Robyn Simms, Co-Founder of Square Root Soda
I've been sober for almost two years and my advice for those heading for a night out is to always plan ahead. Take a look at where you might want to go out and see what non-alcoholic options they have on the menu. Or use Club Soda Guide to find places near you that serve great booze-free options and plan what you're going to order. If I can’t find any information about a venue, I’ve been known to be slightly cheeky and bring my own option in my bag to add to drinks at the venue: it's better than just being stuck with a lime and soda!
If you’re hosting this month, remember: good quality citrus makes the world of difference to any drink. You can totally transform a tonic water with a slice of fragrant grapefruit or orange, so keep them on hand at home.
For more drinks ideas and to taste the cocktails below, visit Square Root Soda's Temperance Bar at Seven Dials Market.
Apple, Cardamom & Lime Soda
700g of fresh apples (I like to use a mix of varieties like Bramley, Cox and Discovery)
40g of caster sugar
4 cardamom pods
Add the caster sugar and 100ml of water into a pan. Turn on the heat and stir the liquid until the sugar is fully dissolved and the mixture is starting to simmer.
Break your cardamom pods down by covering them in a clean tea towel and bashing them with a rolling pin or similar. Pour your broken pods into the warm sugar syrup in your pan and turn off the heat.
Cover the pan and leave to cool completely.
While the syrup is cooling, juice or pulp the apples using a smoothie maker or a home juicer.
Squeeze your lime into the apple juice.
Pour in your sugar syrup and stir to combine. Once this is done, you have your cordial. You can refrigerate until you’re ready to serve.
Serve by adding 100ml of cordial to 200ml of soda water in a glass with ice.
For the negroni syrup (makes 700ml):
25ml of balsamic vinegar
180g of white sugar
400ml of water
8 juniper berries
2 cardamom pods
4 allspice berries
4 cubeb peppercorns
6g of dried hibiscus
Slice of orange
Measure out all your spices and give them a quick blitz in a food processor to break them down a little, so you’ll get more of the aromatics into your negroni syrup.
Using a vegetable peeler, remove the rind from the orange and the grapefruit. Next, slice them in half and, using a fork, juice the halves into a saucepan that has a lid.
Add 400ml of water and the 180g of sugar and gently warm to dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar is dissolved, turn up the heat and bring the liquid up to a simmer.
When your liquid is simmering away, add in the broken-down spices and grapefruit and orange rind, turn off the heat and pop the lid on. Your syrup now needs to sit for an hour and a half to infuse.
Once this is done, strain the spices from the syrup using a sieve and discard.
Serve by measuring out 25ml of negroni syrup into a highball glass filled with ice. Top up with tonic water and serve with a big slice of fresh orange. There are so many tonic waters out there to choose from – just pick your favourite or get a selection in and experiment with the different flavours. Your syrup will keep up to four weeks in the fridge if it’s in a sealed container.
1 tbsp of sugar
4 sprigs of fresh mint
Cut your lime in half and squeeze the juice of one of the halves into a tall glass. Cut the other half of the lime into two wedges.
Add the sugar and 1 tbsp of water into the glass and muddle (if you have a muddler) or stir to combine.
Add three sprigs of the mint to the glass and muddle or stir those to release the flavour.
Cover with crushed ice and stir a little to distribute the mint.
Top with soda water and the two lime wedges, giving them a squeeze as they go into the glass. Garnish with the final mint sprig.
Blended and bottled in England, Æcorn Aperitifs are an ideal way to open an occasion. Informed by 17th-century herbal remedies, the concoctions are made from English-grown pinot noir, meunier and chardonnay grapes, pressed early and blended with appetite-stimulating herbs, roots and bitter botanicals. The team suggests mixing up a ‘MartiNo’ by combining 40ml of Æcorn Dry with 40ml of Seedlip Garden, a lemon twist and an olive.
Caleño Juniper & Inca Berry
Caleño's inca berry-flavoured spirit is a distilled infusion of juniper, citrus and spice botanicals, inspired by founder Ellie’s Colombian background. A great alcohol-free alternative, it’s an ideal base for anyone wanting to create a tropical cocktail. Serve simply with tonic water and an inca berry, or mix 50ml of Caleño with 10ml of lime juice and top with pineapple juice for a South American hit.
Ceder's is a distilled non-alcoholic alternative to gin. It is made with classic gin botanicals, giving it an authentic gin-like flavour, and includes buchu, a plant used for thousands of years by indigenous people of South Africa, as well as rooibos grown in the Cederberg mountains. Serve 50ml of Ceder’s Classic with 10ml of lemon juice, 10ml of gomme and top with sparkling white grape juice for a twist on a ‘French 75’.
Jeffrey’s Tonic Syrup
Jeffrey’s tonic syrups and tonic waters are made from herbs and spices such as galangal root, cinchona bark, rosehips, yarrow flowers and cassia. Its flavoursome syrups work brilliantly in cocktails and each of the syrups have been added to Jeffrey’s range of tonic waters. For a non-alcoholic drink, add 50ml of Caleño to Jeffrey’s Yarrow Flower, Rosehip and Elderflower tonic and a slice of orange.
The London Essence Co
The London Essence Company uses traditional distillation techniques to create light and elegant drinks. The collection is light, with naturally sourced sweetness and no more than 20 calories per 100ml. The result is a more sophisticated flavour profile that tastes great served solo with ice and a slice or in a zero-proof cocktail such as a ‘Pea & Cardamon’: 25ml of Seedlip Garden with London Essence Co’s Rhubarb & Cardamom soda, served over ice with a mint sprig.
Missing the ‘Aperol Spritz’? Monte Rosso is a non-alcoholic version of the Italian aperitivo that lends bittersweet notes of wild mountain cranberry and rowanberry, fragrant botanicals, and extracts of summer fruits and citrus. To serve, add 175ml of Monte Rosso to a large glass of ice and garnish with a freshly cut slice of orange.
Nine Elms No.18
Nine Elms No.18 blends the juice of four types of berries and the botanical infusions of 20 flowers, herbs and spices. Although the drink was designed to be served as a straight pour to accompany food (think of it like wine), it has enough acidity to shine in a non-alcoholic cocktail. We like the idea of an ‘Olson’: 75ml of Nine Elms No.18, 10ml of cold-brewed coffee, 75ml of tonic water, a fresh sprig of rosemary and a twist of pink grapefruit.
Scavi & Ray Non-Alcoholic Sparkling Wine
The gentle vacuum-based, de-alcoholisation process used to make this Scavi & Ray version of fizz preserves the rich, round aromas to create a high-quality, non-alcoholic sparkling wine. Its golden colour and notes of honey and apple make this an ideal alternative to prosecco or champagne – great for special occasions.
Perhaps the best-known of all the non-alcoholic spirits on the market, Seedlip now offers three complex blends: Spice 94, Garden 108 and Grove 42. Each of these can be simply served with tonic water or mixed to create sophisticated non-alcoholic cocktails. We like the sound of the ‘Lemon Grove’: 50ml of Grove 42, 15ml of lemongrass cordial and 10ml of raw apple vinegar with a soda top.
Stryyk Not Gin 0%
Stryyk Not Gin is a distilled zero-proof spirit that includes hints of herbs (coriander, sage and basil) and the classic juniper notes that mark this as a derivation of a London Dry gin. It’s 100% natural with no sugar, no fat, no carbs and no artificial flavours. This makes an ideal non-alcoholic G&T: take a glass, fill with ice, add one part Not Gin to two parts tonic, then add your favourite garnish.
Three Spirit is a plant-based alternative to alcohol. It’s the result of a year spent in libraries, labs, fields and bars, experimenting with plants for taste and effect. Three Spirit is not an imitation of an alcoholic drink; it’s for when you want to try something new and do things differently. We like the sound of a ‘Herbal Stimulant’. Based on an ‘Espresso Martini’, the drink comprises 50ml of Three Spirit charged with 25ml of espresso and 10ml of maple syrup.