These Non-Alcoholic Drinks Will Get You Through Dry January
There can be few more depressing phrases in the English language than ‘dry January.’ It’s right up there with ‘rail replacement bus,’ ‘courtesy call’ and ‘unexpected item in bagging area.’ Still, if you are trying to cut out alcohol following a December debauch (now there’s a phrase to bring a sparkle to British eyes), you don’t have to spend the whole month hibernating, because there are non-alcoholic drinks that are quite delicious even if they won’t give you that warm glow of boozy contentment.
You will, of course, have your sober smugness to keep you warm instead. There’s nothing that can be done about that, but if you are giving things up this year, please don’t use the word mocktail or – worst of all – Veganuary.
Ice cream floats at 45 Jermyn Street
The best way to do dry January is to drink children’s drinks in grown-up surroundings like Fortnum & Mason. Their ice cream floats come in flavours such as Kentucky Morning, made with brown butter syrup and cornflake ice cream. And yes, you can order it with a shot of bourbon.
45 Jermyn Street, St. James’s, SW1Y 6DN
Pink lemonade at the Dean Street Townhouse
With its gentlemen’s club style interior, this is another very grown-up venue which your drinking friends won’t mind visiting. Their pink lemonade made with fresh raspberries in unbeatable being not too sweet but also not too sharp and sour.
Dean Street Townhouse, 69–71 Dean Street, W1D 3SE
Turmeric Spritz at The Book Club
Containing turmeric, honey, apple cider vinegar and ginger, this cocktail is a near full-house of natural things that are credited with miraculous health-giving properties. Whether they really have them or not is beyond the scope of JOL, but they do taste delicious when combined with fresh herbs, soda water and splash of Angostura bitters.
The Book Club, 100–106 Leonard Street, EC2A 4RH
Jasmine & Kaffir Lime ice tea at Smoking Goat Shoreditch
As you might expect from a place that does big flavours with its food, Thai barbecue restaurant Smoking Goat offers some punchy non-alcoholic drinks. Made with fresh ingredients, their ice teas are designed to go with very spicy food and also come in Rooibos and Lemongrass flavour.
Smoking Goat, 64 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6JJ
Colada at the London Cocktail Club
One of the most delicious things about our recent trip to the latest outpost of the London Cocktail Club Empire was their so-called Colada, a Piña Colada without the rum. It was delightfully creamy, with the proper sweet and sour tang of fresh pineapple.
London Cocktail Club, various locations
3 Orange Seedlip & Tonic at Stillwater Bar
There is a buzz at the moment about Seedlip. Billed as the ‘the world’s first non-alcoholic spirit’, it comes in two flavours, Spice 54 and Garden 108 (smells a bit like potpourri), and provides a gin-like complexity when mixed. This concoction contains marmalade, Seedlip Spiced, orange juice, orange bitters, Fever Tree tonic water and a slice of orange. None more orange.
Stillwater Bar, 206 Trinity Road, SW17 7HP
Club Waikiki at Ceviche, Soho
Ceviche is justly famous for its Pisco-based cocktails but they also do some non-alcoholic versions. Their Club Waikiki is made with Seedlip 108, cucumber and huacatay (yes we did have to Google this – it’s also known as Peruvian black mint) cordial, lemon verbena tea (‘a sweet-smelling perennial plant perfect for herbal tea’ according to Sarah Raven.)
Ceviche, 17 Frith Street, W1D 4RG
Strawberry at Sager + Wilde
Another drink that tested our googling prowess to the max. It’s made with (deep breath) pink peppercorn hydrosol (flower water), strawberry shrub (a sweetened vinegar-based syrup) and verjus (a sort of vinegar made from unripe grapes), all topped up with soda.
Sager + Wilde, Arch 250 Paradise Row, E2 9LE; 193 Hackney Road, E2 8JL
Plum Shrub Sour at Peckham Refreshment Rooms
A non-alcoholic cocktail is a good test of a bar’s prowess, because there’s no alcoholic warmth to pull it together so all the ingredients have to be top quality. Their shrub (see above) is made with a fresh plums, vinegar, sugar and star anise, left to macerate together for three days.
Peckham Refreshment Rooms, Units 3 & 4, 12–16 Blenheim Grove, SE15 4QL
Rock Shandy at Ape & Bird
Angostura bitters is the non-drinker’s secret weapon. At Ape and Bird, part of the Polpo empire, they offer a particularly good Rock Shandy, containing lemonade, fresh lime, soda and a few drops of bitters to make one of the simplest and finest non-alcoholic drinks in the world.
Ape & Bird, 142 Shaftesbury Avenue, WC2H 8HJ
Orange juice at The Hive Wellbeing
Ignore the Paltrow-speak on the menu – ‘Our cold-pressed juice detoxifies, our food nourishes, our coffee ignites the senses and our natural wines warm the soul’ – this place does some of the best juice in London. Not cheap, but worth it.
The Hive Wellbeing, African Cultural Centre, 286–290 Cambridge Heath Road, E2 9DA
The County Julep at Off Broadway
Off Broadway opened in 2008, which makes them a veteran of the Broadway Market scene. It’s a New York-style bar offering beer, chicken wings and cocktails, including some sober ones. Their County Julep is a bourbon-less mint julep and it’s extremely refreshing – though we are going to knock a point off for using the dreaded M word on the menu.
Off Broadway, 63–65 Broadway Market, E8 4PH