Alternative drinks to alcohol
Or: what on earth is there to drink now? Either at the pub or at home. Maybe the most common question we get is this: what could I drink now that I don’t want wine, beer or spirits anymore? It can be a difficult one, especially when you’re out and about. As much as we’d like all pubs and bars to have a great selection of non-alcoholic drinks, that just isn’t the case at the moment. Not many adults can drink several pints of soft drinks (all that sugar), or plain water (no taste) in one evening. And that’s often what the alternatives on offer are. We give our ideas for the best drinks, both for home, and for ordering in the pub. We have also put together some thoughts on how to choose a drink if you’re diabetic.
You can find all of our drink suggestion articles here (and also from the top menu: articles / drink suggestions).
Parties and events
To get you started, here are Club Soda’s tips on making non-drinking guests feel special at parties. It was written to help people organising parties and events cater for all of their guests, but it has many ideas for non-alcoholic drinks to try – even without a party!
Soft drinks doesn’t always have to mean the usual sugary suspects. Here’s a blog post about soft brews – smugness while drinking is optional. And old-fashioned lemonades can also be a healthier choice with less sugar: here’s one brand we like. And this article lists some soft drinks especially for Christmas and winter.
Tea and coffee
Many pubs will serve tea and coffee until closing time. And if yours doesn’t, ask them to do so! If you don’t want to drink caffeine in the evening, you can always bring your own herbal teas with you – just ask for hot water! Our friend Kyle did a whole guest webinar on tea for us.
Also sometimes known as softails, though we prefer to just call them (non-alcoholic) cocktails. Some bars are very good at offering non-alcoholic cocktails as well as the traditional kind. Sadly, many other bars are not quite so enlightened. But in this blog post, a Club Soda member shows us how to make sure that you get to enjoy fancy drinks like everyone else, even if you’re not drinking alcohol. And what the unexpected benefits were! We have some recipes for low and no-alcohol Aperol Spritz too.
Low-alcohol and non-alcoholic beers and wines
This type of drink can divide opinion: some really like the idea of still having a beer or two even when they’ve given up alcohol, whereas others see no point in drinking something that just reminds them of booze. But there is clearly enough of a demand for them, as the choice is getting better all the time. Whatever your reason for wanting a no-alcohol or low-alcohol beer or wine, we try to find out what the best brands are. Because honestly: some of these are not very nice…
Our first review of wines is here. An expert guest blog has tasting notes of many de-alcoholised wines. And a few more were reviewed by Laura and Jussi on a recent night out. Here are some more non-alcoholic wine recommendations and sparkling alcohol-free drinks.
For beers, we have organised some tasting evenings. A series of blogs lists the beers and ales we tried: first one is on the no-alcohol types, the second on the low-alcohol ones. The next two are again split into non-alcoholic and low-alcohol beers. And this blog post is written after a disappointing visit to a beer festival. Our latest (nearly) 0% beer tasting event found some members favourites, Jen listed 10 low and no alcohol craft beers, and our member Hugo listed some of his favourites too. And we have also learned about pairing food with beers!
Definitions of low and no alcohol beer and wine
Broadly, in the the UK, low and no alcohol beers and wines are split into the following categories:
- Alcohol-free: Contains 0.05% alcohol or less
- De-alcoholised: Contains 0.5% alcohol or less (in practical terms non-alcoholic)
- Low-alcohol: contains more than 0.5% but no more than 1.2%
And, of course, there are completely non-alcoholic drinks, i.e. drinks that contain no alcohol at all (0%). In most of Europe the situation is less complicated. Drinks containing up to 0.5% alcohol are classed simply as alcohol-free and they do not use the ugly word de-alcoholised.
Some of UK drinks contain up to 0.5% of alcohol by volume. To put this into context, a normal glass of fresh orange juice can naturally contain up to 0.5% alcohol. Malt vinegar you put on your chips is about 0.2% alcohol. But if you are very strict about avoiding alcohol completely for any reason, you may want to avoid “non-alcoholic” beers and wines too.