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Borrago for Dry January (or any sober day/week/month!)
Like many people, I feel that the New Year is a good time to break bad habits and instil some new better ones. I have to admit to being guilty of having a G&T when I get home from work, and then wine with dinner most evenings. I want to start only having alcohol if we are socialising at home, or are going out. So I’ve jumped on the ‘Dry January’ bandwagon. So far I’ve only strayed once, when out at a stunning new Indian restaurant in Chelsea, Kahani, with Fiona. I’m not saying that she’s a bad influence, but…
It can be hard though to find something non-alcoholic as a replacement, especially if like me you don’t particularly like sweet drinks. We were sent a bottle of Borrago to make some cocktails. It certainly seemed to tick all the boxes; no alcohol, no sugar, no fat and no calories, yet claiming to be a non-alcoholic spirit substitute for gin or vodka. I tasted a little of the Borrago neat, and it reminded me more of a Fernet Stock than either gin or vodka.
I started with a seasonal blood orange Borragotini made with the first blood oranges I’ve seen this year. I put ice, orange zest and the juice of one orange into a cocktail shaker, added 50ml of the Borrago, a little simple sugar syrup and gave it a good shake. After pouring I added just a dash of tonic water. This was like the first taste of spring. For a longer drink, you could use a champagne flute and add non-alcoholic sparkling wine to make a blood orange Borrago Buck’s Fizz.
I then thought that it’d be fun to try making a non-alcoholic espresso martini. This was simply 50ml of the Borrago, 50 ml of coffee cold brew concentrate, and 15 ml of sugar syrup, all shaken together over ice and garnished with 3 coffee beans. In retrospect, I think I’d only use 25-30ml of the Borrago as it’s quite a powerful taste.
I’d frozen an ice cube tray full of rhubarb puree in the summer, and used some of these in a non-alcoholic version of a Bellini. For this, I added 4 cubes of defrosted rhubarb puree to 50ml of the Borrago, mixed it, and then added soda water and stirred. Another time, I think that this would be better with a non-alcoholic sparkling wine and again, probably only 25- 30ml of Borrago.
For those interested in the background to this zero sugar, zero calories and zero alcohol drink, Borrago is a new botanical spirit created by Tom Tuke-Hastings who started off in food. He loves entertaining, but now that he has two small children and lives in the countryside, he decided it was important to have a drink that wouldn’t leave him with a hangover and would allow him and anyone visiting to drink something special and still be able to drive home. He set out to create a drink worth celebrating with. Borrago is named after borage, a beautiful herb with a bluey-purple edible flower which you may have seen in cocktails like this Pimms spritz. It has a cucumber taste and you can use the leaves to make soup or in salad too.
Here’s a printable version of our recipe for a non-alcoholic espresso martini.
An easy non-alcoholic espresso martini made with Borrago
- 25-50 ml Borrago
- 50 ml Cold coffee concentrate or chilled espresso
- 15 ml Simple Syrup made with 1 part sugar to 1 part water heated to just below boiling until the sugar dissolves
- 3 Coffee Beans
- Fill a cocktail shaker with ice
- Place all the ingredients except the coffee beans into the shaker
- Shake well for at least 30 seconds
- Strain and serve in a martini glass
- Garnish with 3 coffee beans
Borrago retails for £19.99 for a 500ml bottle, so really not too pricy! Do let me know in the comments what you’d make with a bottle of Borrago.