Hands up who else is planning to do Sober October? I’ve never managed Dry January (mainly because I have a birthday smack bang in the middle of what is, surely, the bleakest month of the year) but this will be the second time I’ve given Sober October a go. The initiative was started by Macmillan Cancer Support to help raise funds for the charity in 2014. Over the last few decades, the ‘”sober” movement has gathered momentum with almost a third (29 per cent) of health-conscious Gen Z-ers (those born between 1995 and 2010) opting out of drinking alcohol altogether, and over a third choosing not to drink during the week.
A 2019 survey by Google found that 4 in 10 (41 per cent) of Gen Z-ers associated alcohol with “anxiety”, “vulnerability”, and even “abuse”. A far cry from the “ladette” drinking culture of the 90s and 00s. That said, the UK still has one of the world’s highest levels of alcohol consumption, as every Wetherspoon pub on a Saturday night clearly demonstrates. The average Briton drinks the equivalent of 108 bottles of wine a year, another 2019 survey showed.
While there are now plenty of alternatives to the more mainstream alcoholic drinks – from Brewdog’s Lucky Saint beer to Nozeco – the non-alcoholic options are clearly still a little limited. But going booze-free doesn’t have to be boring. So if you’re stuck for inspiration, but feeling like you want to try drinking less, here’s our list of the fruitiest and funkiest alternatives to some of your favourite cocktails and mixers.
Swap Moscow mule for: Peach and ginger CBD drink
I’ve been a big fan of TRIP drinks for some time and also love a Moscow mule (typically made with vodka, ginger beer and lime juice.) Out of the three TRIP flavours, peach and ginger is my favourite. The drink is made with sparkling water, fruit juice and botanical extracts (ginger, ginseng, turmeric, lemon balm, chamomile) and also 15mg of CBD oil (the one found in hemp plants – so unlike THC, tetrahydrocannabinol, it won’t give you a high.) I love the pretty-in-pink pastel cans too. From £2 a can. Sold in Sainsburys, Waitrose and other retailers.
Swap mojito for: Eucalyptus cordial with lime and fresh mint
If you’re usually a fan of a mojito with its classic white rum, sugar, lime juice, soda water and mint combo, a eucalyptus cordial from Hill Hassall served with fresh lime, mint, soda and lots of ice packs quite a punch. The cordial comes from a botanical garden in the Isle of Wight and is 100% natural. From £8.50 a bottle.
Swap pornstar martini for: Passion fruit soda
If you, like me are partial to the odd pornstar martini on a night out (a cocktail made with vanilla-flavoured vodka, Passoã, passion fruit juice and lime juice, usually accompanied by a chilled shot-glass of prosecco), this could be just the ticket. Fhirst do a lovely “living soda” which is made of a plant fibre and an active culture (the sort you find in yoghurt). It fizzes on the tongue and has a tropical tang but, best of all, it’s zero-sugar and gives your gut health a boost. Pour it over ice with a slice of lime. Sorted. From £29.88 for a box of 12 cans.
Swap crémant/champagne for: 0% alcohol sparkling wine
Until recently, I had yet to find a decent alternative to my favourite crémant from Aldi but I asked around and the 0 per cent sparkling wine everyone recommended was Thomson & Scott Noughty Alcohol Free sparkling. So many of the other ones I’ve tried taste too sweet. Thomson & Scott is made from chardonnay grapes and is crisp, dry and fruity. Booze-free perfection. Available from £9, from Waitrose and Sainsburys and online.
Swap paloma cocktail for: Pink grapefruit aperitif
If you’re a fan of a paloma – a tequila-based cocktail typically served with lime juice and grapefruit soda and sometimes a bit of Agave nectar too – you can substitute it for a pink grapefruit aperitif from Citizen Spritz, a sharp Mexican-style cordial which you top up with sparkling water or soda. In a cocktail glass with ice and top with a slice of fresh grapefruit, you almost wouldn’t know there was no tequila in it. Sprinkle a bit of salt on the rim of the glass for maximum impact. From £15 for a sample pack.
Swap shandy for: 0% beer with dash of orange bitters
I’m not a beer drinker but from what I’ve seen, there’s a huge range of great low or zero-alcohol beers on the market. If you’re usually a shandy drinker and prefer your beer mixed with lemonade, add some Angostura orange bitters to an alcohol free beer to get that shandy-in-a-pub-garden vibe. Low-alcohol beers available from all big retailers, and Angostura Orange Bitters from Waitrose and online, £7.10.
Swap Aperol spritz for: Orange aperitif
Who doesn’t love an Aperol spritz? Especially on a sunny day. The cocktail, originally from north-east Italy is usually made with Aperol, Prosecco, and a splash of soda. However it can be swapped for Anon’s Bittersweet Aperitif, a tangy, orange alternative. Serve with ice and a slice of orange and top up with your favorite sparkling 0% wine. Available from Amazon for £22 a bottle or as part of a £39 monthly subscription box from NoLo Cocktails, which donates 50% of its profits to charity.
Swap gin and tonic for: 0% G&T
There are lots of decent botanical booze-free gins on the market but my personal favorite is Pentire Adrift, a plant-based alternative made from rock samphire, sage, Pentire plant blend, lemon citrus and Cornish sea salt. It’s a taste of Cornwall in a bottle. For the more budget-conscious there’s Clean G from CleanCo, which was set up by Made in Chelsea’s former party boy, Spencer Matthews. It’s a juicy, juniper-filled alternative gin and more akin to London Dry Gin. CleanCo available online and from major supermarkets at £16 a bottle. Pentire taster bundle available from £25.
Swap sex on the Beach for: Virgin sex on the beach
If you’re old enough to remember ordering a Sex on the Beach in your teens while sniggering with your friends, you’ll love this virgin version, a blend of tangy orange and sweet cranberry mixed with non-alcoholic vodka. It comes in a retro style ready-to-sip-pouch from Wavey Ice, an ice pop brand. They also do a booze-free espresso martini. Available online at waveyice.com and Amazon as a mixed box or five single flavors for £19.99 per box (£3.99 per cocktail).
Bakewell fizz for: Nozeco with hazelnut syrup and cherries
Nevermind Bakewell tarts, have you ever tried a Bakewell fizz? The alcoholic version is typically made with amaretto, kirsch, a maraschino cherry and champagne, but if you swap it for a nozeco with a splash of hazelnut syrup and top it up with a few choice cherries, it apparently tastes almost as good. I haven’t road-tested this one personally but have it on good authority that it tastes just like the alcoholic version. Nozeco and hazelnut syrup available from Tesco and other major retailers, from around £3.50 a bottle.
Swap amaretto sour for: Amaretti with a squeeze of lemon and egg white
Speaking of amaretto, if you like to finish the night with an amaretto sour – typically made with Amaretto, bourbon, lemon juice, egg white and a sugary syrup – swap the amaretto for Lyre’s non-alcoholic, nutty, vanilla-infused version. It’s got the same sort of almondy taste. Mixed with lemon or orange and egg white, it’s sweet and sour perfection. From £23.50 a bottle online.
And that’s it, you’re all set for Sober October.