In Cocktails and Drinks

Shaken but not slurred

Cocktails don’t have to be lethal — there are great concoctions with low or no alcohol.

ate to break it to you, but there’s no such thing as a healthy cocktail — that’s called a smoothie. True, some are so tasty I find myself hovering over the blender, vodka in hand, then glance at the clock and blush with breakfast shame. All alcohol is bad for your liver, but some is good for the soul. Happily for those on a health kick, low-to- no-alcohol, reduced-sugar and even vegan cocktails are now on trend.

The slogan at Redemption Bar, which launched in Notting Hill in 2015 and Shoreditch last year, is “spoil yourself without spoiling yourself”. The very concept riles me, but it’s dry without being arid and vegan but not so you’d notice. Redemption’s coco-rita (right) will have you convinced you’re getting tipsy. Coconut is a superb stealth mixer, so emolliate your mouth with the coconut-butter old fashioned from the Vault at Milroy’s of Soho (below).

“The UK has tended to offer those who prefer not to drink little beyond fruit juice or soda,” says Charlie McCarthy, head of the consultancy All About the Cocktail. “Bars now put as much thought into non-alcoholic offerings as they always should have done.”

Embrace herbaceous cordials and bitter grown-up tastes. If you’re cutting calories, avoid diet tonic. Instead, pour soda water and a big splash of Bitter Truth Old Time Aromatic Bitters — bursting with cinnamon, anise and clove (£12.36, Yes, all bitters contain booze, but it dissipates to homeopathic proportions.

As part of the shift from sugary fruitiness, vegetables are sprouting. “Until recently, I would’ve baulked at a carrot in a coupette,” admits Julian de Féral, head of drinks for the Gorgeous Group. “Bartenders are now understanding their flavours and how to process them.”

So, say cheers to your five a day! Or night.

The coco-rita


  • 75ml freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 25ml birch syrup (a healthy sugar replacement)
  • 50ml coconut water
  • 25ml freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 5 ice cubes
  • Himalayan rock salt, to garnish

01 Choose a beautiful martini glass, run a segment of lime around the top and dip it into the salt to create a salt rim.

02 Vigorously mix all the other ingredients in a shaker for 20 seconds.

03 Strain into the glass and garnish with an edible flower and/or a lime wheel.

Coconut-butter old fashioned


  • 75g coconut butter
  • 70cl bottle Buffalo Trace bourbon


  • 2 dashes of Peychaud’s bitters
  • 2 dashes of Angostura bitters
  • 60ml of the infused bourbon
  • 10ml sugar syrup

01 Heat the coconut butter until it becomes liquid. Add the bourbon. Leave the mixture in a container at room temperature for 4 hours, then freeze until the coconut butter solidifies. Remove it from the top of the bourbon infusion.

02 Stir the ingredients with ice and serve over ice in a lowball glass.

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