For reasons not quite clear to anyone, about a quarter of all drinkers in the UK give up the stuff in January. Some claim health benefits after a gloriously drunken December holiday. Others wish to save money. Regardless, it creates a problem – what to drink when you are not drinking? Your choices are usually water (boring) or a selection of sickly sweet carbonated drinks or fruit juices. It is debatable whether there are any health benefits in giving up alcohol and replacing it with sugar.
In South Africa I discovered the Rock Shandy. This drink is a delightfully grown up non alcoholic mix of one part carbonated lemonade (or Sprite/Seven Up), one part soda and a generous dash of Angostura Bitters, sometimes garnished with a slice of lemon and a Maraschino cherry. The bitters turns the drink an appetising shade of Campari-like orange and provide a slight bitterness that adds depth and body. In Malawi a popular variation is to replace the soda water with spicy ginger beer.
If you have managed to make it this far into the New Year without a drink, congratulations! Mix up a Rock Shandy and look forward to that first martini in a few days. Cheers!
The Artesian Bar at the Langham Hotel in London, voted the Best Bar in the World 2013, has a delightfully inventive non alcoholic cocktail menu. My favourite is the non alcoholic G&T made by infusing tonic water with gin botanicals (primarily Juniper). Drunk over ice with a slice of lime, you barely notice the absence of spirits.