Caliente, an organic Swedish juice drink

Caliente Organic Swedish Juice Drink

Caliente, an organic Swedish juice drink review.

Price: €37 (12 x 250ml)
Available from: Manufacturer’s own
Recommended Serve: Long over ice

Caliente is an organic Swedish juice drink developed as a grown up alternative to traditional sprit and mixer. What separates Caliente from being just another soft drink that children might enjoy is the unusual chili kick, lack of carbonation and the low sugar content.

I’m not a fan of spicy flavours, so I was a little nervous in trying my first bottle of blueberry and lemongrass (3 out 5 on their chili scale). I was pleasantly surprised that the “chili kick” is more of a gentle warmness than a blow your socks off firework, and in that respect it’s not dissimilar to an alcoholic spirit.

Available in three flavours (blueberry lemongrass, plum rosemary, ginger lime) they are best served long over ice with a slice of lime or a garnish of your choice. What characterises a Caliente is how dry the flavour is, which is surprising given how refreshing and thirst quenching it is – without the need for artificial sweeteners.

Caliente is currently available at high end restaurants only which means that it’s difficult to try a bottle and you’ll have to plump for a full case. That said, I can easily imagine that you’ll get through a full case during a summer afternoon barbecue, and your non drinking guests and designated drivers will definitely thank you for it.

Handcrafted Spritz Syrup by 3/4 Oz review

Handcrafted Spritz Syrup

Handcrafted Spritz Syrup by 3/4 Oz review

Price: £7.99 for 240ml (10-12 drinks)

Available from: Waitrose

As I’ve said in one of my previous reviews, one of my favourite summer drinks was an Aperol Spritz. Earlier in the year during a holiday to the South of France I had noticed a ‘Spritz’ flavoured Monin syrup in one of the supermarkets, noticeable by its distinctive, bright orange colouring. As there was no non alcoholic sparkling wine to be found I didn’t buy any at the time, thinking that I could just order the syrup when I returned home. Unfortunately, the Spritz Syrup is only available on the continent so it was not to be. Merde!

It was only during a wishful internet search for the Monin syrup today – I’ve been searching every few weeks in the hope that someone in the UK would have started stocking it – that I stumbled across Handcrafted Spritz Syrup. Crafted in small batches by a young company based in Montreal, the spritz syrup, along with 4 other flavours that I can’t wait to try either, are designed for cocktails. Thankfully though the clever bods at Waitrose found it and are stocking online and instore, which meant I could pick some up on the way home!

It is packaged in an amber glass bottle (evidently to preserve the product for longer), which reminded me of medicine bottles, and the simple but eye-catching branding is reminiscent of an old apothecary label…very intriguing.

Luckily I already had a bottle of Nosecco chilling in the fridge (an AF sparkling wine I found in Sainsbury’s – review to follow soon!) so I mixed up an AF spritz as soon as I got home. The recommended serve is very similar to a classic spritz; one part spritz syrup, 4 parts AF sparkling wine and 1 part sparkling water over ice and with a slice of orange. Alternatively, you can just mix the syrup with some sparkling water, but I plumped for the classic combo and it did not disappoint.

I’m fairly sure you couldn’t get any closer to be honest. It’s got that lovely bittersweet, zesty flavour mixed with a slightly herby undertone and a woody, orange finish, almost identical to an Aperol. The colour is what gives it away; it looks a lot more natural than it’s fluorescent alcoholic friend, but I don’t mind this. If anything it feels more sophisticated, and slightly less flashy.

My one disappointment is that it comes in such a small bottle. Rest assured I’ll be heading straight back to my local Waitrose tomorrow to buy up all their stock (Sorry to any readers in Bromley!). With a long, hot summer still ahead of us, I’m going to need it…Saluti!

If you enjoyed this Handcrafted Spritz Syrup review, please let us have your feedback in the comments below, and if you want to carry on exploring you can read our full list of alcohol free drink reviews.

Natureo Torres Muscat Review

Natureo Torres Muscat

Natureo Torres Muscat Review

Price: £5.99

Available from: Waitrose, Dry Drinker, Ocado

Torres has been at the forefront of non alcoholic wine since 2008, the Natureo is the result of that long term research and planning.  It’s made from the muscat grape, which is then fermented normally before having the alcohol removed via distillation. It’s made in Spain, and Torres has an enviable reputation.  They have twice won the coveted “Most Admired Wine Brand” by Drinks International in both 2014 and 2015. Reasonable to to say then, that this wine has a lot to live up to!

Alcohol free or non alcoholic white wine are always going to be a little sweeter than the rest of the sector, and the Torres Natureo is no different. That said, it’s very far ahead of its competitions. It’s a wine I enjoyed by itself, but it would go equally with food and you’d pair it in much the same way you would as a traditional white.

With a light fruit initial taste with a slightly acidic finish which does a good job at replicating ‘normal’ wine. It deserves a place on your wine rack as an every day wine that would also work in cooking. That said, it might not make the step up to a wine you’d serve to guests. For this, I’d recommend something like the Eins Zwei Zero. However it’s presented well, and at a good price point, so you wouldn’t feel any sort of a hardship in keeping it to yourself!

Do you have any comments on this article about the Natureo Torres Muscat? Please leave them in the comments box below, we would love to hear from you! If you’ve enjoyed this review why not take a look at the other reviews we’ve written for non alcoholic drinks.

Monte Rosso The classic aperitivo review

Monte Rosso classic aperitivo review

Monte Rosso classic aperitivo review

Price: £2.55 (275ml)

Available from: Waitrose, Ocado, Manufacturer’s own

Recommended Serve:  In a wine glass with plenty of ice & a slice of orange

One of my favourite summer holiday drinks used to be an Aperol Spritz, and while I’ve managed to find non alcoholic substitutes for most other things, I presumed that this would be the one thing I couldn’t replicate.

Enter Monte Rosso; a non-alcoholic, pre mixed aperitivo that I gleefully stumbled across at the Mindful Drinking Festival recently, alongside T&E and London Essence tonics (more to follow on these later!)

The great news is that these drinks, including Monte Rosso, seem to be quite widely available. Only a few days after the festival I found them in my local Waitrose, available online through Ocado and in one of the bigger Tesco stores close to me. Hurrah!

So, onto the actual drink…The Monte Rosso is a little sweeter and fruitier than an Aperol Spritz, but it still has the refreshing fizz which makes it a nice, long, summer drink to savour. There are some lovely citrus notes coming through alongside summer fruits, and a slightly bitter finish, which is one of the things I love about a Spritz.

Recommended serve is with a slice of orange and plenty of ice or alternatively you can try mixing in a shot of grapefruit syrup and adding a slice each of grapefruit and lime over ice to give a slightly sharper finish. Either way, this has become a firm favourite of mine so pour yourself a glass, sit back, relax and let yourself be transported to an Italian terrazze! Pure bliss…

If you’ve enjoyed this review then we’d love it if you would please leave us a few comments below, or check out our full list of non alcoholic drink reviews.

What happens when you give up alcohol?

What happens when you give up alcohol?

What happens when you give up alcohol? This article explains the effects of giving up alcohol on your body from the first hour, right the way through to several months in.

What happens when you give up alcohol?

One hour in:

One hour after your last drink your body will go into detox mode and start removing the alcohol from your blood stream so as to prevent alcohol poisoning.

Around 24 hours:

Obviously this largely depends on how much you put into your system, but it’ll be around this time that the full detoxification process begins to happen and your blood sugar levels should be in the normal range.

This is because the body can only process around 1 unit of sauce per hour, and as the body can’t metabolise and break down food while you’re drinking it’s been forced to store anything you eat as fat, and will now start to process what it can.

72 hours:

Assuming you’ve not drunk since, your body will need around 72 hours time to expel any remaining alcohol from your system. Have you ever been out on a Friday night and had a hangover all weekend? This is why.

7 days:

If you’ve made it this far then it’s time to reap the rewards from your abstinence. A veritable smorgasbord of treats await you – including, but not limited to….

  • Better sleep: Your body is now back into the rhythm of actually falling asleep, as opposed to either passing out from alcohol, or at least being led into the land of nod by it.
  • Your skin will physically appear brighter, less red, and if you have any skin conditions such as eczema they will be dramatically improved.
  • Concentration, mood and mental clarity will be on a par with that of a non drinker (probably a bit higher after the mental high-five of getting this far)

Two weeks:

You’ve had the mental benefits, now it’s time for the physical benefits. Your body has already been making great leaps forward in the time off you’ve had so far, and is now ready to show its hand. Amongst a lot of other things…

  • Skin, hair and nails visibly more healthy and sturdy, even to a casual observer
  • Liver fat will have decreased by a massive 15% (if it can do 15% in two weeks, think what it can do after a few months!)
  • It’s entirely possible that by this stage men will have dropped a trouser size, and women a dress size

One year:

Your risk of chronic conditions such as breast, liver and mouth cancer as well as liver disease takes a massive nose dive. That’s an impressive benefit as it is, but to add icing to the cake, your body will also have disposed of the equivalent of 46,200 calories on your behalf, taking a massive six kilograms of fat off your waistline, ironically meaning you can have another slice of cake more or less whenever you want.

I’d love to hear some comments on what you thought of this article ‘what happens when you give up alcohol’ please do use the form below to add your thoughts to this article! In the mean time, if you’ve decided to give up alcohol you can read how to give up alcohol or have a browse through some of our reviews of no alcohol drinks.

Seedlip Garden 108

Seedlip Garden 108 review

Seedlip Garden 108 review

Price: £27.99 (700ml)

Stockists: Manufacturer’s own, Tesco, Amazon, other high end retailers

Recommended serve:  With Indian tonic water and a handful of peas

Alcohol: 0%

One of the biggest questions I had when I first gave up drinking was ‘what the hell do I drink other than fruit juice and lemonade?’. So with the tag line ‘What to drink when you’re not drinking’, its no surprise that a quick internet search led me to Seedlip; the original non-alcoholic spirit.

I didn’t really know what to expect of a non alcoholic spirit so decided just to dive straight in and order a bottle of the Garden 108 , along with a selection of premium tonics to experiment with. So here we go…

I started with the Garden 108 paired with Fever Tree Indian tonic. It’s one of those things that tastes exactly like it smells; garden herbs and peas are the breakthrough aromas, and to be fair this is exactly as it is described by Seedlip. What I felt was missing though was the floral element that had been mentioned in the blurb, and although I was trying to get away from overly sweet drinks, this felt to be lacking any sweetness and I struggled to get through the whole glass.

Taking this on board I decided to persevere and try again, but this time using Fever Tree Lemon Tonic. It’s not the serve recommended by Seedlip but I have to say I found this much more drinkable and enjoyable. The lemon tonic adds just enough sweetness and complements the flavours beautifully. Add plenty of ice, a slice of lemon and sprig of mint and you have a long, refreshing summer drink.

At £27.99 per 70cl bottle, it’s not exactly cheap, and while I enjoy the pairing with lemon tonic, the flavours here will not be for everyone. The good news is that since ordering my first bottle, I have discovered that Seedlip Garden can be found in a number of bars and restaurants, so I would advise trying one before committing to a full bottle. The website has a list of high end stockists, but I have also been pleasantly surprised to find it in Pizza Express, Be At One and even my own local, The George in Hayes, Bromley so it’s worth keeping an eye out in your local watering hole. Helpfully, Seedlip also sell a smaller 20cl bottle through their website, which will just give 4 serves for you to experiment with. Enjoy…

If you’ve enjoyed this review, why not leave a comment below and browse our full list of non alcoholic drink reviews.

How to give up drinking

How to give up drinking? Try this method!

How to give up drinking? Possibly the biggest and most important question there is after making that decision to give up in the first place.

This article would be better titled, “How I gave up drinking” – but you know how it is; you’ve got to come up with titles that impress Google these days!

I am not a trained therapist or doctor, so this isn’t in any way medical advice, but it is how I quit and found it pretty easy to give up. I’ve heard from people how they’ve gone from spending their lives away from home in various pubs, only to spend it away from home in various Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. Using this method I had my last alcoholic drink one night, to having no more since – all with a minimum of discomfort. I’ve also subsequently used the same method to give up smoking. All that’s required of you is a sincere desire to stop drinking and the rest will come naturally – given that you’re even reading this article it seems you’ve got that one in the bag already.

I’d love you to give it a try, and if it works for you let me know in the comments.

Don’t give up drinking just yet!

This is possibly one of the most important steps, and fortunately it’s the easiest to follow. Carry on drinking just as you were before, where ever you usually do it. In the pub, at home with friends, in just the same quantity as you’re used to. If you’re a smoker, I’d suggest you carry on with that too; one thing at a time. Go through two ‘cycles’ . For me a cycle was one week – 4 x nights of after work drinking, a Friday night in the pub, Saturday drinking with friends, and Sunday sinking a quick bottle before starting a new week.

Keep a drink diary

Not one of those drink diaries that records “last night I drunk XYZ”; we’re not interested in capturing that. We’ve already decided we’re going to drink as usual so why bother recording it. If you’re anything like me, you already have a pretty decent idea of what you’re drinking without the need to write it down, and if you’re really interested, your debit card statement should provide you with a fairly good idea.

Instead, in the morning, keep a note (paper or smartphone is fine), on how you’re feeling. Not just as a one off exercise, but throughout the morning. Start with how you feel when the alarm goes off, until whenever it is your hangover wears off and you feel like you’re functioning ‘normally’. The important thing is just to note these things – not to beat yourself up about them; let’s face it, you already know they’re happening, but they’ll prove useful later in the process. Here are some comments I noted down:

  • Hard to walk to bus stop and cope with sunshine. No seat which is making me feel like s***
  • I’m paranoid the people near me on the train can smell the alcohol on me even though I’ve covered myself in aftershave
  • Saw myself in a mirror on the way into work. My face is red and my eyes are bloodshot to crap. Come up with a ready made lie about hay fever incase anyone asks
  • Running the morning team meeting. Hard to stand still and concentrate on what people are saying
  • Struggling to grasp difficult technical concepts because my brain is fried

But also, in that drink diary, keep a list of how you felt the night before – did you have fun? Who did you chat to? Did the drink de-stress you? Again, here’s a couple of mine:

  • Had fun at the pub
  • Forgot about work

You’ll note that there’s a difference in the length of those two lists, that isn’t accidental.

Examine the list

Toward the end of your two cycles, examine the list. Perhaps 3-4 days before so you can do so safe in the knowledge that nothing’s being asked of you just yet. Take a look at what you wrote down for the negatives of drinking, I expect there’s a few. Obviously, the easiest way to correct them would be by not drinking; that’s just common sense – so let’s spend more time taking a look at what you’ve written down for the perceived benefits of drinking. On my list these revolved around having fun with friends and de-stressing.

After looking at my list I began to wonder if I hadn’t fallen victim to Ozzy Osbourne’s “drinkers logic”. Let me explain. A few years ago, Ozzy was staying in a hotel and got absolutely blind drunk when a friend dared him to jump off a high balcony. Being as drunk as he was, Ozzy obliged and threw himself off and landed, miraculously, with no broken bones and barely a scratch. After being taken to hospital for a check up the doctor confirmed it: Ozzy had survived because he was so drunk his body and muscles were perfectly relaxed as he fell such that they could absorb the impact when he hit the ground. In Ozzy’s mind this was it: proof that alcohol had saved his life. Of course he’s handily ignored the fact that if he hadn’t been so blind drunk in the first place he would never have thrown himself off the balcony and would never have jeopardised his life in the first place. A real life example of a quote from the Simpson’s “Alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all of man’s problems”.

Have you fallen victim to drinkers’ logic?

Without doubt, a few drinks after work does de-stress you, but take another look at your list. How many things at work are causing you stress precisely because you turned up to work hungover and couldn’t concentrate? How many things are you worried about doing tomorrow because you know you’re going to be in the same boat? Are the things you’re worried about better tackled with a clear head; would there be any harm in trying it, if only for one day?

We think we need a drink to have fun with our friends, but how does that stand up to scrutiny? It used to take me 2 bottles of wine to get merry and tipsy with my friends, which typically took 2-3 hours. Was I bored during that time? No, I was having fun chatting and catching up with friends; the fact that I wasn’t drunk had no impact on my enjoyment, and if anything getting drunk hindered my having fun as I couldn’t remember what we were talking about.

Preparing to give up

Your first night as a new non-drinker will be moderately uncomfortable.  I used the word uncomfortable deliberately. It won’t be painful, it won’t be a chore, it won’t drag by, but it will be mildly irritating as you’ll get a ‘pang’ to drink about once an hour that will last 3-4 minutes. For me those pangs happened between 7pm and 11pm. That’s 4 pangs at 3 minutes each. A total of 12 minutes of minor irritation to be drink free forever.

Keep nearby a few bottles of Lucozade fit water and/or Glaceau smart water as these contain electrolytes and minerals that will really shorten your pangs. 2 bottles of night for the first 3 nights will be ample, but buy more if you think it will help relax you.

Just get though that first night and you’re pretty much home. By my second night, the pangs had dropped by around by 80% and by night number 3 they were barely noticeable.

Staying sober

Remember two key things and you’ll be fine:

Do not tell yourself you “can’t” have a drink. Telling yourself “no” is like telling a 5 year old not to press the big red button; it’s all you’ll want to do. The fact is you’ve chosen not to drink. This was a free choice – you made it, and you’re getting exactly what you want.

You’re not losing anything, but you’re gaining so much. No more hangovers on the way to work, no more lying to make up excuses as to why you’re not yourself, no more spending the weekend in bed. Instead you’re looking forward to things – and think of all the spare cash you’re going to have. All this benefit without having to sacrifice anything; who wouldn’t want that?!

Staying off the booze

I’ve written an article on cutting down vs abstaining. Obviously whatever you do is entirely up to you, I can only share my experience. Keep in mind the benefits and how you’re going to spend the extra cash, and feel enthused that there is an ever growing number of non alcoholic drinks on the market that are just as good – or better – than what you’re used to. You can check them out in our review section.

If you tried this advice, please let me know in the comments how you got on using the comments form below, and you might enjoy reading what happens to your body when you stop drinking alcohol.

Borrago, #47 Paloma Bend

Borrago, #47 Paloma Bend review

Borrago, #47 Paloma Bend review

Price: £19.99 (500ml)

Stockists: Manufacturer’s own, Master of Malt, Wise Bartender

Recommended serve: 25ml Borrago poured over ice, with premium tonic garnished with orange and basil

Alcohol: 0%

Technically, one can’t say that this is an alt-gin as it isn’t blended with juniper berries, but what one can undeniably say is that it’s true to the label when it says that this is a “grown up non alcoholic spirit full of exquisite flavours”.

In polite company, we’re told, there are two things you should never discuss: politics or religion. I’d like to add a third topic of conversation that should never be uttered, lest you condemn your dinner party to an awkward silence – “what’s better, an iPhone or Android?”. A strange thing to mention in a drink review you’re surely thinking, and based on my previous comment I shall proceed with extreme caution,  but I feel this is an alt-gin presented in such a way that Steve Jobs himself would have been proud.

The experience of pouring a Borrago imputes quality in the same way unboxing the latest iPhone does, or the way the experience of unpacking your newest bottle of aftershave or perfume feels innately special. A great solid, heavy bottle in a simple elegant rectangular shape with heavy weight paper and quality artwork, finished with a cork lid that literally ‘pops’ when opened.

It’s well worth stopping for a moment or two to savour the aroma the first time you rip the protective paper seal and remove the stopper. It has a much stronger and more distinct set of fragrances than its market competitors.  Mixed with a premium tonic, you’ll note strong citrus flavours with a pepper finish. It’s a very long drink, you won’t feel like rushing it, and that’s a good thing for drinks in this category; it’s a drink that stands by itself rather than being a compliment to a meal.

There is no alcohol used at any point of the process, meaning it’s not de-alcoholised. In turn this has meant they’ve applied for Halal accreditation. A rather nice touch is that each bottle comes with a small bag of borage flower seeds. This is designed to not only aid the bee crisis that is currently happening, but it also provides the drinker with a pretty, edible flower which can be used to garnish the drink.

It’s a touch on the expensive side at £20 for a 500ml bottle, but then do remember that the recommended serve is 25ml as opposed to 50ml which is common for the genre. Once opened, consume within 12 weeks… as if it’s going to hang around for that long.

Please leave us any comments below, and if you’ve enjoyed this review, why not take a look at our full list of non alcoholic drink reviews.

M&S Sparkling Summer Cup Mocktail Review

M&S Sparkling Summer Cup Mocktail review

M&S Sparkling Summer Cup Mocktail review

Price: £2.90 (4 cans)

Stockists: Marks and Spencer

Recommended serve: Pre-mixed 250ml cans

Alcohol: 0%

Found by accident while walking through M&S in Waterloo, this is a blend of white grape, orange and strawberry juice with sparking water.  Obviously a drink called ‘summer cup’ in a red can is going to be compared to a Pimms. I mixed mine with ice, lemon and lime as that’s what I had to hand, but would imagine you could further enhance the flavour by adding strawberries, mint and cucumber.

Although probably not quite there in terms of flavour compared to a ‘real’ Pimms, that’s probably because it’s made with spring water rather than lemonade. In a blindfold test based on smell alone, I would think a lot of people would confuse the two, but this one isn’t quite as sweet as it’s long established namesake. That said, that doesn’t take anything away from the refreshment factor. You could very happily take a few cans round to a friend’s barbecue or down to the park and certainly not feel out of place.

It’s a very drinkable drink that works well quenching a thirst, so I’d recommend this as a refreshing pick me up, rather than a sipping drink to enjoy over a longer period of time such as an alt-gin or wine, but in any event I’d pick up a few cans before the summer ends and the product is (probably) withdrawn until next year.

If you enjoyed this article, please leave us some comments below and why not take a look at our full list of non alcoholic drink reviews.

Old Mout Berries and Cherries non alcoholic cider review

Old Mout Berries and Cherries non alcoholic cider review

Old Mout Berries and Cherries non alcoholic cider review

Price: £1.28 (supermarkets), around £3.00 in pubs and bars

Stockists: Most supermarkets and widely available at pubs

Recommended serve: Pre-mixed 500ml bottles

Alcohol: 0%

A very fruity alternative to alcohol ciders that is widely available in pubs and bars (at least here in the South East). It is rather a plain drink, and tastes a little like a fizzy blackcurrant squash, and I find that after a couple I’m bored of it and have to move onto something else.

It does a good job however of acting as a booze substitute in a public atmosphere. It’s served in a pint glass with the Old Mount branding etched into the glass meaning that, to the casual observer, it’s just like a “normal pint” meaning you can avoid having the “why aren’t you drinking tonight?” conversation with everyone you come across.

Certainly not a bad starter for the evening, which will keep you going for an hour or two before you end up reaching for a ‘short’ non alcoholic like an eins-zwei-zero  or an ultra low Gin and Tonic.

As it’s a nice cheap drink, it’s perhaps a good way to get started with mindful drinking. If you decide to give it a try, please let me know how you get along using the comments below, and if you’re still browsing why not look at our full list of non alcoholic drink reviews.