The Next Round: What happens after you change your drinking?

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Christmas occasion

Alcohol-free drinks for every Christmas occasion

The festive season is in full swing, so we thought we’d give you some drink ideas to suit every Christmas occasion. A huge part of dealing with Christmas sober, particularly if it is your first one, is planning. My PT always says ‘Proper Preparation Prevents P*ss Poor Performance’, in other words, we can’t expect our desired outcome without making some well-considered preparations. Knowing what you’re going to drink when you’re not drinking can play a huge role in your success in changing your drinking. In this blog, we’re going to give some suggestions for excellent drinks to see you through all those Christmas occasions ahead of you, but you may also like to check out our WOOP blog. ‘What on earth is WOOP?’, I hear you cry. WOOP is a planning technique we recommend, it stands for Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, and Plan. It might be worth setting aside a little time for yourself to go through this, maybe grab a journal, and get some things on paper.

If you’re finding Christmas challenging, try to visualise what it will feel like if you get into bed at the end of Christmas day with your sobriety intact. Imagine the sense of pride, relief, and self-belief you might experience. Visualise what success will look and feel like for you.

Now, on with our drinks suggestions, which should satisfy any drinker at any Christmas occasion. We’ve been pretty extensive with our drinks recommendations for you this year, and don’t forget, our alcohol-free off-license will be open on Great Portland Street in London from December 13th (2021) until January 30th. You’ll find all of these wonderful brands on the shelves there, so do pop by for all your alcohol-free needs, and to say ‘hello’ to our lovely team.

A social Christmas occasion

Let’s imagine you have a work Christmas do, or maybe a gathering with some friends. You might meet in a pub or restaurant, or perhaps in a work environment, or somebodies home. Beer is always an easy option in any of these settings, with most venues stocking at least one alcohol-free beer. Let start with the macro beers, which are usually easy to find in venues and supermarkets. You have the likes of Heineken 0.0, which does a good job of imitating its full-strength counterpart. Budweiser Zero Alcohol and Stella Artois Alcohol-Free are also gaining popularity. Birra Moretti Zero is on a number of supermarket lists, including Tesco, Morrisons, and Sainsbury’s.

If you’re in a BrewDog bar, you should find at least one of their alcohol-free beers on draught, perfect if you enjoy a pint from the tap. Nanny State, Punk AF, or Lost AF are also easy to find in larger supermarkets. If pale ale is your thing, Adnams Ghost Ship is also available on draught in a number of venues, particularly in the Suffolk area where the brewery was founded. Lucky Saint is a premium unfiltered alcohol-free lager. You can find this in Sainsbury’s, but it’s fast becoming the alcohol-free lager of choice in many venues and is a firm favourite with beer lovers. It recently won the Classic category in AF Beer Club’s annual AF Beer Awards. Beavertown Lazer Crush won best IPA/pale ale, and Sheep In Wolf’s Clothing Lager Day Saints was a close runner-up in the Lager category. And if you need to cater to guests who can’t have gluten, Jump Ship Yardarm is a flavourful lager that ticks the box.

Cider is also becoming more readily available, particularly in supermarkets, and you’ll find Old Mout in the likes of Asda and Sainsbury’s. And this year, we really loved Wise Bartender’s collaborative cider made with Crafty Nectar.

If you love botanical drinks like gin and tonic, Seedlip has created three different spirits, each with their own unique profile. These are a very popular choice both in venues and in shops. If a grown-up soft drink appeals more to you, Allotment Drinks make delicious sodas using seasonal botanicals. They focus on environmental impact, using local, natural ingredients.

Christmas morning tipple

Many people crack open the Bucks Fizz on Christmas morning but we think a Savyll Bellini is an even better option, this brand produces a truly excellent range of cocktails. You could go down a traditional route and crack open a bottle of fizz. Thomson & Scott Noughty is a delicately sparkling chardonnay, perfect for toasting by the tree, I’ll be enjoying some with my salmon and egg breakfast. Good Koffee takes inspiration from across the globe, most notably Iran and Nepal. Try their mixers to create your own coffee tonics or cocktails, or try their ready-to-drink Coffee Tonics. We love the range of tonics from Double Dutch, they have some surprising flavour combinations, and would be a great addition to your shopping basket if you enjoy mixing alcohol-free spirits. Genie Drinks make some fantastic zingy kombuchas, and the apple, in particular, would make for a pleasant start to your festivities. Another drink that will put a spring in your step on Christmas morning is Jin Jin, a natural enzyme drink packed with good bacteria and nutrients.

Lyre’s make the most extensive range of alcohol-free spirits we have ever seen, and have something to suit every mood and Christmas occasion. A number of their spirits would make a great addition to your morning coffee, try their American Malt, Amaretto, or Coffee Liqueur. Do check out their full range and get creative, they have lots of cocktail recipes on their website to inspire you.

Compliment your Christmas dinner (lovely stuffing, darling!)

Christmas Dinner in my home is the peak Christmas occasion, all roads lead to roasties. I know that for many people, wine is the go-to choice with Christmas dinner, but allow me to recommend some beers first. Binary Botanical it’s great for both beer and wine lovers, using hop leaves to completent its prosecco-like profile, and lends itself well to enjoying with food. Leffe or Hoegaarden 0.0 are both aromatic Belgian beers, which could really complement a fragrant herby roast. For the red wine drinkers, Nine Elms make a fanastic alternative using fruits and botanicals to create something complex and robust. REAL Kombucha is often found in Michelin-starred restaurants, and it’s no wonder. They extract some real depth from their teas, balancing acidity with floral and earthy notes. For those who simply must have a glass of fizz, Wildlife Botanicals really brings a sense of occasion to any dinner table. It’s also packed full of vitamins and minerals, making it a great choice for those who seek to optimise their wellbeing. And last but not least, Oddbird Wines are ‘liberated from alcohol’, and were created by a family therapist and social worker who, growing tired of seeing the impact alcohol was having, decided to challenge the norm and create her own exceptional range of wines.

Christmas afternoon

I don’t know about you, but in my household, Christmas dinner doesn’t happen until mid afternoon, which means a late breakfast and then a few tasty beverages while we cook. The whole family mucks in and everyone is usually supping something different. Athletic Brewing brew a lovely golden ale, which is light-drinking, perfect before a heavy roast. Square Root Soda are the darlings of the soda world and create well-balanced, seasonal sodas, as well as some lovely alcohol-free cocktails. The Passionfruit Mojito is a particular favourite of mine. If you think you can handle the heat, it doesn’t get much hotter than Karma Drinks Gingerella, especially their new Too Damn Hot version. LA Brewery Produces a lovely range of kombuchas, each with a unique fruity character.

I sometimes like to enjoy a glass of wine while cooking, and VINADA’s sparkling wines are a lovely option for some slow sipping. UNLTD IPA is packed full of citrus character and tropical notes, very quaffable. For more easy drinking beers, check our Ilkley Brewery’s Virgin Mary (they recently released their first dark alcohol-free, too, Nowt Mary will be hitting shelves soon). Perhaps a herbaceous gin whets your appetite, if so, Salcombe should do just the trick. For the fruity cider fans, how about a little Rosé cider from Celtic Marches? Drynks also have a range of easy-drinking but boldly flavoured drinks, including a cider alternative, a lager, and a citrussy beer.

After-dinner sipping

Onto some of my personal favourites. I’m a real sucker for an aperitivo or a digestif, I love a short, viscous drink that’s packed full of big bittersweet flavours. Crodino is an Italian classic, infused with spices, woods, herbs, and roots. The Everleaf range has been carefully curated by Paul, who began his career as a Conservation Biologist. His passion for the natural world has translated into three different non-alcoholic aperitivos, each completely unique and grown-up. Caleño Dark & Spicy is packed with dark pineapple tropical notes, ginger, kola nut spices, black cardamom, vanilla, and lime. Simply serve over ice with your favourite tonic water. Another spiced spirit is MARIE LAVEAU, a great alternative to spiced rum. With a smooth blend of sweet vanilla and a warm spicy finish, this works well in a Cuba Libre.

Gnista is the Swedish for “spark” and their alcohol-free spirits will certainly add some sophistication to after-dinner cocktails, holding their own against full-strength spirits. Try their Floral Wormwood over ice as an aperitivo, or their Barreled Oak as an alternative to rum or bourbon in cocktails – or serve it neat.

Perhaps a post-dinner beer is more your thing? If so, Pistonhead Flat Tyre Lager might be a nice, light option after a big dinner. Three Spirit drinks are designed to aid in natural relaxation, using plants that have been used to stilumate mind, palate, and body for centuries. Perfect for unwinding after any Christmas occasion. ANON is a great option for anyone who loves a Negroni, you could even try mixing their Bittersweet Aperitif with Alt Wine’s organic sparkling wine for a delicious Spritz. Sprigster is a shrub that is made with ingredients from the garden. This magical ‘mash’ was developed as a deliciously dry alternative to a G&T. For something more towards a traditional G&T, try any of the Ceder’s spirits, which range from floral to spicy.

Fireside warmers and Boxing Day strolls

Slangevar can be enjoyed in a number of ways, and is delightful when served hot. It has a mellow but forward lime acidity, a growing ginger heat, and a subtle sweetness from local Scottish honey. GIMBER is another versatile product and is packed with organic Peruvian ginger, lemons, herbs, and spices. Dial up the heat and drink it warm. And of course, a dark beer lends itself perfectly to cosy fireside drinking. Both Big Drop and Drop Bear Beer have some excellent options in this category, from bold, smokey bonfire stout, to sweet, creamy milkstout. Drop Bear Beers are all vegan and gluten-free as well, making them a great brand for those with dietary needs. Finally, a tumber of Celtic Soul is the perfect dram for those who enjoy peaty spirits. This boasts flavours of sweet vanilla, spices and oak cask wood, reminiscent of aged spirits.

Secret Santa

If you’re buying secret santa for someone who enjoys alcohol-free drinks, why not gift something they may not have come across before? Christmas came early for me this year when Bemuse released their alcohol-free mead, drawing complex flavour profiles from honey, herbs, and hops. Good Karma founder Steve has been on the drinks scene for years, and continues to release beers that are bursting with flavour. His mindful messaging and vibrant branding always puts a smile on my face. FUNGTN introduced us to the exciting world of adaptogens this year, in other words, mushrooms. No, they are not magic, and no, your beer won’t taste of shrooms, but they are known to aid in optimising the wellbeing of both mind and body. Penrhos boasts a stunning range of spirits, from gin to honey spiced rum. Fluere also has a range of spirits, from botanical to spiced and smokey. For those who enjoy the fruit-forward raddlers, Clausthaler Grapefruit is both juicy and refreshing. Maison Sassy offers a crisp sparkling cidre from their organic apple orchard, and should the person you are buying for be someone who moderates their consumption, there is also the Poiré, which weighs in at only 2.5%.

A glamourous Christmas occasion

If you’re going all out glitz and glam this year, you’ll need some cocktails to go with those sequins. Mocktails have taken all the work out of partying and created some stunning bottled cocktails, Karma Sucra Mockapolitan, anyone? Highball are another brand that take the muddling out of mojito, simple pour over ice and garnish to impress your guests. Sea Arch create both a delicious coastal botanical spirit, as well as two ready-to-drink cans. One blends it with a raspberry and rose tonic, and the other uses light Indian tonic water. Copenhagen Sparkling Tea combines precision-brewed tea with grape must, making for a truly premium fizz alternative. For something a little easier to get hold of, Belle & Co is available in a number of British supermarkets, we love the beautful shade of the Sparkling Rosé. Single serve cans of fizz are also a great option, particularly in the current pandemic climate (sorry, we nearly got through the whole blog without mentioning it!). ISH provides delicious sparkling wines, G&T, and a Spritz in sleek packaging. If presenting people with showstopping garnished drinks is your party trick, try using Mahala. This botanical spirit is made with clove, honey bush, orange, angelica root, buchu, cardamom, cassia bark, and peppercorn. Mix it with tonic and garnish with orange peel, rosemary, and even some fig if you’re going all out. If CBD products interest you, check out Maria & Craig’s CBD Botanical Spirit. This combines premium broad-spectrum CBD from the US with natural hemp, distilled juniper, sage, camomile and orange blossom, along with other classic gin botanicals. And lastly, no Christmas occasion would be complete without a good option for the beer drinkers, and Impossibrew provides just that. This functional lager is infused with a euphoric formula of botanicals, nootropics, and adaptogens for a truly relaxing drinking experience.

We hope you’ll try some of our Christmas drink recommendations, and that every Christmas occasion in your calendar is a joyful one spent with friends and family.

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