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Soft Drinks for Grown-Ups: What to Drink During Dry January

Dec 28, 2020 | Drink

There are loads of good non-alcoholic beers, wines and spirits available these days. But more often than not, if I’m not drinking, I don’t want to pretend I’m drinking – I just want to enjoy something else.

The main challenge is always avoiding sugar. Traditional fizzy drinks and fruit squash are so tooth-achingly sweet and leave your teeth with a horrible furry feeling. While I do have a soft spot for the odd Diet Coke, recently I have been seeking out some fancier options.

Tonic Water

Until a few years ago, I did not see what other people did in tonic water. It tasted so bitter and generally unappealing. But I must have done some growing up, as it is now my go-to soft drink.

There are loads of great tonics on the market, and earlier this year I bought an incredible selection box with 24 different tonics from different brands. It doesn’t seem to be available any longer, but this from Fever-Tree and Fentimans looks to be a good alternative:

Fever Tree & Fentimans Mixed Case Tonic Water Flavours Set (24 Pack) - Perfect for Gin Lovers
  • We start with the idea that, if ¾ of your drink is the mixer, then you should use the best. We work with only the best naturally sourced ingredients from around the world and no artificial flavourings or sweeteners to create mixers that do justice to the world's finest spirits. Fentimans & Fever Tree are the epitome of exquisite tonics and in this set we bring you the very best flavours on the market today
  • Fever Tree Premium Indian Tonic Water
  • Fever Tree Naturally Light Tonic Water
  • Fever Tree Lemon Tonic Water
  • Fever Tree Elderflower Tonic Water
  • Fever Tree Aromatic Tonic Water
  • Fever Tree Mediterranean Tonic Water
  • Fentimans Premium Indian Tonic Water
  • Fentimans Naturally Light Tonic Water
  • Fentimans Pink Grapefruit Tonic Water
  • Fentimans Botanical Tonic Water
  • Fentimans Mediterranean Orange Tonic Water
  • Fentimans Connoisseur Tonic Water
  • This gift pack is perfect for all the gin lovers out there, with 12 gorgeous flavours to try presented in a sturdy transit box to arrive safely this is an ideal quick gift for your loved ones.
  • If For Some Reason Any Of These Tonics Are Out Of Stock Then We Will Replace It With Another Equally Delicious Offering. Fever Tree are 200ml, Fentimans are 125ml.
  • I like my tonic served in a highball or wine glass, with a couple of cubes of ice and maybe a fruit or herb garnish if I’m feeling fancy. Somehow, making this much effort over a simple soft drink makes me savour and enjoy it more.

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    The tonic I always have in the house is Fever-Tree’s Aromatic Tonic Water:

    Fever-Tree Aromatic Tonic Water - 24 x 200ml Bottles
    • Fever-Tree Aromatic Tonic Water - 24 x 200ml Bottles
    • Ginger and cardamom gives Fever-Tree Aromatic Tonic Water a gentle spice and Madagascan vanilla adds a delicate sweetness. The result is a uniquely refreshing aromatic flavour that has a dry and clean finish, with beautiful citrus notes.
    • Fever-Tree Aromatic Tonic Water has a sweet, spicy flavour blended with Jamaican pimento berries, Madagascan vanilla and angostura bark from South America.

    Ginger Ale

    Schweppes Ginger Ale

    I’ve drunk ginger ale for years, most often the Schweppes ‘slimline’ option, which is a great option if you want something low on calories. It’s also really good value so great for serving at parties or to big groups.

    Fentimans Spiced Orange Ginger Ale

    More recently, I have explored other brands and this Autumn and Winter I really love Fever-Tree’s Spiced Orange Ginger Ale.

    Ginger Beer

    Fentimans Ginger Beer

    If you really love the fieriness of ginger, ginger beer is the way to go. I mostly discover new brands in pubs, ordering whatever they serve, and Fentiman’s is one of my favourites. I also love the retro bottles.

    Belvoir Ginger Cordial

    For a similar impact but less calorific, Belvoir’s Ginger Cordial served with soda water is a good option for at home.

    Raspberry Lemonade

    Belvoir Raspberry Lemonade

    Yes, I know I said I didn’t like too much sugar, but occasionally I’ll make an exception for a really good raspberry lemonade, with the sugar balanced by a sharpness that almost makes me wince at the first sip.

    This from Belvoir is particularly intense.


    Is Kombucha any good?

    Confession: I have never tasted kombucha. I know, how can I have lived to the grand old age of 30-something in the city of London and not tasted this hipster sensation?

    I wouldn’t usually recommend something I’ve not tried but it seems so popular that all those people can’t be wrong…can they? And it’s so good for you, all that fermentation!

    I obviously don’t have a favourite brand to recommend but BBC Good Food have done the hard work for me and rounded up some of their top picks.

    Maybe trying one of these will be one of my foodie resolutions for next year.

    Katie Greywood

    Katie Greywood


    Katie is a contributing editor on Bacchanalian. An excellent home cook with an intuition about balancing texture, flavour and seasoning to create recipes which don't break the budget.
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