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Alcohol – free Drinks for a Dinner Party.

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Alcohol – free Drinks for a Dinner Party.Personally I don’t like going out to dinner and having NO alcohol and can (if needs must) sit over a single small glass of wine all night. This is mostly because if I start on water I end up drink gallons especially if it’s sparkling – and I end up paying more than a ‘night on the tiles with the lads’. Here are some alternatives.
The Fern House Café in Avoca, Kilmacanogue serves its water flavoured with masses of cucumber and fresh mint. It is a classic combination well worth trying. With lightly sparkling water, it both looks and tastes great. You could even add some puréed watermelon to make a more sophisticated version. Another option is a GT without the G. It is surprising how many people cannot detect the difference, initially at least. A dry tonic with a hint of lime is dry and refreshing, and has a lovely grown-up bitterness.
Sunny Day Breeze A version of the classic breeze, this was created by the team of mixologists at Harvey Nichols award-winning First Floor Bar, where it is available for €5.50. Shake 2oz pineapple juice, ¾ oz of mango puree and a dash of orange sugar syrup together and pour over crushed ice into a sling glass. Slowly add crushed ice and cranberry juice over the top to create a layered effect. Garnish the cocktail with orange zest resting on top of the glass.
Fentimans Ginger Beer, €3.95 for a 75cl bottle, €1.95 for 275ml I love the intense spicy, gingery flavours of the Fentimans. It packs a real punch and has some interesting complex flavours on the palate. The finish is fairly spicy, so you probably won’t be able to drink more than a few glasses. Fentimans also does an excellent adult orange juice, and a very unusual Dandelion and Burdock drink, too. Stockists: Widely available in health food shops, delis, and good off-licences nationwide
Belvoir Fruit Farms Cranberry Pressé, 750ml, €3.59 Of all the cranberry drinks I tried, this had the most genuine fruit flavour. It does have blueberry and blackcurrant too, so it tastes pleasingly of dark fruits. It is lightly fizzy, and the finish is not too sweet. In a similar vein, I also enjoyed the Thorncroft Autumn Rosehip Cordial mixed with some sparkling water. Stockists: Widely available in health food shops and delis
The Apple Farm Sparkling Irish Apple Juice, €4 for a 25cl bottle Most of the soft drinks I tried were either English or French, but this was an absolutely delicious Irish drink made from locally grown apples. It is cloudy, lightly sparkling with lovely, pure apple fruit flavour. Because it isn’t too sweet, it went very well with food (perfect with roast pork), but would make a good aperitif too. The same company’s sparkling apple and blackcurrant juice was equally good.Stockists: Widely available in specialist retailers. See for details
La Mortuacienne Citron, Rième Boissons, €1.95 for a 33cl bottle, €3.99 for a 75cl bottle Part of a very good range produced in the Jura in France, this is more like the bitter lemon my dad used to drink with his gin. It has a good bitter lemon flavour, lightly fizzy, finishing sweet, and very thirst-slaking. Stockists: Widely available through wine shops and specialist delis, including Mitchell Son, CHQ, Dublin 1 and Glasthule, Co Dublin, and Fallon Byrne, Exchequer Street, Dublin 2
The first alcohol-free beers contained so much sulphur that you got a hangover without the alcohol the following morning. The more modern versions are much superior, and nobody will know you aren’t drinking (it is surprising the pressure other drinkers put on their non-drinking friends).
Last summer I tried a couple of beers, very low-alcohol drinks once widely consumed throughout Europe, even at breakfast, or by children when water was unsafe to drink.
Most alcohol-free beer does in fact contain about .5% alcohol, as it is impossible to remove all of the alcohol. This is normally done by reverse osmosis or by heating the beer, and boiling off the alcohol.
Erdinger Weissbrau Alkoholfrei, 50cl, €1.99 I tried four alcohol-free beers, Estrella Sin, Becks, Paulaner Weiss and Erdinger. You would be quite happy to drink all of them. The Paulaner had more wheaty flavour, but the Erdinger won through with its crisp, clean acidity. I am told that it outsells all others in Irish off-licences. Stockists: Widely available in off-licences nationwide


About pfiddle

Fiddle teacher - mostly Irish trad. Fiddle, mandolin and concertina. Eco-warrior, won E.U. Green Flower Award for Eco Accommodation. Also Irish (Gold) GHA. Green Hospitality Award. Mad keen on self-build - especially straw-bale and cob. 55 with a full head of (slightly) graying hair. No tattoos or piercings. Fond of animals - but legally so. Fond of food - I eat nothing else. Vegetarian by choice, Irish by the grace of birth, Munster by force of (rugby) arms.

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