BOTTOMS UP: Putting 'dry January' to the test
On the tasting panel were John McGrath, a non-drinker whose tipple of choice is Pepsi Max. Keelin McNamara describes herself as a moderate drinker who would go for a sparkling water if not drinking on a night out, and Laura Mac Donald who also describes herself as a moderate drinker, is partial to a gin and tonic.
As for me, I enjoy wine with a meal or, let's face it, without a meal, and beer when the weather gets warmer.
However, I often take the car on a night out and then opt for sparkling water, sometimes with a dash of lime for added excitement. I've never thought of drinking non-alcoholic beer or wine as an alternative, and neither had the others, so that's where we started.
First up was the Russian Baltika alcohol-free lager (€1.99 for 50cl in Baggot St Wines), which we all found nice and Laura and Keelin both said they would drink it. "It looks and tastes like beer", remarked John.
Erdinger Alkohol Frei
Erdinger Alkohol Frei (€2.39 for 50cl in Baggot St Wines), the isotonic, vitamin rich drink, soon to be downed by athletes everywhere (that is, if you do what their marketing team say), was a winner with us.
Laura could see people drinking it after exercise and we all thought it really nice with a stronger taste than Baltika.
Spanish Torres Muscat
Then on to the Spanish Torres Muscat (€8.49 in Baggot St Wines), a wine that promises it is "for everyone who would like to enjoy the pleasures of the earth with all of its taste and a minimum of alcohol" (it contains 0.5pc alcohol).
A lofty promise and I, for one, was not convinced. It tasted too sweet for me and not like wine, although Keelin and Laura thought it "grand".
Vimto (€3.16 for 6 x 330ml in Tesco) has been re-launched in Ireland and contains no added sugar and a mix of fruit juices and sweetener. It tastes very sweet and according to Laura "too much like medicine". Keelin announced she wouldn't be able for more than one glass, although John decided it would be nicer with ice in the garden in summer.
Shloer's Berry Punch
We tried Shloer's Berry Punch (€2.45 for 750ml in Tesco), which is sweet and fizzy and I really liked it. John added that it was tangy.
Appletiser, (€3.99 for 750ml in Tesco) was up next, one of your five-a- day and containing no colourants, preservatives or added sugar. Laura loved it as did I, and John admitted he felt the bubbles in this drink were the "most pleasant" of the lot.
Lastly, we went for a ginger beer. Fentimans to be exact (€1.39 for 275ml in Tesco), a "fermented botanical ginger drink with herbal extracts". Laura thought it was "yummy", John commented on the peppery kick, and we all felt the after glow of warmth in our tummies.
Our final conclusions: Keelin and Laura favoured the ginger beer (although Laura added it would also be lovely with whiskey, which goes against the point of this exercise). John's favourites were Shloer and Appletiser, while I opted for Appletiser. Of the beer and wine, Erdinger Alkohol Frei won hands down.
And then we drove safely home!
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