Dry January Alcohol-Free Cocktails that you will drink all year.
Every January our festive season indulgences inspire a month of abstinence. Or at least the intention of one. I normally last for a day or two before I revert to the odd glass of wine- and it’s so easy to indulge in a cocktail or two when the weather is miserable. That said, luckily, over the last few years the number of alcohol-free options has escalated and this year, on the cusp of 2020/2021, there’s been something of an explosion of No-Lo spirits on the market. And, finally, it’s possible to enjoy a diverse range of artisan spirits that are every bit as good as those full of alcohol. We’ve already reviewed ClearGin (zero alcohol) and Trinity 25, a low alcohol gin substitute. For January, I have three new gin substitutes to experiment with so I’ve started with a side by side taste test, before picking the one I thought would make the best Gimlet mocktail. More mocktails and low alcohol drinks will follow in due course using the others!
A few years ago if anyone had suggested that an alcohol-free gimlet might be possible I’d have laughed at the idea. Now though, there’s a real opportunity to make a half-decent gimlet mocktail. These gin substitutes – either no alcohol or low alcohol – all make a perfectly respectable replacement for a gin and tonic. Which works for you will be as much a matter of personal taste. For the side-to-side taste test, I used Pentire Adrift from Port Isaac (Doc Martin Land) in Cornwall. NLL from Salcombe Distillery in Devon and Cotswold Dry Gin Essence.
It’s worth noting right at the start that two of these distilled drinks are zero alcohol while one is a low alcohol product. The Cotswold Dry Gin Essence is a unique product made from a 10x concentrate of one of their gins. It is 46% proof, so diluted as instructed you only need 5ml for a ‘gin’ and tonic with 200ml of tonic water. That means the overall alcohol content is a tenth of the equivalent drink made with their normal gin. Made into a gin and tonic with the ratio as instructed, it was light, refreshing and pretty close to the real thing. With just 14 calories and .23 units of alcohol per serving, paired with a low-calorie tonic it’s a dream if you are also trying to lose those lockdown pounds! And, the bottle with its unique pipette is perfect for travelling – just 100ml, so theoretically something you could pop in your cabin bag (if we can ever fly anywhere again).
Whether all in my mind, inspired by the pretty bottle design, Pentire seemed to have saline, herbaceous and citrus notes which reflect the locally grown and foraged botanicals – rock samphire, Cornish sea salt, sage and ‘Pentire plant blend’ – unique plants native to the Cornish coastline. I loved the fresh taste and will be revisiting soon with a cocktail that I think reflects this particular spirit. It’s a zero alcohol option and uniquely refreshing. I’m looking forward to trying this in the Summer too (preferably in Cornwall – where all the top restaurants seem to already be in on the act!).
NLL from Salcombe Distilling Company was one of the first of the new zero alcohol ‘gins’ I tried and I’ve been planning to use it for a mocktail for a month or so now. It is distilled with three botanicals – Macedonian juniper berries, ginger and habanero capsicum – into which fifteen additional botanicals are blended, delivering a complex spectrum of flavour with hints of citrus orange and sage. Made into a classic ‘gin and tonic’ with a lemon garnish I thought it had a slightly oily taste when compared with the other contenders in the side by side test – though not in any way unpleasant. In fact, I’ve already polished off the full bottle.
I wanted to try a cocktail that I thought would enhance the citrus notes and a gimlet mocktail seemed perfect. It’s a very simple cocktail to make but one which always seems quite grown up. In addition to a classic gimlet, there are all sorts of variations which we love. I’m particularly fond of an elderflower gimlet and you could easily vary the classic gimlet mocktail by using St Germain as in my original recipe or even non-alcoholic elderflower liqueur.
Here’s the classic gimlet mocktail recipe I created based on NLL zero alcohol gin.
A classic gimlet adapted for non alcoholic spirits - non alcoholic gimlet mocktail
- 2 Limes This should yield 20ml
- 60 ml NLL
- 20 ml 1:1 Simple syrup made with one part water to one part sugar
Fill the cocktail shaker with ice
Cut the limes in half and remove a single slice to use as a garnish later
Juice the limes
Add the lime juice, simple syrup and NLL to the cocktail shaker
Strain into a coupe or martini glass and serve garnished with a slice of lime
The only substantial calories and carbs in this drink are from the simple syrup. If you want to make a low-calorie low-carb gimlet, then it's possible to make a simple syrup with a low-carb sweetener.
Consider using any granulated low-carb sweetener that measures like sugar and which doesn't turn bitter when heated. Examples include Splenda or erythritol-based sweeteners.
You can also make a gimlet using Roses' Lime Cordial which is already sweetened and so doesn't require simple syrup. Just use one part lime cordial to two parts NLL. It's the original way that a Gimlet was made, so there's no 'cheating'
‘New London Light’ is available in select premium restaurants, bars and retailers including from the Salcombe Gin Shop, The Victuallers, Amazon, John Lewis & Master of Malt for RRP
£27.50 per 70cl.
Pentire is available from various retails and in select restaurants or from their own online shop.
Cotswold Gin essence is available from Amazon, various retailers or from their own online shop
We’ve already reviewed CleanGin and tried their recommended recipes.
And, we love the low alcohol Trinity25 gin substitute, which we enjoyed in a low alcohol bramble cocktail