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9 drinks to make Dry January bearable - including the ‘Queen’s favourite’ juice

PUBLISHED: 19:51 07 January 2019

Will you be replacing that glass of Chardonnay with cordial over ice?  Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Will you be replacing that glass of Chardonnay with cordial over ice? Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

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Charlotte Smith-Jarvis reveals some great-tasting alcohol-free drinks to keep you going during Dry January 2019.

Kombucha's meant to be good for our guts  Picture: Getty Images/iStockphotoKombucha's meant to be good for our guts Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

January is traditionally the month for ‘giving stuff up’ and this seems to fall into roughly three camps. Camp one (who may already feel they’ve suffered enough and thrown the towel in) will have stopped eating chocolate, crisps and the like in a bid to slim down after the Christmas gluttony. Good luck with that. Camp two, are shunning all animal-based products for Veganuary. Again, good luck! And the third camp are those who, following too many lager shandies and bottomless glasses of prosecco over the festive season, swore, Champers in hand, on New Year’s Eve, that another drop of booze wouldn’t pass their lips for the next few weeks.

So the leftover festive wine’s been shoved into the loft/garage/shed. With a heavy heart that half bottle of Bailey’s has been poured down the kitchen sink. And you’ve probably resigned yourself to staying in watching box sets.

But it’s not all bad is it? With an early pay day in December for many working folk, funds are likely to be dwindling towards the latter part of January. Your bank balance will thank you for not splurging on rounds at the pub, or expensive bottles of Pinot during dinner.

Now’s a great time for sampling all those local alcohol-free drinks you may have seen behind the bar – some of them are so good you’ll forget about the booze altogether. Cheers.

Alcohol-free fizz

Not booze-free sparkling wine (we’ve yet to find a decent one) but a beautiful, delicate fizz in the form of Breckland Orchard’s Posh Pop. Inspired by the founder’s granny’s cloudy lemonade, each bottle has a base of spring water, with just a touch of sugar and all-natural flavourings – from Pear and Elderflower, to Plum and Cherry. There’s Posh Pop Lighter too, ranging from 0 to 5 calories per bottle depending which variety you go for. Delicious. You’ll find the products at cafes, restaurants, pubs and shops throughout East Anglia, and even further afield at independent shops across the UK.

Vinegar you can drink – yes, really

Cider vinegar is said to be quite the tonic, reported by many to aid indigestion. But more recently it’s been used in a revived ancient drink – the shrub. No, not the kind of thing you grow about your lawn to stop the neighbours peeking in! A shrub in the world of food and drink is a concoction of vinegar, fruit and herbal extracts, brought together in harmonious alchemy for your tastebuds’ pleasure. Henry Chevallier Guild’s family has previous with vinegar, producing cyder vinegar for many years. And it was during a trip to New York where Henry sampled a shrub in a bar, that the seed for his newest business venture, Nonsuch Shrubs was planted. The tangy, intriguing drinks come in Blackcurrant and Juniper, Sour Cherry and Garden Mint and Peach and Basil flavours, with no added sugar.

Living Tea

Fermenting is still a buzz word. Everyone and his mother’s at it. Making sourdough in the airing cupboard. Filling jar upon jar with sauerkraut in the hopes it really will taste nice! And more of us are trying to make kombucha – essentially a type of fermented tea, made with the aid of a SCOBY (a special type of bacteria). Thought to be good for gut health, the tea is all the rage with the hipsters these days and even appears on tap next to beer at some of the trendiest places. In East Anglia it’s being made by Louise Avery, owner of LA Brewery, who likens its taste to fizzy Haribos. Her tea is a blend of 80% green and 20% black leaves, flavoured with Lemongrass, Lemon and Ginger, or Strawberry and Black Pepper. It’s surprisingly refreshing, and very complex – one to sip not slurp. You’ll find it cropping up in local shops, but can also sample it at the award-winning Unruly Pig in Bromeswell.

Boost your running power

Some studies have shown that the higher levels of nitrates in beetroot juice can give sportspeople (particularly runners) an injection of power – something to do with enhancing blood vessel dilation. Beet It makes beetroot shots specifically for sporty folk, but also makes large cartons of the stuff for regular Janes and Joes in original, Ginger, and Passionfruit flavours. Certified organic, the juices have no additives or preservatives, just pure beet juice with a touch of apple to bring out the vegetable’s natural sweetness. Found in supermarkets and shops UK-wide, it’s made right here in the east.

Liven up water

Nothing does more for a glass of water than a dash of high quality cordial. Due to the sugar tax, many big brands and supermarkets are going totally sugar-free in favour of artificial sweeteners. If you prefer the real deal, stay closer to home. Charlotte of Hedgerow Cordials in Suffolk grows, forages for and locally sources the fruits for her delectable cordials, from Spiced Plum, to Rhubarb and Ginger. As well as being on sale in local stores, you’ll find the quirky Hedgerow Cordials bar at events throughout the year.

Further north and you’ll discover Norfolk Cordials, whose emphasis is on luxury. The very finest fruits are cold-pressed to release their natural essence, and flowers are plucked by hand from local hedgerows. The Red Gooseberry and Elderflower and Elderflower and Cucumber flavours are exquisite – especially over ice with fizzy water.

Drink like the Queen

I’m not sure what Her Majesty has for breakfast every day (I like to imagine it’s smoked salmon on an English muffin with a dousing of hollandaise) but what is a certainty is that one some days the Royal breakfast table will be laden with the estate’s own apple juice. Pressed in a traditional barn, eight varieties of juice are crafted there and served and sold at Sandringham, as well as fine food stores and some (presumably exclusive) supermarkets.

Beer without the hangover

The low alcohol and alcohol-free market is booming. Forget the sugary stuff you might have been forced to drink a decade ago. These days there are some pretty decent options if you’re being ‘des’. Leading the way is St Peter’s Brewery, whose St Peter’s Without has stormed the global alcohol-free market to become one of the world’s leading craft beers in this category. It’s available in Original (a full-bodied amber ale), Organic, and Gold varieties.

Treading swiftly behind St Peter’s is Adnams, which launched a 0.5% version of Ghost Ship in the middle of last year. This is a cracking beer which aficionados are calling a “gamechanger”.

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