You and alcohol

Alcohol-free drinks

Switching to non-alcoholic beer?
Recipes and tips for non-alcoholic drinks
Alcohol in food

Switching to non-alcoholic beer?

‘Can I drink non-alcoholic beer?’

Switching to non-alcoholic beer may seem a logical step if you want to cut down on or give up alcohol. However, it’s questionable if this makes sense for everyone. After all, even though it’s non-alcoholic beer you’re drinking, you’re not breaking the habit of drinking beer in those familiar situations. And that’s just what you may need to do.
The danger in these situations is that the change in your usual behaviour is so minimal that switching back to regular beer is often a small step. In some situations, however, non-alcoholic beer can help people to drink less. Simply replacing alcoholic beer with non-alcoholic beer without having given it a second thought is not a good idea. It is important to note that some `non-alcoholic` beers do actually also contain small amounts of alcohol. Often, substituting non alcoholic drinks, like Coca Cola or fruit juices can assist in the craving for something to drink. 

Recipes and tips for non-alcoholic drinks

Be careful you don't drink too much coffee or tea, or you might not get to sleep! Why not try decaffeinated coffee/tea, herbal or fruit teas. Juices are good substitutes for alcohol or coffee. Good ones to try are apple, orange, and grapefruit, and there are mixed fruit juices available too. You might also like to try combinations such as half bitter lemon & half orange juice, half cranberry juice & half soda water. If you prefer savoury or spicy flavours, then tomato juice is a good alternative, if you like with tabasco, salt and pepper. There are other vegetable juices you might like too. Just try a few and see what you like best. Try something new for a change!

Here are a few recipes for drinks without alcohol:

Honey iced tea:
Ingredients: 1 lemon tea bag, 4 cloves, 5 dessert spoons acacia honey, 300 ml red grape juice and a bunch of green grapes.
Boil 700 ml water and make a pot of lemon tea with the teabag. Let steep for four minutes and pour into a jug. Stir in the remaining ingredients and leave to cool. Chill for 3 hours. Remove the cloves and add sugar if you like. Pour into tall glasses and garnish with a few grapes.

Ginger tea:
Recipe for 1 litre: six to eight pieces of fresh ginger, two slices of lemon, hot water. Leave to steep before drinking.

Cherry mix:
In a litre jug, mix 700 ml cherry juice, 300 ml ginger ale, 3 dessert spoons sugar syrup and lemon juice to taste.
Add more syrup or lemon juice if you like. Serve cold in tall glasses, garnished if you like with an orange segment and a grape on a skewer.

Hot punch:
Mix 500 ml red grape juice with 200 ml redcurrent juice and the juice of half a lemon. Add a piece of lemon peel, a cinnamon stick, sugar to taste and a handful of black raisins. Heat over a low flame. Remove cinnamon stick and lemon peel, and pour into heat proof glasses.

Serving tips:
Red and green grape juice goes well with meals. Red grape juice goes better with red meats, and green with fish. Many people also like apple juice, tonic and mineral water at the table. It's more fun if you pay a little attention to the glassware with non-alcoholic drinks too. Serve a `long drink` in a tall glass without a stem, and other juices and mixes in a  wine glass. Sparkling juices look festive in a champagne glass. You can also decorate glasses with a slice of lemon or dip the edge in sugar (dip the edge in lemon syrup first).

Alcohol in food.

"I have stopped drinking but have a lot of recipes where I use wine. Am I right in thinking this evaporates during cooking?"

For the evaporation of alcohol to occur, it is important that your dish reaches boiling point. But even more important is the number of minutes that your dish is cooking.  Here you will find the evaporation percentages in combination with your method of cooking. In general, the more alcohol you put in your dish, the more alcohol will stay behind.

To give you an idea of the evaporation percentages: if you let a dish boil for a short period, only 15% of the alcohol will evaporate. If you serve flambe, 25% will evaporate. After 15 minutes of stewing, 60% of the alcohol is gone. After 1 hour of boiling, 75%. In all cases, alcohol will be left beihind on your dish. And drinks with higher percentages of alcohol will not evaporate quicker than drinks with a lower percentage.

If you want to stop drinking or if you are cooking for children, it is sensible to be aware of the possible alcohol content in your food.