For me, this week was the test. Our book launch on the 25th, a Burn’s Night dinner on the 29th and in-between the start of our kitchen renovation. All occasions where I would normally have a glass of something cold and very very strong. How did it go?
Luckily for me the book we were launching was The Art of Drinking Sober, co-written by me and my husband Richard Davie – pictured above. So, we decided that if you’re going to have a launch party then showcasing the recipes in the book is a logical idea. Thanks to the wonderful Lee and Lauren who own The Beer Shop in Nunhead we had a venue and the brilliant Aimee to help us out. Thanks to Chris & Rose from Bax Botanics and Luke from Lucky Saint we had a lot of booze-free supplies to give to our guests and massive thanks to Jonathan Rose for his epic photography skillz – see below. I made the Bucks Fizz Soda for everyone to try on arrival, put jugs of Double Mint Mojito on the tables for self-service and then demonstrated how to make our Rhubarb Syrup. This is a lovely cordial which I use in place of Campari or Aperol because it has rhubarb for complex fruitiness, grapefruit for bitterness and beetroot for colour and to temper the sugar. Richard used the syrup to demo our Americano and I’d put together the rich almond and prune syrup for him to create a round of our Marzipan Sours for anyone who stayed til the end. It was a lush evening, so many supportive faces around us. The bar was open if the guests wanted to buy something stronger but there was a really interesting and pleasant atmosphere being in a room full of people celebrating and chatting where the drinkers were in the minority to the sober. Also the cleaning and closing up at the end was easier. So this “hurdle” wasn’t a hurdle at all. It’s very easy to not drink in a room full of non-alcoholic drinks and lots of people drinking them. Do we need more sober bars? Would you go? Discuss.
Perhaps we would have unwound with a glass of something once the work on our kitchen has started, perhaps we wouldn’t? The last time I was in a house where any kitchen was being modified I was still at school. One thing that I really enjoyed this week (after a strange few days of cooking in the living room and contemplating tiles) was a sort of fruity shandy or French Monaco. The Monaco I remember from working at French Living in Nottingham was grenadine, lemonade and lager. This we made by adding our Rhubarb syrup and lots of ice to a glass of lucky saint. It knocks back the stronger side of the lager flavour while still retaining lots of the bitterness. I think on a hot day this would be especially excellent, bit cross we didn’t pop it in the book now…maybe vol. 2?
Love a Burn’s Night supper, love a whisky – but with just a few days to go I wanted to see the challenge through so I skipped the booze. I did have a splash of whisky sauce on my haggis but I’m hoping you’ll let that pass. Our hosts Kris and Nick were amazing and came up with a gorgeous booze-free bramble cocktail made from an alcohol-free gin alternative, blackcurrant cordial and soda water, garnished with a raspberry. It was lovely, and even though I was in the minority of non-drinkers there were a few designated drivers around and it was great fun.
WEEK 4: The results
I don’t miss the hangovers, that’s for sure! I’m not sure what’s going to happen next for me. I still have a few AF beers and mocktails in the fridge to try, I think in all honesty, I think this month has changed a lot about what having a drink means to me. At home, we’re not vegan or vegetarian but most of the meals I cook tend to be meat-free. So perhaps a similar thing will happen with my drinking and alcohol will be, like meat be occasional. I’m quite into the idea of having a drinks party where a percentage of the drinks are 0% abv, not all but enough to skip the hangover the next day, worth a go. Fewer-booze Feb anyone?
How are you doing?
How has this last week been for you? Are you itching to celebrate with a glass of champers or are you secretly, or loudly, loving your new found sobriety? Were there any AF options that surprised you or is there still a gap in the market that alcohol-free hasn’t covered yet?