Former supermarket wine buyer turned author, Helen McGinn, made her name as a writer with her Knackered Mother’s Wine Club and cleverly crafted tips for mums looking for a relaxing glass of wine once the kids were in bed. Now she is helping all of us with some grown up non-alcoholic drink ideas to help us be dry (for a day or two) but still able to enjoy our evening “relaxer”.
“Thank Friday. It’s a soft drink!” OK it may not have the same appeal, but thanks to Helen McGinn’s new book, Teetotal Tipples, we can all try and be dry for a while with some interesting, tasty and imaginative non-alcoholic drinks.
First things first, I never thought I’d write a book about not drinking. My last book, The Knackered Mother’s Wine Club, was all about wine. And to be honest, the idea of doing a dry January always struck me as a rather silly one. Because a) life’s too short and b) see a.
Anyway, thanks to testing a theory about ‘wine face’ for a newspaper article (yes, really – I’ll explain another time) I ended up going dry for a month. And just a few days in realised that the hardest part about not drinking wasn’t so much the not drinking. Rather, it was finding something interesting and vaguely grown up to drink in the evening in place of my usual glass of wine/G&T/whatever.
I was happy to stick to water all day, but to mark the shift in gear from day to evening, I wanted something with a bit of theatre to it, to sip rather than gulp. Also: not full of sugar. Basically, something my children wouldn’t drink.
Thankfully, the grown up soft drinks market really has grown up in recent years. Producers like Luscombe, Fentiman’s and Belvoir among others have taken premium soft drinks way beyond elderflower cordial. As for tonics, Fever Tree has shaken up the sector much as Hendricks did with gin before that with new artisan brands sprouting quicker than a hipster’s beard.
As more drinkers choose to stay dry for whatever reason – driving, health – so producers are coming up with clever ways to do booze-free in a grown up way.
Founder Ben Branson’s non-alcoholic spirit Seedlip was Selfridges fastest selling bottle in the booze department last Christmas. Since then, it’s gone from strength to strength despite not having any actual strength.
With a thirst for grown up booze-free drinks and consumers willing to pay for quality products, now’s the time to look at your soft options.
The Buyer’s review
Helen McGinn’s Teetotal Tipples looks to offer a non-alcoholic solution to adults who like to drinks. It might sound like a book just for those who are strictly, and officially off the booze. This is actually a great, handy guide for all of us who probably (doctor’s orders after all) need to have at least a couple of nights alcohol free each week. But don’t want to just have to resort to water or a glass of fruit juice to perk up our evenings.
No matter how virtuous we want to be, nothing quite beats that first (alcoholic) drink after a long stressful day. Can you really replace a gin and tonic with just the tonic. Even if it does cost more than £2 a mini bottle and has quinine extracted direct from a warlord’s Congo jungle.
That is what makes McGinn’s book a very welcome addition to your drinks books list. It includes lots of ideas and recipes for soft drinks and cocktails that look and sound interesting, but have none of that booze stuff in them.
So if you are struggling for something for Aunty Maude to buy you for Christmas, this is much better tonic than a re-cycled bottle of cheap sherry. And a lot better for you.