Non-alcoholic Christmas drinks: here’s what the experts will be serving

Non-alcoholic Christmas drinks: here’s what the experts will be serving

Non-alcoholic Christmas drinks have always been a toughie. It’s a time of celebration – a time for having something that little bit special – so the usual non-alcoholic options just don’t cut it. A glass of sparkling water at the office Christmas party feels a lot like a bad afterthought, just as a glass of orange juice (maybe with another splash of sparkling water) on Christmas morning feels like any other day. It’s no wonder that so many people who are choosing not to drink say they feel a bit left out.

With this in mind, because we know so many people who are working to provide alternatives, and because so many more people are now drinking less, we decided we’d put together a list of great non-alcoholic Christmas drinks. We got on the phone, dropped into a few bars, pulled a few chefs out of busy Michelin-starred kitchens, yanked brewers from non-alc breweries, and we asked the simple question: “this Christmas, which non-alcoholic drinks will you be serving up?”

Here are a few of our favourites – great non-alcoholic Christmas drinks to help you celebrate throughout December, whether you’re completely teetotal or simply keen to give your liver a rest.

 

This Year’s Non-Alcoholic Christmas Drinks List

Aubergine Old-Fashioned

Paul Lobban
Fera at Claridge’s
Senior Sous Chef

Think Claridge’s, think one of London’s most established, high-end hotels. Step behind the doors at Fera, their Michelin-starred restaurant, and you’ll find a team at the cutting-edge of cuisine. Paul Lobban has enough non-alcoholic cocktail recipes to write his own book, and we hope to be able to publish a few more of them one day. For the time being, however, here’s something that reads as much like a mad scientist’s diary entry as it does an incredible non-alcoholic recipe.

“I originally smoked some aubergines over peat from Glenlivet and pepper corns for an oyster dish, but when I tasted the liquid I was like, ‘Wow! It actually tastes like whiskey!’ We had a chocolate dish which was made with pine and whiskey at the time, and I said this would be great with an Old Fashioned (my fave cocktail). Then, like a light bulb, I was like, ‘I’m going to make an Aubergine Old Fashioned!’ So I mixed up the liquid from the smoked aubergine, bitters, brown sugar, ice and the oil/zest from an orange peel. I couldn’t believe it didn’t have whiskey in it! So I went all-out and served it up in whiskey tumblers and everything.”

Non-alcoholic Prosecco

Tom Peters
Roux at Parliament Square
Senior Sous Chef

Tom is one of the country’s up-and-coming star chefs, formerly of Masterchef Professionals, currently plying his trade at the Michel Roux restaurant at Parliament Square. He’s also typical of many younger people in London, in that he drinks alcohol but it’s not his raison d’etre. As you’ll see, he likes to keep a clear head for something that requires a bit of focus.

“Although Christmas is a time for lots of parties, for many of us it isn’t about drinking loads of alcohol. I am training for a marathon next year, and I can honestly say that Real Kombucha has been a saviour for me. I still want to treat myself, of course, but without feeling the negative effects of the booze. There are lots of great alcohol alternatives available on the market, but in my opinion, none are as sophisticated as Real Kombucha. Moderation is key though. I’ll still be having a good bourbon with my brother on Christmas Eve!”

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Merry Christmas everyone. Wishing you the happiest day with your friends and families. Thank you for supporting me this past year and for all the laughs, love and funny little conversations. I’m so blessed to have been able to connect with so many lovely souls. So looking forward to a new year of cooking, stories and adventures with all of you. But for today I will be sitting by the fire and eating mince pies with brandy butter. Have a wonderful wonderful day! . . #christmas #christmasmagic #misstletoe #whpcelebrate #WHPinspired #livemoremagic #lifeslittlestories #astilllifestyle #alittlebeautyeveryday #simplethingsmadebeautiful #seekthesimplicity #lovegreatbritain #lovethescent #liveforthestory #liveauthentic #livefolk #foragebyfolk

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Seedlip Spice and all things nice

Alexandra Dudley
www.alexandradudley.com
Food writer, artist, entrepreneur

It’s hard to pin down precisely what Alexandra does, but whatever she turns her hand to exudes quality. An artist, an author, an organiser of hugely popular supper clubs… the success of her cookbook, Land & Sea, suggests she’s about as foodie as it gets. So, what’ll she be serving friends and family as a non-alcoholic Christmas drink?

“When everyone is drinking bubbly kombucha, I like to garnish mine with a slice of fresh orange. It’s got the bubbles and it tastes great out of a champagne glass. I make my own, but you can buy one and jazz it up with some fresh orange peel as a festive twist or some cranberry syrup to make it a bit more festive.

“I’ll also be serving Seedlip Spice with sparkling water, a wedge of orange and a clove. Seedlip is a delicious, alcohol-free distilled spirit. The Spice is my favourite, as it’s incredibly festive with notes of cinnamon. I love it with soda water or sparkling water, with a garnish of orange studded with a whole clove. It tastes delicious with kombucha and ginger, too.”

Xmas Cider Vinegar

Joey O’Hare
Food With Time
Chef, founder

Joey is well-known in the food world, and something of a household name due to her appearance on Masterchef Professionals in 2015. Much like our old friend, Matt Campbell, she is a strong advocate of fermentation and cooking with the seasons, so we love what she gets up to. Her pop-ups and events are the stuff of legend. What will she recommend for a non-alc Christmas?

“This drink has a delicious savoury tang akin to a drink with alcohol. It’s seriously sharp and refreshing, and feels very light and clean which is a nice antidote to the heavier food around Christmas time. Live apple cider vinegar with the mother still included is beneficial to gut health, too. Mix the honey, lemon and apple cider vinegar together well before topping with ice and soda.”

Ingredients… 

2 tablespoons live apple cider vinegar
Juice 1/2 lemon
I teaspoon runny honey
Ice & soda water
Serve in a tall glass

Nectar of the Gods

Elton Moura
Remarkable Pubs
Managing Director

As the MD of one of London’s most forward-thinking pub chains, Elton is ideally positioned to see how attitudes to non-drinking are changing for the better. He’s also got quick and easy access to some of the best new non-alcoholic drinks on the block.

“I have a couple of suggestions. If you’re going to the pub but don’t want alcohol, I would wholeheartedly recommend Real Kombucha as a brilliant alcohol alternative. It is a drink that will make you go, “nom nom nom… ooh”, as you discover the next big thing in a sector that is finally growing up.

“Alternatively, on paper, Shrubs shouldn’t work. They are drinks made with vinegar, herbs and spices, for goodness sake! However, never judge a book by its cover. Give them a go. The combination works so well, they may leave you wondering, as I did, “Why on earth have I been drinking Diet Coke all these years when this wonderful Nectar of the Gods exists?”

Berries and Booch

George Pugsely
Burger & Lobster
Head of Bar

George Pugsley oversees the drinks choices at Burger & Lobster, one of the most talked-about restaurant groups in the country. He tells us…

“This Christmas, our non-alcoholic drinks options have grown. This is because we are keeping up with growing trends we are seeing in our customers’ demand: more soft options are being welcomed.

“In line with this, this season, I’d have to highlight our Berry Cooler – a vitamin-packed and seasonally-coloured soft shell. Contributing to one of your five-a-day, this is a cold-busting tipple that should be on everyone’s radar as the weather gets colder.

“Secondly, Real Kombucha’s Royal Flush is a must-have. Served in our restaurants as a non-alcoholic alternative to Prosecco, the perfect grown-up non-alcoholic drink has finally arrived. Not only does this visually re-include non-drinkers by being served in a wine glass, but its delicate floral acidity makes it the ideal celebration drink and one that can be enjoyed all evening long.”

Super simple

Tim Etherington-Judge
Healthy Hospo
Founder 

Tim is an example of what we like to call The Modern Drinker, meaning he drinks for the enjoyment of the craft and the flavour rather than for the its more debauched qualities, and he regularly goes long periods between drinks. As the founder of Healthy Hospo, his mission is to bring a more healthy focus to the world of hospitality. We asked him which non-alcoholic drinks he’ll be looking forward to pouring this Christmas.

“Here’s a delicious, fruity alternative to mulled wine that’s super simple to make and the kids will love too. You will need:

Organic apple juice
Cinnamon sticks
Star anise
Cloves

“Here’s how I like to put it together. Warm the apple juice over a crackling open log fire, add a couple of sticks of cinnamon, star anise, a couple of pegs of cloves, and then serve it with a dehydrated apple ring. Merry Christmas!”

Smokey specials

Camille Vidal
La Maison Wellness
Founder and author

Camille Vidal is the author of How To Drink French Fluently and Founder of La Maison Wellness, the online home for living well with a French twist. She is a wellness expert, yoga teacher and drinks advocate, and is also known as ‘Madame St-Germain’, the global ambassador for French elderflower liqueur, St-Germain. Her Christmas non-alcoholic drinks are kombucha-based recipes of her own creation.

“Kombucha have been part of my daily routine and my cocktail creation repertoire for a while now. It’s such a great alternative when you feel like something fizzy but don’t want a sugary soda. Not only is it delicious and refreshing, but its also good for your guts! I’ve tried many brands and many styles of kombucha, but I have to say Real Kombucha is by far one of my favourites. No flavours are added – it’s just the beauty of the teas and the techniques of brewing that give them such an elegant taste. These kombuchas are easy to mix in cocktails or to enjoy on their own. Here are a couple of great recipes.”

Green Beast

20ml Seedlip
10ml cucumber syrup
2 dashes lemon essential oil
Top up with Real Kombucha Dry Dragon
Build in a highball over ice
Garnish with a cucumber ribbon

Long Smoke

10ml turmeric honey
20ml orange, lemon & ginger juice
Top up with Real Kombucha Smoke House
Build in a highball over ice
Garnish with a rosemary and orange wedge with cloves

Stout and sturdy

Joe Kean
Nirvana Brewery
Co-Founder

Nirvana is one of London’s first entirely non-alcoholic breweries. They specialise in creating non-alcoholic beers, lagers, ales and stouts for all drinking occasions. We asked co-founder, Joe Kean, which he’ll be pouring this Christmas.

Nirvana Kosmic Stout is definitely the one to go for. It’s lighter than your typical stout so it goes great with a meal, and its roasted chocolate flavour gives it a wonderful Christmassy edge.

“Also FitBeer’s classic Bavarian Helles Lager is always one to consider. Crisp, well balanced and super healthy, it’s an excellent choice all year round.”

No Christmas compromise

Robyn Simms
Square Root
Founder

Robyn is a non-drinker who founded Square Root Soda in 2013, with the aim of brewing interesting drinks with the same kind of focus and passion as an alcohol brewer might. Sounds familiar to us! Here’s what she’ll be serving this Christmas.

“I would recommend people try and find non-alcoholic versions of their favourite drinks. It helps you to not worry about missing out on anything by not drinking alcohol, allowing you to focus your time on important things like spending time with loved ones. My favourite, I would say, is the Negroni Soda we made as part of our Xmas cocktails. I love a Negroni so what I wanted to achieve with that drink was a sophisticated version of a soda that had all the right flavours of a Negroni, lower sugar and none of the booze. It really doesn’t feel like you’re compromising on anything by drinking it and, for me, that’s perfect.”

A wintery gem

Luke Suddards
Sandows
Co-Founder

Cold brew coffee is all the rage at the moment, and the King of Cold Brew Coffees is undoubtedly Sandows. But how to get it onto our list of non-alcoholic Christmas drinks? We’ll let our buddy Luke Suddards, the co-founder of the brand, explain…

“I’m a little biased here on more than one account as Ben (founder of Seedlip) is a friend and the drink I’m talking about has Sandows in it! Nonetheless its an obvious choice for the winter season, and who doesn’t love an Espresso Martini? Therefore, who wouldn’t love Seedlip’s non-alcoholic take on this gem – the Espresso MartiNO!”

The following recipe was put together by the Seedlip team, and can be found on their website.

Seedlip Spice 94: 50ml/2oz
Sandows Cold Brew Concentrate: 50ml/2oz
Sugar Syrup: 15ml/0.5oz
Garnish: 3x Coffee Beans

The method couldn’t be more simple: shake and double strain.

Mulling it over

David Begg
Real Kombucha
Founder

It’d be a bit peculiar if we wrote a whole article about the best non-alcoholic Christmas drinks and left our own opinions out of it, don’t you think? Here’s David Begg, the man behind Real Kombucha, with his own take on a Yuletide classic.

“Throughout the Christmas period my wife has a batch of mulled wine continuously on the stove, giving the house an amazing aroma of mulled spice. But last year she swapped the wine for our Royal Flush and produced a fantastic warming spiced brew which we call Mulled Booch. Prepared just like a mulled wine, it’s a delicious weave of bruised cardamom, cinnamon, lemon zest and festivity. It’s a great winter drink.” 

Not drinking? These pubs are inviting non-drinkers to rejoin the party

Not drinking? These pubs are inviting non-drinkers to rejoin the party

Ever tried a night off the alcohol? If a good drink is part of your typical evening out, it’s not easy. Whether you’re a designated driver, pregnant, taking on a sober month or simply having a night off, the choices you’re left with are usually packed full of sugar or served with a straw. We’re not asking for the height of sophistication here, but something non-alcoholic and adult-oriented might be nice.

It’s for these reasons that we started brewing Real Kombucha, and for these reasons that we’re launching our Rejoin the Party campaign. We’ve been working with some pretty amazing pubs for some time – places like the Barworks Group that have noticed that people are drinking far less, far more consciously – and in the last couple of months we’ve partnered with Fullers and Laine’s, two huge pub chains that recognise the interests of what we call “The Modern Drinker”.

The Modern Drinker

Modern drinkers are not necessarily teetotal, but they are looking for an alternative to alcohol to suit those occasions when they fancy something different. They’re looking for something with that complex, fermented flavour; something with a bit of a bite; something that pours like an adult drink, and something that avoids the usual sweetness. They’re looking for something that they can drink comfortably all night – something that keeps the party interesting rather than bringing the evening to a close.

They’re also happy to live and let live. Any longterm non-drinker will tell you that there has been a peculiar tendency in this country to question any adult who walks into a pub and orders something other than alcohol. It seems that the UK is one of the few countries where you feel you have to apologise for not ordering an intoxicating substance! Thankfully, that’s changing. You’re far less likely to be asked “what’s wrong with you?” when ordering something non-alcoholic than you were even three or four years ago. Behaviours are shifting. People are changing the way they drink, in part because we’re more open-minded to different lifestyles, and partly because the options are opening up.

Rejoin the Party

Here’s what Mr Real Kombucha (David Begg) has to say on the matter.

“With as many as three pubs closing every day in this country, and almost 30% of people between the ages of 18 and 24 claiming to be teetotal, it’s easy to see that the Modern Drinker is looking for a wider range of options. That’s why we’re so pleased to be working with these amazing pub groups who recognise how quickly drinking behaviour is changing in this country, and are adapting accordingly. Non-drinkers have been excluded from the party for too long. We’re here to throw the pub doors open and let people know: the great British pub has listened. Everyone is welcome!”

So how can you get involved and help people feel more confident about changing their drinking behaviour? 

Well, firstly, take a look at our Rejoin the Party page. You’ll find all the info you to help you find a pub that now caters to the Modern Drinker by serving Real Kombucha. You’ll also find a section that celebrates how you’re changing the way you drink. Tag your Instagram photos with #RejoinTheParty and we’ll share them with the world.

Other than that, sharing this page with your friends and family would be a great start. The more people that know the options are out there, the better. You’ll find us by clicking on this Facebook link, this Twitter link, this Instagram link and this LinkedIn link (because office parties need non-alcoholic options, too!)

We’re looking forward to seeing you out there.

A Christmas kombucha recipe for mulled booch

A Christmas kombucha recipe for mulled booch

In years gone by, the idea of a non-alcoholic Christmas would’ve been unthinkable. (Indeed, there are members of our team that can’t even remember Christmases in years gone by because of the alcohol.) However, as anyone who reads our blog regularly will know, we’re excited by these more modern times in which choice isn’t seen as a bad thing and non-drinkers are welcomed back to rejoin the party. We often say we’re “Brewed for open minds”, and there has never been a better time for open-mindedness in the world of food and drink.

With so many people turning away from heavy drinking these days, it’s pretty much a given that a good number of people turning up at your Christmas party will be looking for an alternative. If it’s a non-alcoholic Prosecco they’re after, give them a flute of Royal Flush. If they’re looking for a non-alcoholic cider, or something that feels more like a real ale, pour them a glass of our Smoke House. If they’d like something that feels a little lighter altogether, a nice glass of our Dry Dragon should do the trick.

However, if they’re really in the mood for something festive, we’ve got just the thing. Pardon the pun, but you could say we’ve been mulling this one over for some time…

Mulled Booch Recipe

Put a spin on mulled wine with Real Kombucha’s festive recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 bottles of Real Kombucha Royal Flush
  • 2 teaspoons demerara sugar
  • Zest of 1/4 of a lemon or 3-4 vertical shavings off a medium lemon
  • 6 bruised green cardamom pods
  • 1” piece of cinnamon stick and/ or star anise

Mulled booch method

  • Add the two bottles of Royal Flush to the pan and bring to a boil
  • Add the demerara sugar, lemon zest, 6 cardamom pods, and a 1” piece of cinnamon stick
  • Steep for at least 20 minutes to let the flavours round out
  • Remove the ingredients so you don’t overwhelm the drink
  • Serve in a glass and garnish with lemon

What we’ve found in our experimentations is that star anise in place of the cardamom works really well. It’s also the case that some people prefer more sugar for a sweeter taste – each to their own! Oh, and one more thing: be careful with the cinnnamon – you can have too much of a good thing, and it has a tendency to overpower the other flavours in the mulled booch when used without self control!

Non-Alcoholic Drinks: Everything you ever wanted to know (and more)

Non-Alcoholic Drinks: Everything you ever wanted to know (and more)

We’re pretty proud of the fact that, despite having only just reached our first birthday, Real Kombucha is being written about as the choice when it comes to non-alcoholic drinks. In little over a year, we’ve found ourselves on the selection list in articles by The IndependentThe MetroThe Times, and The Guardian, on the shelves at over 40 Michelin-starred restaurants, and listed at pub chains as well-known as Fullers. And, with around 30% of young drinkers now claiming to be teetotal, it’s a great time to be serving the non-drinking community. We regularly raise a glass of booch to each and every one of you. (more…)

Kombucha UK: why all kombuchas are not created equally

Kombucha UK: why all kombuchas are not created equally

Our summer festival season has drawn to a close, and we’re in the midst of looking over what we’ve learnt. Part of this process involves sifting through questions we’ve answered during our time chatting with customers, and one that came up again and again concerning UK kombucha was this: there are so many kinds on the market these days, so what’s the difference? (more…)