Life on the inside: 10 low and no-alcohol drinks for lockdown

With virtual pub quizzes, Zoom parties and “quarantinis” having become the new normal, many of us have become a dab hand at fixing our own drinks.

And without the discipline of a normal working routine, the gym and diarising “school nights” to lay off the booze, it’s far more tempting to have a glass, and then another one…

Combine that with warm temperatures and blue skies, and who wouldn’t argue that a cuppa loses its mojo when there’s the appealing option of a mojito?

But if you feel the need to call time on too much of a good thing, these low and no-alcohol alternatives put mindful drinking first, without compromising on flavour…

1. A ‘small’ beer

Traditionally “small beer” has an average ABV of between 0.5% and 2.8%. Today, brewers are tapping into trends for low and no, and demand for artisan varieties, so the likes of the Small Beer Brew Co – whose range comes in under 2.8% ABV – are creating really fresh session beers. Citrusy, hoppy, surprisingly satisfying and some with fewer than half the calories.

2. White wine spritzer

It’s a little bit old school cool, and remember, the more ice, the better. Take your favourite highball, load it with quality cubes, half fill with a sauvignon blanc (the herbaceous flavours and aromatics won’t disperse easily when they’re diluted), top with lots of fizzy water and garnish with a lime wedge.

3. Vermouth with soda

A fortified wine flavoured with herbs and spices, red vermouths such as Starlino Rosso work beautifully in low ABV cocktails at 17%, and can be enjoyed on the rocks with a splash of soda. The classic “vermouth de Torino” also comes in a heavy, apothecary style bottle. Cin cin!

4. Sparkling wine topped up with fruit juice

When it’s time to pop the corks, celebrations will last that much longer if you top your flute of fizz with a splash of fresh orange juice or red grapefruit juice. Alternatively, think about building a bellini: prosecco topped with peach puree is just as stylish, but lighter on the booze front.

5. Alcohol-free wine

A household name Down Under, award-winning McGuigan wines produce all our favourite styles; but their Zero range has hidden potential. Not only can you quaff these fruity gems to your heart’s content, with three styles to choose from, it’s happy days for lunchtime sipping.

6. Non-alcoholic spirits

Seedlip’s non-alcoholic distilled spirits offer three variants: Garden, Grove and Spice. And if you really want to up the ante and switch tonic for juice, bitters and a twist, the company’s website offers a selection of easy-to-follow drinks recipes for some of the world’s most popular cocktails… without the hangover.

7. A light ABV Riesling

If you’re not familiar with the sommelier’s favourite wine (versatile and food-friendly), Riesling is a bone-dry, cool climate style, and some can go as low as 9.5% ABV. With lively fruit flavours, it could be your next go-to white. Some of the best come from Pfalz in Germany – look for “trocken” meaning dry, or “kabinett” meaning light, on the label.

8. White port and tonic

Portuguese white port is having a moment, and you’ll be hard pushed to find a more deliciously crisp and refreshing drink than a P&T. Take one part white port (between 16.5% and 20% ABV), one part tonic, serve over ice and garnish with a slice.

9. Grown-up cordial

Drinks critic Matthew Jukes is the brains behind Jukes Cordialities which are designed to resemble red and white wine, and to be served in a wine glass or tumbler with still, sparkling or tonic water.

10. Alcohol-free cider

There’s a number of 0% ciders out there, but beyond doubt the Smashed range of British-made ciders tastes and feels like the real thing. With a medium-dry palate and orchard fruits finish, there’s sharpness and sweetness in spades.

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