Words: Jessica Sweetman
Artwork: Paul Smith
Jessica Sweetman dives into the muddy non-alcoholic waters of Dry January so you don’t have to. Each week we’ll be posting a Dry January dispatch that will check in with our guinea pig and provide an objective and scientifically impeccable study of a non-alcoholic beverage. We’ve reached the last hurdle. Our last week of Dry January sees Jess sample a non-alcoholic take on Campari.
And just like that, we’re out the other side of Dry January… Praise be. Maybe you’ve already hit the booze with a new lease of life or maybe you’ve decided to forgo alcohol just a little bit longer. Either way January is officially over, evenings are a smidge brighter, and vaccines are coming to a theatre near you. Hallelujah!
The one question everyone’s asking me is ‘how do you feel?’ Well, crippling pandemic-fuelled anxiety aside, pretty darn good actually. Life without booze-bloat, hangovers, breakouts and a dependency complex is nice. Not sufficiently nice to go off the drink for good, but definitely nice enough to cut down considerably. This past month has shown me that it can be done easier than I previously thought – shout out to the zero-alcohol drinks industry. I’m sure many managed fine with a coke or a fizzy water, but I leaned heavily on alcohol-free beers and other fun-tasting substitutes. Which leads me to our final Dry Jan review…
Lyre’s Italian Orange Non-Alcoholic Spirit, €23.50 (on offer, usually €26) from Supervalu.
You’ll also find their Gin, Malt and Italian Spritz varieties there. Check out the Lyre’s website to see the full range (also recommended is to gauge reviews beforehand, not all non-alcoholic liqueurs are created equal).
The good people at Lyre’s have created a range of non-alcoholic spirits that mimic their alcoholic counterparts. Risky. My brother made the observation that the name tells you everything you need to know (‘liars’) but they don’t lack ambition to be fair to them. And it seems to have paid off. After a quick google I found that a bunch of their products have won awards at various spirits competitions, even when up against real booze. Their Italian Orange, which is a campari imitation, won gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, so I picked up a bottle to judge for myself.
Life without booze-bloat, hangovers, breakouts and a dependency complex is nice. Not sufficiently nice to go off the drink for good, but definitely nice enough to cut down considerably.
In the interest of science I tried it straight over ice to get an accurate picture of what we’re dealing with here. It looks and smells like campari, though a little pinker and a little sweeter. And it tastes… Like the real deal. Bitter and orangey with a hint of maraschino cherry, it’s delicious and complex. It’s definitely much sweeter than campari but it’s well balanced, you need the sugar to counteract the bitterness. I topped it up with some tonic water but it gets a little overpowered, soda water or straight with grapefruit peel works best. The website tells me it works well mixed with their Dry London Spirit and Aperitif Rosso to make a fake Negroni. As a negroni lover I’m skeptical, but if the other spirits are as good as this one then it might just work. I’ve already ordered the Amaretti to give it a day in court. These spirits would be a great shout mixed with actual spirits for a low ABV cocktail, and definitely fill the ceremonious gap when it comes to zero alcohol drinks. I’ll be coming back to them long after Dry Jan.
So would I do it all again? Absolutely. There’s so many great alternatives out there that make it super easy to take an alcohol break. As long as you stay clear of the ‘wine’ and a few dodgy alcohol free beers (looking at you Peroni) you’re laughing.