Sunday, August 7

Sober Curious: Celebrating your Free Spirit

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No alcohol? No problem. Thanks to the ‘no and low’ alcohol movement, there are plenty of sophisticated alcohol-free spirits on the market for you to enjoy. So, you won’t have to sacrifice taste, enjoyment or the flavour of top-quality natural ingredients. The only thing you’ll miss is the hangover.

It’s no surprise that the ‘no and low ‘alcohol movement is gaining momentum. If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the past couple of years, it’s that your health is your most important asset. We are more aware than ever of what we put into our bodies and are constantly looking for healthier alternatives – this goes for drinking habits too. For many people it was about making a start by cutting out alcohol for the month of July; giving your liver a break, lowering your blood pressure, losing weight, being clear-headed and being able to drive yourself home. What’s not to like?

Of course, it doesn’t have to be Dry July for you to adopt this lifestyle change. You can embark on a month-long sober journey at any point. To get you motivated, here are a few pointers for sober curious socialites:

PriceCheck tip: Find the best prices on ice-makers and bar fridges on PriceCheck!

Dry July drinks

PriceCheck tip: Find the best prices on alcoholic spirits, like rum, whiskey, and gin, on PriceCheck!

What to drink when you’re not ‘drinking’

Okay, you’ve made the decision, so now what are you going to drink? Sugary cool drinks and non-alcoholic beers used to be the only alternatives to alcohol. Fortunately, these days there’s a wide range of sophisticated alcohol-free distilled spirits made specifically for adults. Crafted and distilled in the same traditional way using natural ingredients, zero-alcohol spirits give you the freedom to skip the alcohol without sacrificing the taste or that sense of celebration when enjoying a drink with friends.

One of the pioneers of alcohol-free drinks is the UK’s Ben Branson who, to solve the problem of what to drink when you’re not drinking, created Seedlip — the world’s first non-alcoholic distilled spirit. Infused with botanicals and made without sugar or artificial ingredients, Seedlip has zero calories, plus the copper pot distillation produces the same complex flavours as their alcoholic counterparts.

South African distillers weren’t far behind, and our locally made, alcohol-free spirits are up there with the best. Inspired by the Cape’s indigenous flora and culinary history, the aptly named Abstinence collection has three variants, each featuring a hero ingredient that’s intrinsically South African.

Dry July drinks

Also read: We Compare: 5 Best Gins in South Africa at Every Price Point

Cape Citrus combines a citrus base with delicate notes of buchu, pepper and fennel and the warm spice of cassia bark. The heavenly fragrance of Cape rose geranium is at the heart of the Cape Fynbos variant. A classic Italian-style bitters, The Abstinence Apéritif exudes rich flavours of citrus and natural botanicals.

Meaning free in Zulu (in this case, free from alcohol and artificial ingredients), Mahala Botanical was the winner of the Low-No Alcohol Spirit Award at the prestigious Michelangelo International Spirit Awards in the same year it was launched. The brainchild of Danielle Schoeman, one of the Cape’s few female master distillers, it’s made with nine hand-sourced botanicals.

Mahala is a complex spirit layered with aromas of spices and subtle florals with honey bush adding a soft sweetness. It’s a true farm-to-glass process using plants from Danielle’s family farm and water sourced on the property.

Dry July drinks

Mixing with the best

To get the most from these sophisticated, alcohol-free spirits, you need to mix with the best. If you’re spending a little extra on premium alcohol-free spirits, then why not splash out on premium tonic water and drink mixers as well? Fever-Tree works on the premise that if the mixer is three-quarters of the drink, it should be the very best. The founders of Fever-Tree have developed an extensive range of top-quality mixers made with specially selected ingredients from around the world and are free from artificial flavourings and sweeteners.

Botanical extracts, spring water and top-quality quinine from the ‘fever trees’ in the Democratic Republic of Congo go into their award-winning tonic water and three diverse varieties of ginger create the fresh, genuine flavours of their ginger ale and ginger beer.

If you’re celebrating a better, healthier you, then why not do it with a cocktail? The unique flavours of these non-alcoholic distilled spirits and the diversity of mixers lend themselves to a variety of cocktails. What’s trending at the moment is a selection of hot and happening cocktails that you can definitely try at home.

Dry July drinks

Give these easy mocktail recipes a try!

Mahala Mule: 50ml Mahala Botanical topped with ginger beer and lime juice, garnished with lime.

Cape Fynbos & Tonic: 50ml Abstinence Cape Fynbos topped with fever Tree Indian tonic, garnished with a lemon peel and fresh berries.

Epilogue & Cola: 50ml Abstinence Epilogue X topped with cola, garnished with a lime slice.

Lemon Spritz: 50ml Abstinence Lemon Aperitif topped with soda water, garnished with a fresh lemon peel.

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