Tais.
It's well-known that Britain's love of gin is unparalleled. Sales of 'mother's ruin' have surpassed that of all other spirits every year since 2017, but a deluge of botanical-based gin replacements are also saturating the market. We recommend Borrago, a floral blend of six individually steam-distilled botanicals. Mix with your tonic and garnishes of choice.
Borrago #47 Paloma Blend is available to buy here.
The Stryyk range is available to buy here.
Self-described as ‘the next generation of alcoholic drink’, hard seltzers (alcoholic sparkling waters) have been on the shelves for the last half a decade. But 2019 saw a new brand enter the field: Bodega Bay – named after the Californian town. Like all hard seltzers, Bodega Bay drinks are low in calories (just 72 per can) and low in ABV (just 4%). The drinks are made with BrewClear™ filtered alcohol and are free from artificial colours, flavours and sweeteners. What really sets Bodega Bay apart from others, though, are the brand's unusual flavours; the drinks come in either Apple, Ginger & Açai Berry, and Elderflower, Lemon & Mint – pretty exotic for flavoured water, eh?
Bodega Bay drinks are available to buy online here.
Grapes of (no) wrath
Seedlip, the company that invented the world’s first non-alcoholic spirits range, also produces non-alcoholic aperitifs under the brand name Æcorn Aperitifs. According to the company, the drinks have been informed by 17th-century English herbal remedies and inspired by the European aperitif tradition. The new aperitifs come in three varieties – Dry, Bitter and Aromatic – each made with English-grown grapes and aromatised with herbs, roots and bitter botanicals.
Æcorn Aperitifs are available to buy here.
Stop and smell the rosé
Perle Blanc de Chavin (left), Torres Natureo Muscat (centre), and Le Petit Chavin Rosé (right)
Finding low-alcohol wines that aren’t sickeningly sweet can be a challenge, but the Torres Natureo Muscat, 0.5% ABV, is as aromatic as they come: warm, silky and robust, it’s an excellent accompaniment to seafood and rice dishes.
Those counting the calories should take note of Marks & Spencer’s Sumika range of tipples that promises to be as virtuous as wine can be. The elderflower, passionfruit and peach-infused Sauvignon Blanc contains less than a third of the calories of a regular bottle of wine – just 50 calories per 100ml glass.
For special occasions, Languedoc-Roussillon wine producer Pierre Chavin has a Zéro line, including the excellent Perle Blanc de Chavin – a sparkling, frothy Chardonnay – perfect for raising a glass with, and Le Petit Chavin, made from Chardonnay and Merlot grapes, with intense red-fruit aromas.
Top of the hops
Beavertown Brewery's Lazer Crush
Beer producers are leading the way when it comes to low-alcohol beverages with small beers, session ales and table beers. Here in London, Bevertown Brewery's recently released Lazer Crush is a low ABV (0.3%) IPA, with a low price point to match – just £1.60 a can. What's more, this fruity, hoppy beer is made with a new type of yeast and contains just 83 calories per serving. Meanwhile, Beavertown's super session IPA Nanobot (2.8% and £1.90 a can) is a great option for those keen to cut back but not cut out alcohol this month.
Leyton-based Nirvana Brewery produces two completely alcohol-free beers among its roster of low-ABV brews, including the Tantra Pale Ale, made with lightly roasted barley to give the session sip a distinctive caramel body.
Also in east London, Big Drop Brewing Co.’s pale ale (0.5% ABV) is dry hopped and satisfyingly refreshing, while its seasonal spiced ale balances out warm malts with hints of cinnamon and ginger. Tasting better when heated, it provides an ideal way to warm your hands this winter.
If aromatic American hops are more your poison, try BrewDog Nanny State at 0.5% ABV, or for something lighter still, Danish brewery Mikkeller produces a range of non-alcoholic beers and even sells them in a Dry January bundle, so you can sample the full set and find your favourites.
Meanwhile Bermondsey-based Small Beer Brew Co., pioneered by two former Sipsmith gin producers, takes its moniker from the weak beer quaffed in the 18th century when water was too dangerous to drink. Stay hydrated with its crisp and refreshing – and sustainably produced – 2.1% lager.
Mr Fitzpatrick's Plum and Pear Cordial (left) and Seedlip's Spice 94 (right)
For those abstaining from alcohol altogether, Mr Fitzpatrick’s Plum, Pear and Mixed Spices Cordial is the perfect alcohol-free alternative to mulled wine – just add hot water!
If you’re after something a little sweeter, Square Root makes a small-batch seasonal apple soda from a range of British apple varieties, along with a range of non-alcoholic cocktail mixes – why should alcohol drinkers have all the fun?
But, for the ultimate alcohol replacement, look no further than Seedlip, who make the first ever non-alcoholic distilled spirits. We are especially tempted by their Spice 94, which combines the aromatic complexity of the Jamaican Allspice berry with two bark distillates and a zesty finish.
Packing a punch
Punchy Drinks’ Spiced Peach & Ginger Punch (left: alcoholic punch; right: non-alcoholic punch)
Thanks to brands like Punchy Drinks, rum is the latest spirit to get the artisanal treatment. The brand’s mission was to create a drink that proved popular with all taste palates while promoting balanced drinking. In other words, their aim was to create a drink to please the social drinkers, gluten-free drinkers, non-drinkers, only-at-the-weekend-drinkers, diet-drinkers and vegan drinkers. No small task. The team settled on the idea of creating two identical drinks: a spiced peach and ginger punch with 4% rum and an alcohol-free equivalent.
Both punches carry the same refreshing taste, making the drink an ideal alternative if you’re trying your best to stave off the units for a while. Drinkers could also buy a pack of both and switch between them each round, limiting your alcohol intake while enjoying the same tasty blend of flavours.