Being a selfless sort of chap who strives to make the world a better place for my chums – and also ever more aware of the inability of the metabolism past 70 to handle more than a bit of alcohol I/we have been seeking out some non-alcoholic drinks for ourselves and our friends. Grown up drinks, that is. Not fruit juices or Coke.
We did this a few years ago and rapidly gave up. Pretty well everything east the time was, not to put too fine a word on it, insipid, unpalatable, over sweetened or foul. Sometimes all at once. This time around we have found drinks that we would offer to guests without embarrassment.
The beer industry seems to have sorted themselves out first and we have recently found several beers this year that are almost indistinguishable from the real thing. Certainly refreshing after a hard day while waiting for dinner. Probably the best to my taste is brewed here in Quebec by Boréal but there are plenty of others. I have not been able to try a non-alcoholic British-style bitter but I am sure they exist, just not where I live. Score 8/10
The trouble with dealcoholised wine remains the fact that while there are some pleasant enough options available for an evening glass on the deck they remain “thin” to the palate. On the other hand they are pretty cheap at $10 or less a bottle for the most part while a decent traditional wine is double that. The wine industry knows how to get the alcohol out but has yet to find a means to put some body and mouthfeel back. Score 5 or 6/10
Then we came across “Proxies” which are made by a company started by some food scientist types in Guelph – so a Canadian invention. They have taken a quite different approach to the question and said it’s a non-starter to make wine and then take the alcohol out. Instead they set out to devise a drink that is a proxy for wine. It comes in a wine bottle, it is devised to drink with and to complement food, it is extremely palatable but it has never been wine as such. It is based on grape and fruit juices with complex vinegars for acidity and tea for body (tannin). Most versions are decently dry, certainly none of the fruity sweetness of some alcohol alternatives. We like them a LOT and they most certainly go well with a meal. The company describes them thus “A new form of wine alternative—not dealcoholized wine, but layered blends of fruit, teas, spices, and bitters, designed to pair with food and be enjoyed in your finest stemware.” Available by mail order and rapid delivery to your door. The downside is that they are relatively expensive at about $30 a bottle so perhaps not an every day sipper but quite a revelation. Score 9/10
A bit of a holy grail this. I do like a G&T before dinner. Earlier this year we splashed out on a bottle of no-alcohol gin and it was utterly foul. Quite disgusting. In the end we gave it away – I don’t think it killed the recipient but we couldn’t drink it.
We has heard good things about a company in the UK called “Seedlip“. These people, like the “Proxies” wine makers, have taken the route of devising a drink that never had alcohol in it at all. Something as good as but different. I were many good reviews in the UK press and I was interested but couldn’t find it over here … until, by chance I found that it is available from that well known Canadian wine and spirits merchant trading under the name of Amazon. A bottle was ordered, some Feverfew Tonic put in the fridge and drinks were poured. Another revelation – this drink is quite remarkably excellent. Definitely a Score of 10/10
So there are some ideas for you if you wish, like us, to cut down your alcohol intake while still enjoying grown-up drinks.