One of my favourite trends so far this year is the continuing rise of the grown up non-alcoholic soft drink. If you’re not drinking for whatever reason and you get bored of the standard choice of water, cola or orange juice of an evening when you’re out then it’s perfectly reasonable to hanker after a much more sophisticated beverage.
In fact, I’m surprised that this relatively recent explosion in the drinks industry didn’t happen years ago. Many of us are designated drivers, pregnant or breastfeeding, on no-booze-allowed medication, getting out of a pattern of problem drinking, or simply on a health kick / keeping a clear head. It stands to reason that this large swathe of the population would be in the market for a delicious yet alcohol free drink.
As I mentioned in my September Back to School article, I’m having a month of not drinking. As I like the occasional glass of wine, gin & tonic or cocktail when I go out or have friends round I’ve mainly been looking for soft drinks that can be substituted in for those.
When I was looking for an aperitif type drink, the nicest two I tried were Monte Rosso and T&E No. 1. The Monte Rosso is a mixture of rowanberries, cranberries and Venetian style bitters, and if you like an Aperol spritz when you go out then this soft drink is in the same flavour area without trying to be a copy. It’s fruity but not too sweet, and the cranberries and bitters give it a tart edge.
Buy Monte Rosso at Ocado, £2.55 for 275ml, Waitrose and DryDrinker, 6 x 275ml bottles for £10.99.
The T&E No.1 is a blend of sparkling water, fruit juices and 22 botanical and fruit extracts. It has a crisp flavour, mainly with apple and lime, but there’s also elderflower, herbs and even a little oak in there. If you like a G&T before dinner then this would be a refreshing alternative, although it isn’t trying to be a fake gin and doesn’t have a juniper flavour. Created in 2016 from the people behind Britvic, it’s a sophisticated tipple that’s recently had its packaging rebranded.
Buy T&E from Waitrose, Ocado (£2.31 for 275ml) or Harvey Nichols.
Another great new drink I’ve tried recently is Nix and Kix Blood Orange & Turmeric. This is a relatively low sugar drink that comes in a can and has a distinctive blood orange taste that’s made more complex with a touch of turmeric and cayenne. I’d describe this slightly cheekily as ‘what Orangina wants to be when it’s all grown up’, and I had one of these in a bar the other night after I’d been to a comedy gig and other people were drinking Old Fashioned cocktails. It hit the spot pretty well and I’m hoping to try some more of their flavours soon.
Find it in independent bars or buy directly from Nix and Kix, £15.00 for 12 x 250ml cans, Ocado, or branches of Dobbies and Waitrose.
The last product I’m reviewing today is Luscombe Damascene Rose Bubbly. This is a mix of sparkling spring water, grape juice, lemon and Damascene rose petals, and it’s a lovely complex drink to have on its own, to raise a toast with, or to have with light meals or delicately flavoured food. It’s been around since 2016 and has won two Great Taste awards, but it was new to me. I also tried their newer Sparkling Sour Cherry Water which is a more robust, lip-smacking flavour but still very pleasant.
Find it on the drinks menu at independent bars and restaurants, or stockists including RealFoods and Abel & Cole, approx £6.00 for 4 x 320ml.
That’s it from me today, but I’ll be reviewing some more grown up non-alcoholic drinks soon, including a few non-alcoholic beers, wines and spirits. I’ll also try to find some non-alcoholic drinks that’ll be suitable for the festive season.
Do you drink non-alcoholic soft drinks at home or when you go out? Would you be interested in trying some of these?
Full disclosure: Contains a mixture of products I’ve bought myself, tried at tastings, and kindly been supplied with by PRs. All views and comments my own.