AAsking someone how they are doing right now is a case of: “Other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?“It’s hard to think of a less auspicious start to the year, so I could understand if dry January was too daunting to contemplate. It certainly is for me, although fortunately I have the excuse of daily work.
Others, however, are more moderate if new year’s trend reports They are anything to go by, with the continued rise and fall of nolo (no alcohol and low alcohol) that seems like a constant feature of 2021. Certainly, the innovation rate is impressive, even if not everyone makes the grade. Startups, in particular, are struggling to identify the complex mix of botanical ingredients needed to make alcohol-free spirits more interesting than tap water. Even the professionals. SipsmithFor example, they have delayed the release of their long-awaited alcohol-free FreeGlider because they are still not happy with it, despite having spent two years fine-tuning it. (I thought the prototype, version 186, which I tested, was excellent, but they are still not satisfied.) And if you’re charging the same price as a bottle of undiluted gin, you should be right.
Even if you started out with the best of intentions, not drinking for a whole month is a difficult task, especially when the news is relentlessly discouraging. The answer, as with a diet, is to have the right kinds of drinks on hand. If you’re a beer drinker, you’re in luck, because the non-alcoholic versions are better than most, although I’m not sure Guinness fans are totally sold on the 0.0% version. There are some good IPAs too, like Lervig’s No Worries alcohol-free IPA (£ 1.85 for 330ml Hop Burns Black and Bristol’s Best Food Company) and the insane but glorious Big Drop Brewing Co Kinzig Gateau Stout on today’s panel below.
And hallelujah! – I found a trio of substitutes for sparkling wine: Stippl, which is the first wine-like product I’ve actually rated (though I like the sweetest rosé the least), a new range of sparkling teas from Saicho which are designed to accompany food (hojicha, which tastes like toasted rice, is my favorite, but jasmine is good too) and a sweet French gamay and grape juice that you will love if you like natural wine. Stippl has coined the clever catchphrase, “Not boring, just sober,” which is a good answer whenever you are asked why you don’t drink. Good luck to all of you!