Softly does it

Alt-alc; it’s A Thing. While I can never see the point of, say, tofu pressed to resemble a burger (as there are perfectly good meat alternatives in abundance) I have some sympathy with teetotallers, forced to endure sticky, sweet and faintly patronising drinks while their alcohol lovin’ friends sink a cool Dirty Martini. Who wants to ask for a Shirley Temple, when a Bloody Mary just sounds so much more dangerous?

So, it’s January and you’re going to go dry, right? Have some style: don’t lecture, don’t avoid the bar and certainly don’t beat yourself up; just choose wisely. A cursory glance through the net throws up surprisingly few hits for alt-cocktails (as we at SH call them). There’s wellness and lifestyle advice aplenty but not a lot of hard core messaging from bars themselves. And relatively little guidance, support or connections. Marnie Clark of #sobernotboring leads the way… Seattle. The nearest this West Country woman got to local was @DryChick at @DryScene in London. In fact, London leads the way in the UK but these totally alcohol free bars all look a bit……intense. I don’t have to go full on vegan or virtuous to give my liver a break; I want to hang out with my boozy mates too.

My point is that when a new cocktail list was in the offing, we sat around and tested our best sellers: the usual suspects. Then we recreated them as Alt-cocktails. Welcome: the Millennial Martini, the Naked Negroni and Easy, Tiger (an alt-alc Pina Colada with a passionate twist). Predictably, given the gin craze of 2018, our alt-G&Ts with Ceders alt-gin have also been slipping down a treat. Co-founder and developer Craig happens to be a nephew of a close friend and so SH caught a whiff of the unmistakably floral and very dry alcohol free gin before it hit these shores.

So much for the middle aged imbibers, like moi, who know they want to give it a break but don’t want to compromise their social life or radically change their otherwise healthy habits. Will alt-cocktails lure iGen back into bars and the art of actual contact time? If and when it’s as easy – and as much fun – to order an alt-cocktail as a ‘20s classic, will the kids get out more? Could alt-cocktails be the thin end of the wedge in a social revolution? Could meeting for a drink ever replace text and tinder? People: it is your duty to embrace an inclusive culture of alt-cocktails, maybe for longer than just dry January.