Review: What do premium alcohol-free drinks taste like?!
As someone who is pretty much alcohol-free these days, I can still see why people enjoy a drink from nice glassware, relish a glass or two of grape when going out for dinner, or love an ice-cold bottle of hops over a barbecue. But what happens in these situations if we don’t want alcohol?
We all know how it plays out when you go somewhere for dinner and say that you don’t drink alcohol. You’ve probably found yourself being offered the same old boring selection of sugar-laden fizzy sodas, sweetened “fruit juice” (made from concentrates) or just plain old water. This kind of thing is in the dark ages, along with not providing vegetarian/vegan options, and eating only white bread and brown foods!
For me, it’s always a bit of a let-down when a host has gone to a lot of effort with food, but shows they don’t really care about the experience of non-drinkers. However, the Europeans addressed this problem a long time ago and developed sophisticated alternatives to alcohol-based drinks that can be enjoyed in wine glasses, champagne flutes and as cocktails, without the alcohol, but with all the pleasure of social drinking as a sophisticated adult. While we’ve spent years being offered orange juice or cola, the Europeans have long been enjoying a glass of Merlot, Torres, Chardonnay, beer, spirits and sparkling wine – all with zero alcohol! And now at last we have these exciting drinks options here, it’s time to test them!
How do these alcohol-free drinks actually taste?
I was curious to try a couple of drinks from the Drink Dry range – a premium brand of zero-alcohol wines, beers, spirits, cocktails – and even a thoughtful after-dinner Irish cream liqueur. I was keen to find out how the experience of drinking them compared to their alcohol-based counterparts. Here are my thoughts…
Sea Arch Rose ‘Sea & T’ Non-Alcoholic Gin & Tonic
The distinctive flavour of gin comes mainly from juniper berries, blended with herbs and aromats. The Sea Arch cocktail contains the very same ingredients to produce the same flavour, but then goes through a ‘de-alcoholisation’ process to remove any trace of alcohol. This leaves all the flavour and sophistication of gin, minus the insane number of calories contained in the alcohol version.
I tried the ‘Sea & T’ Non Alcoholic Gin & Tonic in a tall glass, with ice and a slice of lemon on a warm evening in the garden. It was blissful to drink! Non-sugary, dry, refreshing and with a flavour to match what a gin drinker would expect. Interestingly, the psychological and emotional feeling was the same as drinking an alco-version. I sipped my way through the drink in the same way and thoroughly enjoyed the clean and refreshing taste as a relaxing wind-down after a long day. This is a drink I’d offer to anyone popping over at the weekend; to my health-conscious gym buddies; as a pre-dinner drink (for anyone who is driving home afterwards!) – to friends, or simply at home over a late movie after the kids have gone to bed.
Blind taste test on the alcohol-free Bière Des Amis 0.0% Blond Beer
You probably know someone who knows someone who knows a thing or two about beer. In my case, I know nothing – so I enlisted the help of Sebastian – a rugby-fanatic of a South African, whose family co-own a brewery in his country – so this is someone who really does know his beer.
I asked Seb to do a blind taste test between one of Drink Dry’s best selling beers – the Biere des Amis (a premium Belgian Blond beer) and a can of beer I borrowed from a neighbour. I didn’t do the obvious thing and ask him to guess which beer was alcohol-free. I simply poured a glass of each one, placed them side by side and asked for his opinion on the tastes.
He tried the alcohol brand first and declared that it was (and I quote) “the usual watered down rubbish that you get everywhere.” Then he tried the zero-alcohol Bière Des Amis 0.0% Blond Beer and said: “Now that’s a proper craft beer. Probably Belgian. They drink this one with food in Belgium. Hands down, this is what I’d have with a braai. This and boerewors – you can’t beat that – it’s a proper craft beer.”
I wish you could have seen his face when I told him that the “proper craft beer” contained no alcohol! At first he didn’t believe it and was still clearly astonished when I showed him the bottle. After a moment of silence, he asked me: “Where do you get it?’
My reply? “You can get it from the Drink Dry Store online and they’ll deliver it to your door.”
My verdict? Well, I’ve had a re-think. Why settle for a ‘soft drink’?! And what does “soft drink” mean anyway – something fizzy that is full of sugar? Bearing in mind that alcohol is basically just a poison that comes in different flavours, I don’t understand how we have gone for so long with our ‘standard’ choices for having a social drink being either alcohol or carbonated sugary drinks. In terms of our standards, Drink Dry has elevated them to something much more sophisticated, and that fits in so much better with our busy lifestyles and health goals. So, I’m not sure I can see a good reason to revert to alcohol-based drinks when there is a social alternative that provides all the taste and social enjoyment, but minus the calories…and headache!
You can check out the Drink Dry website to see the alcohol-free adult drinks options.
Alternatively, you can enter our competition to win an E-voucher worth AED 500 to spend at the Drink Dry online store. Enter before 30th July!
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