This year, we may have to accept the increasingly depressing possibility that, in the UK at least, lavish Christmas parties will be off the cards. Rather than throwing in the towel entirely, however, we advise you to get creative. Stringing up an unholy number of fairy lights and Christmas decorations? Do it – even if just for a Zoom background. Buying all the pigs in blankets you can get your hands on? Don’t question yourself. Taking that sequinned suit for a spin to Tesco? You know it makes sense.
Also up for a rethink this festive season is your drinks cabinet. Consider binning the dodgy bottles of Prosecco and multiple, half-finished gins, and giving it a non-alcoholic makeover with the help of our guide to the best of the booze free bunch, from Insta-friendly aperitifs to whisky-esq warmers. You – and your liver – will thank us in January. (But by all means, keep the sequinned suit on…)
The sun set at about two this afternoon, the rain has picked up in a frankly quite alarming fashion and your boss has dumped yet another project on you to finish by the end of the week. By the time evening rolls around, you’re frazzled, exhausted and don’t feel like doing anything except pouring yourself a deservedly stiff drink. Resist the urge to reach for the good stuff, however, and pick up a bottle of Seedlip’s nifty NOgroni instead: the closest thing you’ll find to a proper, bold, pre-dinner drink with no alcohol whatsoever. Ready to be sloshed straight into a glass over ice, you’ll need nothing more than a twist of orange to plop yourself right in the midst of a balmy evening in sunny Italy, with no work deadlines in sight. Now wouldn’t that be heaven?
You’ve already planned your Christmas Day outfit (tartan goes so well with the Clarendon filter) and practically cleared that boutique local tablescaping company out of stock (napkins are so much more important than the food, babes). So you’ll appreciate the grid-worthy styling of new launch, Ghia: a non-alcoholic aperitif that comes in a retro bottle good enough not just for your drinks cabinet, but your main feed too. Happily, this Mediterranean-inspired number is big on taste as well as looks, with its heady blend of earthy botanicals and a sprinkling of citrus. Kick back with this over ice, in a vintage highball, as you curl up in cream cashmere on your mid-century modern sofa. Of course, you didn’t even see the camera…
All that can truly power one through an all-night party is a hefty dose of Donna Summer and a steady stream of strong Martinis, right? Wrong. Donna Summer may be an essential, but stave off your worst nightmare of a hangover by adding a set of Three Spirits to your evening cocktail line up. This handy collection includes yes, you’ve guessed it, three (alcohol free) spirits: the Livener, the Social Elixir and the Nightcap, blended with stimulating plant extracts to keep you going until dawn. Best of all, there’s no painful compensation the morning after – aside, of course, from any disco dancing-related injuries.
If you rave about the benefits of peated over un-peated, study distilleries with the academic rigour of an Oxbridge professor and own a drinks cabinet that looks more like it belongs to a Bond villain, may we introduce you to your new favourite tipple? Zeo, a recently founded non-alcoholic spirits brand that aims to recreate the smell, taste, even the feel of a proper drink, are launching Spiced Oak, a perfect whisky substitute, at the end of November. Leathery, woody and just the right side of smokey, pair it with an evening on the sofa in front of a roaring fire, a huge woollen throw over your feet, as you gently digest the best stew you’ve ever eaten. Whoever said you couldn’t have a party for one?
It’s all very well staying dry at drinks parties and at home, where most booze-free concoctions can, at a glance, pass for G&Ts, but what about dinners? Nothing is less festive, let’s face it, than sipping a Diet Coke around a table where your friends are busy getting sozzled. So trick yourself (and them) with a bottle of Rock Grace, a peerless dupe for rosé wine you could practically drink all day long. As millennial-friendly as it gets, Rock Grace is infused with adaptogens and even – wait for it – crystals, but don’t be put off: it really does have a calming effect, almost like the real thing.