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8 non-alcoholic drinks for any occasion

20 Apr 2021 • 4 min read

More and more people in the UK are cutting down on the amount of alcohol they drink – with many giving up entirely.

Terms like ‘sober-curious’ have entered the common lexicon, and you’re likely to find a mocktail selection at brunch alongside the usual boozy choices.

Around 20% of the UK population don’t drink alcohol – and this figure is on the increase, especially among the young.1

If non-alcoholic drinks are here to stay, then it’s time you familiarised yourself with what’s out there.

What can I drink instead of alcohol? 

Just because you’re not drinking, that doesn’t mean you need to choose a childish fizzy pop, or worse – bow out of grown-up gatherings.

Whether you’re out and about, or fancy an alcohol free tipple at home, our list should give you some ideas.

8 non-alcoholic drinks for any occasion 

  1. Sparkling wine 

Great for special occasions and toasts, it’s hard to beat a glass of something fizzy, and non alcoholic wine filled with sparkling bubbles ticks all the boxes.

Thomson & Scott Noughty Alcohol Free Organic Sparkling Wine 75cl

We love this version made with organic Chardonnay grapes.

  1.  Beer

Still the UK’s favourite alcoholic drink, beer has had an alcohol-free makeover in the last few years.2

While non-alcoholic beer is sometimes available on tap, most major beer brands offer a bottled non-alcoholic version of their popular brews.

Beware, though, as de-alcoholised varieties can contain up to 0.5% ABV.3

  1. Gin 

Non alcoholic gin has been a massive trend in recent years. The best varieties have a complex botanical flavour, perfect for using in G&T’s.

Seedlip Non-alcoholic Spirit Grove 42 5cl

This alcohol free gin variety made by Seedlip incorporates a bouquet of Mediterranean orange, lemon peel, ginger & lemongrass with a hint of Japanese Sansho Peppercorn.

  1. Kombucha

Perhaps you don’t fancy a drink that imitates alcohol – but want something a little more interesting than fruit juice or pop.

That’s where kombucha comes in.

Kombucha is a sweet, fermented tea drink with its origins in China.4 Kombucha contains B vitamins, beneficial probiotic bacteria and antioxidants.5

Captain Kombucha California Raspberry Bio-Organic Drink 400ml

Kombucha is a great accompaniment to both sweet and savoury food, and comes in a range of flavours like this raspberry one by Captain Kombucha.

Due to the way it's fermented, kombucha can contain traces of alcohol under 0.5% ABV, the same as an alcohol-free beer.

  1. Elderflower and lime infusion 

There are some great options for more luxurious alcohol free beverages, and this elderflower and lime infusion is a great example.

Kolibri Elderflower & Lime Alcohol Free Infusion 30cl

Made with high quality botanical ingredients, this elderflower and lime drink comes with a separate blend of agave nectar with hints of caramel.

You add the agave blend to your taste, so you can have the drink as sweet as you like.

  1. Rum and raisin

For a heart-warming drink without the booze, try Rochester Rum & Raisin drink.

Rochester Rum & Raisin Drink 725ml

Delicious poured over ice cubes for a summer BBQ or served warm like hot toddy for those cold winter nights, this is a quirky choice for non-drinkers who still want to enjoy an ‘adult’ drink.

  1. Ginger ale 

Despite the name, ginger ale is alcohol free.

Ginger ale is a great choice for someone not drinking. It could be its fiery flavour, but it feels a cut above the usual soft drink options. It also goes amazingly well with fish and chips!

Karma Cola Fairtrade Organic Gingerella Ginger Ale

We love this organic Fairtrade version!

  1. Virgin mojito

Non-alcoholic cocktails are fun to make at home – they photograph well too if you’re setting a table for a special occasion.

A virgin version of the classic mojito is easy to whip up.

  1. Simply crush fresh mint leaves with an inch of lime juice (freshly squeezed or bottled – it’s up to you) in a tall glass.
  2. Add a teaspoon of sugar and stir until dissolved.
  3. Add ice cubes to the glass.
  4. Pour over some soda water until the glass is 2/3 full. A dash of lime cordial is optional here.
  5. Stir it all up, making sure the sugar is dissolved. Add fresh mint leaves and fresh lime wedges to the top.

Why should I give up drinking? 

You don’t need us to tell you how damaging drinking too much alcohol can be to the body. After all, alcohol is a toxin, in the form of ethanol.

Alcohol passes easily through cell membranes and is metabolised by all tissues in the body.This means that there isn’t anywhere in your body which isn’t negatively affected by alcohol consumption – this includes the liver, heart, pancreas, gastrointestinal tract and even your skin.

Alcohol is a leading risk factor in many different diseases – and giving it up completely will lower your chance of dying from a disease such as cancer.7

An area of research which has attracted attention in recent years is the psychological toll that alcohol takes on people. Heavy alcohol use directly affects brain function and can be a contributing factor in the development of many common psychological problems.8

The benefits of not drinking – a timeline 

After 24 hours

After a day without alcohol, your liver will be hard at work removing any leftover alcohol from your system.9

You’ll probably get a better night’s sleep if you haven’t drunk any alcohol that day. It may take you a little longer to nod off if you’re used to a bedtime tipple, but the quality of the sleep you’ll get will be better due to more cycles of restorative REM sleep.10

After a week

You’ll be better hydrated after a week off the booze, as drinking alcohol causes you to lose water due to its diuretic effects.11

You might find your appetite also stabilise – with you making better food choices to boot.12

After 2 weeks 

You may already be experiencing weight loss at this point, thanks to ridding your diet of all those empty calories from alcohol (a large glass of wine packs 228kcal).13

Further, your stomach acid levels will have stabilised meaning reduced chances of getting acid reflux.14

After a month 

You can look forward to brighter eyes and skin, thanks to the removal of toxins plus all that extra water your skin is able to absorb now.15

For most mild to moderate drinkers, liver function will also be recovering to its pre-alcohol levels.16 This is great news for your whole body, as your hardworking liver plays a vital role in overall health.17

And the benefits just keep adding up! The longer you go without alcohol, the greater the positive impact on your health.

What is a good non alcoholic drink to order in a bar? 

Any bar that serves cocktails can make virgin cocktails. The best cocktails to order sans booze are those which don’t contain more than two types of alcohol to begin with. For example, a negroni is out as the only liquid it contains are gin, vermouth and Campari – ask for a virgin version and you might get served an empty glass!

More and more establishments are catering to non-drinkers, so are likely to offer alcohol free beer or even alcohol free wine or non alcoholic champagne.

What is considered a non alcoholic beverage? 

According to the UK government Low Alcohol Descriptors Guidance 201818

Low alcohol –1.2% ABV or below.

Alcohol free – contains no more than 0.05% ABV.

De-alcoholised – contains no more than 0.5% ABV.

Can you get drunk on non alcoholic drinks? 

So, if so-called alcohol free beverages can still contain traces of alcohol – will they still make you drunk?

The scientific answer is no – a 2012 German study measured the maximum blood alcohol concentration of 67 people after consuming of 1.5 litres non-alcoholic beer in an hour. Their blood alcohol level was still far below what would be considered drunk, with a maximum of 0.0056‰.19 To put this into perspective, the alcohol limit for drivers in UK countries ranged from 0.05% to 0.08%, far higher than could be achieved even with excessive drinking of non-alcoholic beer.20

Summary 

  • More people in the UK are drinking less, especially among the younger generations 
  • Giving up alcohol reduces your risk of various diseases 
  • The alcohol free beverage market is varied and growing in the UK 
  • ‘Alcohol free’ drinks like beer and wine still contain traces of alcohol, but they don’t make you drunk 

Top non alcoholic drinks...

Last updated: 7 April 2021

Sources

  1. https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/research/research-and-evaluation-reports/alcohol-consumption-uk
  2. https://www.statista.com/statistics/289976/expenditure-on-beer-in-the-united-kingdom-uk/
  3. https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/facts/alcoholic-drinks-and-units/difference-between-alcoholic-and-non-alcoholic-beers
  4. https://www.forbes.com/sites/christinatroitino/2017/02/01/kombucha-101-demystifying-the-past-present-and-future-of-the-fermented-tea-drink/?sh=3fbeebf64ae2
  5. https://time.com/5516472/is-kombucha-healthy/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3959903/
  7. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(18)31310-2/fulltext
  8. https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh26-2/90-98.htm
  9. https://alcoholchange.org.uk/blog/2021/one-week-alcohol-free-whats-happening-in-your-body
  10. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/nutrition/alcohol-and-sleep
  11. https://www.priorygroup.com/blog/benefits-of-giving-up-alcohol-for-a-month
  12. https://www.eatthis.com/what-happens-to-your-body-stop-drinking-alcohol/
  13. https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/facts/alcoholic-drinks-and-units/units-and-calories-in-alcoholic-drinks/wine
  14. https://www.priorygroup.com/blog/benefits-of-giving-up-alcohol-for-a-month
  15. https://www.priorygroup.com/blog/benefits-of-giving-up-alcohol-for-a-month
  16. https://www.priorygroup.com/blog/benefits-of-giving-up-alcohol-for-a-month
  17. https://www.priorygroup.com/blog/benefits-of-giving-up-alcohol-for-a-month
  18. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/763840/low-alcohol-descriptors-guidance.pdf
  19. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00194-012-0835-8#page-1
  20. https://www.drinkdriving.org/worldwide_drink_driving_limits.php
 
bhupesh-panchal

Bhupesh Panchal

Author

Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate

Joined Holland & Barrett: April 2019

Masters Degree in Toxicology and BSc Hons in Medical Biochemistry

Bhupesh started his career as a Clinical Toxicologist for Public Health England, advising healthcare professionals all around the country on how to manage clinical cases of adverse exposure to supplements, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial chemicals and agricultural products.

After 7 years in this role and a further year working as a drug safety officer in the pharmaceutical industry, Bhupesh joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.
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