Are you among the increasing number of folks taking a break from booze? Perhaps you’re participating in Dry January, challenging yourself with a monthlong hiatus from alcohol. Maybe you’re abstaining for an indefinite period, which posits you among those who are embracing the “sober curious” or “sober sometimes” lifestyle movement.
More bars and restaurants are responding to the growing demand for alcohol-free cocktails. And now, newly released “How to Drink Without Drinking” (Kyle Books, $19.99), by Guardian wine columnist Fiona Beckett, provides ideas and recipes for thoughtful alcohol-free drinking at home.
Beckett offers dozens of recipes for drinks that don’t hold a drop of alcohol. The book also includes tips for stocking an alcohol-free pantry, and for preparing syrups and flavored waters that add all the zing and none of the buzz to a mocktail. She provides a comprehensive list of alcohol-free brands of beer, wine and aperitifs, as well as quality tonics and other mixers. There are even suggestions for food pairings to match non-alcoholic drinks.
Beckett admits that she isn’t a huge fan of the current selection of alcohol-free wines in the marketplace. For those who typically drink vino, she recommends adding a dash of balsamic vinegar to red grape juice, and verjus to white grape juice. Sour cherry juice, she says, has a touch of tartness that will stand in for pinot noir.
But Beckett finds merit in alcohol-free wine when it is treated like mulled wine. Her recipe calls for elderberry juice, as it gives the warm beverage more body. I found the more readily available pomegranate or grape-cranberry juice to be sufficient substitutes for this cold-weather sipper. The recipe gives the option to add orange bitters. However, most brands of bitters contain at least a trace amount of alcohol. If the drink needs to be entirely free of alcohol and you are in doubt, leave the bitters out.
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