Making Dry January more fun
Last year I did my first Dry January, which for someone that adores good booze as much as I do has not been easy. But as a result it has got me thinking a lot more about how to be more creative when it comes to those temperate times.
For some it’s a 24/7/365 lifestyle while others just like to take a break from time to time. Whatever the reason or season it’s nice if you are hosting guests to offer something a little more exciting than squash, plain juice, soda pop or a glass of tap water, it just takes a little thought.
So for a party, punch is an easy way to make those teetotallers not feel like lepers. Taking inspiration from boozy cocktails is a good starting point and from there you can create any number of flavourful concoctions. For a rum free Mojito, just muddle elderflower cordial, fresh mint, a few lime wedges, then top with crushed ice and sparkling water. Piña Colada is another good one. Leave the Rum to one side, blend ice, pineapple juice, coconut milk, maybe a handful of fresh or tinned pineapple and a smidge of brown sugar to give it that rummy feel.
Another option is to make your own cordial. It’s a simple process to make syrup and infuse it with whatever takes your fancy. Most fresh berries tend work well but I recently had an excellent one made from rhubarb. Again add sparkling water, some garnish and you got it made.
For these colder months I am a fan of mulled punches made from apples, pears, plums and the like. Just warm the juice with cinnamon stick, fresh nutmeg or ginger, a few cloves for a cockle-warming treat. Homemade Eggnog is another nice winter option and there are plenty of recipes for it online.
Now in terms of matching with a meal you have to consider all the same factors you would pair with something alcoholic, it’s about balancing flavour.
So if it’s Mexican, think fresh limeade with a touch of sea salt to ape a margarita. Middle Eastern fair with pomegranate cordial would be nice. A perfect match with an Indian is of course a creamy yogurt Lassi. Far East food like Chinese, Thai and Japanese love tea: ginger, green, jasmine and lemongrass to name a few. Mediterranean tomato based dishes, roast poultry and lamb, grilled fish or seafood all need more care. So starting with sparkling or still water and adding perhaps some citrus and herbs like fennel, tarragon, rosemary and basil are all options. Grilled or roasted beef and game will pair well with dark fruits like blackberry and blackcurrant, but not too sweet mind. Pork loves apples and plums so juices or cordials cut with water should match very well. But don’t overcomplicate things, 2 or 3 flavourings are plenty.
Now on the subject on non-alcoholic wines and beers few good words are oft said. The issue being that the aforementioned products simply do not resemble what they purport to be. Often times veering dangerously into downright offensive.
I managed with some research to find two very palatable low alcohol beers, the cleverly named Jever ‘Fun’ and Rothaus Alkoholfrei both Lagers from Germany. The beers tasted remarkably like well… beer and decent beer at that. Hoppy, bitter and crisp in the right places, they paired well with spicy food as well.You can buy Jever in a few places including the clearly signposted The Alcohol Free Shop. Rothaus is available online and in store at Noble Greeen Wines in Hampton. I have yet to try a good alcohol-free wine. But I'll continue looking on your behalf…
Hopefully this has given you some ideas and perchance even some inspiration on how to spice up the sober.