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.
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:
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.
The tonic I always have in the house is Fever-Tree’s Aromatic Tonic Water:
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.
More recently, I have explored other brands and this Autumn and Winter I really love Fever-Tree’s Spiced Orange Ginger Ale.
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.
For a similar impact but less calorific, Belvoir’s Ginger Cordial served with soda water is a good option for at home.
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.
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.