The Sipping News

The Sipping News

Dry January heralds the attempt for many to go cold turkey. There is a bit of a drinking revolution underway anyway. Teetotalism is on the rise among young adults while others are cutting back on their alcohol intake, perhaps having just one glass of something to accompany their meal and otherwise going alcohol free. Then there are those considerate designated drivers, giving up alcohol for an evening out. But nobody needs to feel they’re missing out on the drink experience as there’s an increasing range of low and no alcohol options available.  

First, what about a quick non-alcoholic cocktail from Mavrik - a recent addition to Hampshire Fare’s food and drink community? These “non-alcoholic drinks for the free spirited” are a range of great tasting, low calorie virgin cocktails in a can that are perfect for the party season or a guilt-free pick-me-up. They include Aromatic G&T, Cuban Mojito, Dark & Stormy and Venetian Spritz. Serving suggestions are simple - such as crushed mint leaves for the Mojito and a thin slice of fresh ginger for Dark & Stormy.

Next is Bowser Leaf, a non-alcoholic tipple from the ground-breaking Conker Spirit – one of the very first distilleries in the local area. Founder and Chief Distiller Rupert Holloway explains that the inspiration behind Bowser Leaf was the development of a drink that met the needs of mindful drinking, was a tasty and authentic alternative to spirits, and an equal in terms of cocktail creativity.

Rupert explains: “Bowser Leaf is honest craftsmanship using traditional equipment and techniques. Alcohol is the only omission! Bowser Leaf is derived entirely from the spring water distillation of five botanicals: mint, tarragon, patchouli, thyme and basil, for intricate and bold flavours in 25ml measures; lengthen with tonic for a crisp, bright and herbaceous 0% G&T.”

As for your tonic, you can make that local, too, with New Forest Tonic Waters. Made with New Forest Spring Water, they’re available in 250ml and 750ml bottles in a range that includes classic tonic and botanicals of elderflower and rhubarb. Serve over ice with a slice for a long, refreshing drink. Mix with luscious fruit juices from Hill Farm Juice for a delicious spritzer style drink.

Hill Farm Juice make ‘lovingly squished’ juices using apples and pears grown in their own Hampshire orchards. Sold in 250ml and 750ml sizes, the range of juices includes Apple With Elderflower and Apple With Ginger. They are brilliantly versatile. You can mix with tonic, soda or sparkling water for a long drink. Alternatively, simply serve in a wine glass. The crisp clarity of some varieties, such as Bramley, Cox, and Russet, gives them the appearance of sauvignon blanc!

Or what about a local full-flavoured tomato juice with a bit of a kick? Turner Hardy & Co was created by two friends as a result of a passion for local produce and healthy juice recipes. They now offer a range of tomato juices made from sweet Isle of Wight tomatoes. Available in Pure, Lively and Feisty versions, they can be drunk neat, with a dash of Worcestershire sauce, or as a base for mocktails such as a Virgin Mary.

Ale enthusiasts are well served, too. There’s low calorie, low alcohol Skinny Dog (1.5%) from Longdog Brewery, a family-run brewery offering a wide range of hand-crafted cask and bottle conditioned ales for all tastes, created from individual recipes and using traditional ingredients. 

Otherwise Steam Town Brew Co, a craft beer producer that was a finalist in the SIBA Business Awards 2021 for the UK’s Best Independent Craft Brewery Taproom, offers the surprisingly named eclectic named Drop Down Table. This is a drinkable Micro IPA (2.8%) with a soft peachy hop aroma and flavour. 

Last, but by no means least, is Hildon. This naturally filtered and purified mineral water is seen on all the very best tables (including royalty). Available in Still and Gently Sparkling, and described as tasting as crisp as country air, Hildon has a PH neutrality that makes it the perfect palate cleanser.

Cheers! And happy drinking...

Main picture Bowser Leaf, with thanks to Conker Spirit