It’s been a summer of lockdown lifting and finally seeing loved ones, we’ve travelled again and sipped aperols in the sun, drunk rose on sunny terraces and had beers at BBQs. We are now firmly into ‘Sober October’ and it’s a great excuse to try some of the non-alcoholic drinks.
Let’s start with my favourite summer drink, Aperol; this has seen a surge in popularity in the past year or so. This always reminds me of summers in Italy with my family. Founded in 1919 by Barbieri brothers, Luigi and Silvio, after the Campari Group acquired Aperol in 2003, the brand launched a marketing campaign that brought Aperol Spritzes out of northern Italy and to the rest of the world. Thanks to this effort, Aperol is now stocked behind bars from Padua to Portland. As you can imagine discovering APRTF was an absolute dream after realising people craved the same flavours it was created so people could still enjoy their favourite cocktail with no or low alcohol. It’s 0% alcohol and naturally low in calories.“It’s for those who want to tear up the dancefloor sober and for those who simply want to wake up with a clear head the following morning”. The website has the loveliest selection of cocktail recipes, and my favourite? Had to be the Breakfast Martini, made of APRTF, marmalade, lemon juice, simple syrup and gin, garnished with orange.
On the subject of gin, don’t think that this is to be omitted from the above. Clean Co. initially launched with Clean G in 2019 and their range has rapidly expanded to include Clean R, flavoured Clean G Editions, and even canned ready to drink cocktails. “The development of CleanCo has been a long and personal journey. Clean G – our first product, represents everything we stand for, a complex and beautifully produced liquid in a stunning bottle that will stand the test of time as a classic drink”. Why Clean? Spencer their founder thought describing what they offer as “Clean” was a more positive approach than the often negative connotation surrounding No and Low alcohol. It makes for an easier bar call and more sense for people who drink less, or not at all as part of a cleaner lifestyle. Aromatic botanical ingredients, including real juniper, are sourced and blended to their secret recipe and distilled. The resulting distillate is mixed with other ingredients to create the finished non-alcoholic spirit, it tastes great and mixes well, if I’m honest this is the best mixer in this respect I’ve tasted.
Next drink, Pentire drinks… “Catching waves until dusk. Camping on cliff tops and foraging hedgerows for unexpected bounty. Sharing and experimenting with the flavours we found on the coast. We wanted to bottle that experience. And create a drink that harnesses the power, beauty and immense flavours of plants”.
Let’s be honest, it’s a long way rhetorically and geographically from Chelsea, with a different aesthetic and taste, there maybe a different target market here from a PR perspective, but if anything could ever taste like what it was described as, it’s Pentire drinks. My childhood was spending summers by the sea in my parents boat, hence my love of the sea and tasting both of these drinks felt like sitting in the sun on the Fowey River with the sun dancing on the water in front of you, one could imagine these pair with fish very well. I was kindly gifted two, “Adrift” Coastal, herbaceous and fresh and “Seaward” Bright, zesty and verdant. Both, were totally unique to previous non-alcoholic drinks I’d tried previously, probably I’d say they are strong enough to sit on their own with tonic rather than be part of a cocktail with other aromas and tastes. If I’m honest, Seaward was my favourite of the two, but this may be down to the fact in my mind it tastes sweeter.
Lastly, which I think runs perfectly in order with the feel and ethos of the last drinks I sampled; is Drink Mary. Mary is a responsibly sourced botanical blend, with a dash of alcohol, it was specifically designed to have a lighter touch on your body, mind and the world. Once again like Pentire, I think Mary’s ingredients meant this was a centre stage kind of spirit rather than part of a cocktail, the ingredients mean that you taste the herbs immediately. “We take the best of basil, thyme, sage and other garden herbs and blend them with a light touch of alcohol to make Mary’s deliciously fresh, dry taste”.
So, to conclude, I only scratched the surface of a growing market place, with an ever-increasing focus on health and wellbeing, this will only get bigger. As you can see by above, there is definitely a drink for everyone’s taste and style this sober October.