Alcohol & menopause don't mix. 5 'grown-up' alcohol-free drinks to enjoy.

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It’s Alcohol Awareness Week, so we thought we’d take a timely look at alternatives to alcohol. We celebrate, kick-back, socialise and sometimes commiserate, with alcohol-based drinks. If we want to cut down, cut back or cut out alcohol, what are the options?

Alcohol poses an increased risk for women when oestrogen with its protective factors, disappears in menopause. Many women now find that alcohol sensitivity increases and tolerance levels fall through the floor. Hot flushes, anxiety, insomnia and weight gain are exacerbated. More troublingly, alcohol increases the risk of heart disease, cancers, osteoporosis and liver disease. This list is by no means exhaustive but you get the picture. So, what’s a woman to drink?

We need antidotes to those cloying, sweet, fruity, syrupy drinks (yes, lime&soda, I’m even talking about you) when we decide to go alcohol-free. At HF we’re looking for an adult drink to sip, that’s zesty, bitter, sour and zingy.

Some of the drinks we’ve found are alcohol-free and others have a small alcohol by volume measure of 0.5%, a negligible amount.

 

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Bitters


Bitters, a blend of herbs, spices and botanical products infused in alcohol, so far so unappealing! However, the range of flavours from citrus to chilli and celery, makes them the mixologists friend. A little goes a long way. Its alcohol-based, but a couple of drops of a flavoured bitter added to tonic water in a glass loaded up with ice & a slice (lemon, lime, cucumber or orange) will give a taste experience to rival any G&T but without the pesky effects of alcohol. Try Fee Brothers 1864 Grapefruit Bitters, around £9.70 for 150ml.

Botonique



Botonique, the ‘champagne of heath drinks’ or ‘the soft drink for wine lovers’, according to its blurb, created for wine drinkers as an alternative rather than as an imitation. A fizzy blend of botanical extracts, minerals and pear juice gives Botonique a crisp, dry flavour. Low in calories with no added sugars or preservatives, it really is a good option when wine o’clock strikes and you want to enjoy some fizz. Available online from Botonique at £6.99 a bottle, or from other online retailers.

Alcohol-free beers 



Big Drop’s Pale Ale was a pleasant surprise. Although we're not big beer drinkers, we found this chilled, dry-hopped, pale-ale, a delicious sipping drink. A good flavour (pine & honey, apparently!) and colour made it seem like a pretty good craft beer experience to us. Stouts, lagers and ales are all available as low ABV options. We’ve just looked at one brand but there’s a host of low/free alcohol-beers and lagers to choose from. Big Drop’s Pale Ale is available in cases of 12 (£30.99) from the Dry Drinker and other online retailers. 

Alcohol-free wines

We have to confess we haven’t tried these, due to the underlying impression we have, that they’re too sweet (based on the type of sweet grape that’s used in the fermenting process) but looking around there’s a decent choice out there, as retailers respond to the trend for cutting back or cutting out alcohol. Tesco and M&S both offer red, white and sparkling wines that have been positively reviewed. Worth a shot we’d say.

Seedlip

A grown-up, G&T-like experience, but without the guilt. No alcohol, no calories and with taste reminiscent of your favourite gin or vodka. Being sugar and sweetener-free too, makes this distilled non-alcoholic spirit a grown-up experience. Juniper-free means it doesn’t taste exactly like gin but mixed with tonic, ice and a slice, you get a very shippable tipple. All the pleasure with none of the pain that comes with too many G&Ts. We love Seedlip Garden 108 Spirit, 70cl bottle, £27.95.