After the overindulgence of Christmas and New Year when wine o’clock tended to be ever earlier, drinking trends are showing a tendency towards healthier options with low calorie, organic and alcohol-free cocktails on the rise as many people partake in Dry January …
The trend for low and no alcohol options is reflected in an influential Portman Group study which reported that almost a quarter (23 per cent) of alcohol drinkers were likely to consider switching to lower alcohol/alcohol free alternatives this year. This switch is led by younger drinkers where one in ten are actively drinking lower alcohol options. Luckily there has never been as much choice, or as many tempting options. Whether you prefer walktails or are a ‘booch lover, here’s some alternatives to your usual tipple to make Dry January pass a little quicker …
So you can’t get to St Tropez, why not swap your rosé piscine for Lillet (pronounced ‘Lee-Lay’) which is a light, fruity aperitif and low in alcohol. It was created in 1872 in a small village south of Bordeaux, where the recipe of its subtle blend of wine and fruit infusions has been prepared and passed down by successive cellar masters. At only 17% ABV (alcohol by volume) Lillet is perfect if you are looking for a low alcohol drink, as well as something pretty to post on Instagram. Try a Lillet Rosé Spritz – made with chilled Lillet poured over ice with added tonic water and a garnish of strawberry and lime. Available in all good off licences, including O’Brien’s, where Lillet Rosé and Fevertree Tonic is €25; www.lillet.com.
For “booch lovers:
The Galway-based fresh fermented sparkling tea All About Kombucha is made with organic ingredients and live culture and has gained huge popularity with the health-conscious. In August the All About Kombucha team is touring the Wild Atlantic Way visiting various beach towns with a purpose; to clean the beaches of the west coast and share their delicious teas with people along the way. Owners Emmett Kerrigan and Keith Loftus have partnered with Clean Coasts organisation and are urging the public to get involved. They will be starting this weekend in Bundoran, Donegal. Look out for the Booch bus from where you can sample the three original Kombucha flavours; Organic Raspberry, Ginger and Lemon and their latest “Immuni-Tea”, a blend of pressed turmeric root, lemon, ginger, carrot and black pepper. www.allaboutkombucha.ie.
For calorie counters:
Meet Ramona, based on the “go-anywhere, do-anything” Italian spritz culture, it offers five cans (four spritzes – Meyer Lemon, Blood Orange, Dry Grapefruit, Ruby Grapefruit – and one sparkling rosé, the Dry Sparkling Rosé). The base for all Ramona drinks is a lightly sparkling organic Sicilian wine made with Zibibbo grapes which is then mixed with organic and natural juices. Each is 7% ABV, vegan friendly and BPA free and is €18 for four 250ml cans. The sommelier-created spritz is made with the highest quality organic ingredients, sustainable production methods, no added sugar, no gluten, and no artificial anything. What’s not to like? www.winelab.ie
M&S has just launched its new Aperitivo Spritz, a take on the classic Aperol Spritz. Slightly bitter with a hint of orange and a light herbal flavour; this new cocktail is made using a crisp sparkling wine and fragrant orange bitters using natural colours and flavourings with an impressive 8% ABV. www.marksandspencer.com
For organic wine fans:
Aldi has just won five awards at the Global Organic Masters by The Drinks Business, the leading trade magazine for wines and spirits. Aldi was awarded Silver for its Unfiltered Sicilian Catarratto and Castellore Organico Organic Prosecco as well as Bronze for the Toro Loco Organic Red, Organic Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie and the Exquisite Collection Organic Malbec. Impressive given the price range, starting at €7.99 – €13.99. To recap on the reasons to drink organic: no GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are allowed in organic farming; no synthetic additives; no added sulphites – sulphites are naturally present in the skin of grapes, however, organic winemakers claim to use only “small amounts of additives including sulphites” or no added sulphites at all, resulting in less of a headache the next day; less sugar – grapes, of course, contain some natural sugars, but some winemakers choose to add additional sugar to improve the wine’s taste. www.aldi.ie
For G&T enthusiasts:
M&S has launched an alcohol-free Sparkling Botanical G&T, which tastes as good as the real thing and is ideal for designated drivers, those taking part in Dry January or just looking to cut back. Made using a blend of fragrant botanicals, from Edinburgh-based distillery The Old Curiosity (which has a secret herb garden), these include juniper, coriander, lemon balm, cardamom and angelica. Mixed with tonic, it costs just €3.80 per 250ml can. Serve over ice with a lemon or cucumber garnish; www.marksandspencer.com.
For beer-loving traditionalists:
Remember Guinness Zero and Pure Brew are both fully fermented non-alcoholic beers. When things open up again, do plan to visit the Guinness Storehouse where no tour is complete without a visit to the newly-revamped Gravity Bar, 46 metres above the city. Tickets include a pint or soft drink which can be savoured as visitors enjoy the panoramic views over Dublin city; www.guinness-storehouse.com.
For alcohol free drinkers:
The Virgin Mary Bar has launched its “Ultimate Alcohol-Free Home Delivery Kit” (€99), online which features a carefully curated selection of the Dublin bar’s most interesting non-alcoholic drinks. This includes a bottle of Three Spirit, a plant based social elixir, Leitz 0.0% Riesling, Everleaf – a bittersweet aperitif – Copenhagen Sparkling Tea, soft drinks and an alcohol free oaked cider. Founder Vaughan Yates says: “Mindfulness has never been more important than it is currently, and we want to do everything we can to help people to drink better at home during these unusual times.” The Virgin Mary Bar’s online shop exclusively stocks an extensive list of alcohol-free kits and products including the full Seedlip, Three Spirit and Aecorn ranges, a host of beers, wines and sparkling wines and of course a choice mix of unusual soft drinks; www.thevirginmarybar.com.
For sustainable caffeine lovers:
Perhaps you’ve mastered the (decaffeinated) espresso martini or like me you prefer an affogato post dinner, then consider using the new aluminium capsules by Frank & Honest which can be recycled after use and deliver a better quality product. These new capsules are plastic free and use aluminium which not only reduces the product’s environmental footprint but also significantly improves the quality of the coffee as it’s airtight – it keeps the ground coffee inside fresh for longer protecting it from moisture, oxygen, light and heat. The new aluminium capsules are also compatible with Nespresso machines and users can recycle the capsules either manually or by purchasing a nifty Dualit recycler available at SuperValue or Centra; www.frankandhonest.ie.
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