It’s been 10 months since 18 year-old Yasmin Dean has had an alcoholic drink, before then she was rarely seen without one. Too many parties later she decided to quit, has never looked back and was a natural to taste through the range of Lyre’s non-alcoholic ‘spirits’ when they got sent to The Buyer. But drunk neat and in mocktails do they match up to the real thing? How do they compare to Seedlip? And which would she pick and feel happy drinking when she was out partying?
“I haven’t been blown away by the options that are out there. I simply cannot justify spending £12 on a “No-jito” that does more for my waistline than it does for my taste buds.”
At the ripe age of 18 years old I made the brave decision to start a teetotal lifestyle. My life prior to this was that of a normal British teenager – starting independently drinking at the age of 14, buying putrid cider and the cheapest bottle of vodka from the offie. Ironically, as I approached the legal age to drink my relationship with booze started to turn sour. A pint in the pub quickly turned to six and an early evening G&T turned into polishing off an entire bottle. Being a 50kg, 5ft4in, 17-year-old it’s clear to see that this was far from being sustainable.
Coming from a family where the wine pairing is praised often more than the meal, it took a while to accept that alcohol and I were not a fit match. After a year of weekly blackouts and my friends puzzle-piecing evenings for me, alcohol and I underwent our overdue breakup. Now, two weeks shy of 19 and 10 months sober I am the happiest and healthiest I’ve ever felt. Fortunately for me drinking was never about liquid courage and I’ve been enjoying my same party lifestyle without being inebriated.
Despite being more than content with my new life choice, I do often miss the taste of certain alcoholic beverages. I always appreciated a good gin or a special bottle of red from my dad’s collection, so soft drinks that resembled alcoholic ones have always enticed a certain curiosity.
I must admit that I haven’t been blown away by the options that are out there. I simply cannot justify spending £12 on a “No-jito” that does more for my waistline than it does for my taste buds. Rather than drinking alcohol-free drinks as often as I would have had alcohol, I drink them solely for occasions – toasting at a celebration with a glass of water doesn’t quite feel appropriate. My drink of choice is more often than not a simple ginger ale with a slice of orange, simple I know, but after tasting Seedlip the world of alcohol-free ‘spirits’ no longer appealed.
When presented with three bottles of Lyre’s non-alcoholic ‘spirits’ I was instantly sceptical, all I could envision was that awful hay-like taste of Seedlip. Fortunately after a few hours of cocktail mixing and ‘shot’ taking I was more than impressed.
I can appreciate that the London Dry Spirit will have an appeal as a gin/vodka substitute, however I don’t believe that the drink is strong enough to carry itself on its own, personally I found it too watery and I wouldn’t rush to buy it. However, once the Dry Spirit meets the Italian Orange it’s a game changer. For example used in a Pink Gin Fizz (recipe at end of article) which used equal measures of London Dry Spirit and Italian Orange, it was simply delicious.
I completely forgot how much I enjoyed the ritual of mixing a drink, taking the time to create a small treat that is sipped and appreciated with every swallow. The Elderflower tonic lifted the drink and removed the watery element from the Dry Spirit. It’s definitely a drink that I would order for the odd occasion.
The other cocktail I loved was the Lyre’s Dark and Spicy, using the Spiced Cane Spirit. The likeness to spiced rum is extraordinary, from the smell alone it’s rather hard to believe it has zero alcohol content. For me the Dark and Spicy tasted like summer. It was perfectly balanced with the sweetness from the vanilla and the spirit, mixed with the tartness from the lime. It’s definitely a drink I’ll be reaching for before a club night to excite my spirits. Since my evening of mocktail mixing I haven’t made myself another cocktail using these spirits, I have though poured a small glass of Italian Orange over ice with a slice of orange. It’s a stunning drink, a bitter very close to Campari, to enjoy before dinner that satisfies my taste buds.
At £23.50 a bottle these drinks don’t come cheap. I would happily spend the money if they didn’t have a shelf life of 12 weeks. It’s a very short time to consume 700ml on your own. If I lived with another person who was teetotal it wouldn’t be an issue, unfortunately for me that’s not the case. I would recommend that Lyre’s produces all of these drinks in smaller formats – currently you can get hold of Italian Orange in a 200ml size, for example – for me this is a perfect item that I would definitely be purchasing.
As for the ideal Lyre’s consumer? In my opinion that would be a person who enjoys the taste of alcohol yet would rather not feel the effects, regardless of the reason. Having previously had excessive drinking habits I was somewhat scared that a drink which resembled alcohol so closely would give me a thirst for the real thing. I can confidently say for myself that simply didn’t happen. I know that I’ll be continuing to drink my Italian Orange over ice, and the odd Lyre’s based mocktail; hopefully I’ll manage to consume them before they expire.
Those ‘mocktail’ recipes in full:
Lyre’s Pink Gin Fizz
Lyre’s Dry London Spirit 30ml
Lyre’s Italian Orange 30ml
Premium Bottled Elderflower Tonic 90ml
2 Lemon Slices
1 Orange Slice
Method: Add over ice and stir.
Garnish: Orange Slice & Plump Mint Sprig
Lyre’s Dark ‘n Spicy
Lyre’s Spiced Cane 60ml
Lime Juice 15ml
Premium Vanilla Syrup 7.5ml
Premium Bottled Ginger Beer 90ml
Method: Add ingredients. Fill with ice. Stir
Garnish: Lime Wheel
Lyre’s Italian Orange on Ice
Lyre’s Italian Orange 60ml
Method: Add ingredients in glass over ice.
Glassware: Double Rocks
Garnish: Orange Slice