Dry January in Cambridge

Where to get the best sober drinks

Overindulged during the festive period and keen to get a grip on your life again, or are you a non-alcohol convert already? These days, it’s a lot easier to have fun and party with excellent alternatives for alcoholic drinks.

Opting for alcohol-free drinks is not just a new thing. It has been happening over the last few years, and the market is catching up quickly. Producers recognise this demand, and it is certainly not a niche anymore. Noseco was one of the first alcohol-free sparkling wines and has the largest market share right now.

Over the years, I have had a lot of non-alcoholic drinks, and I have to admit that many are pretty disappointing. Especially the wines. Australia claims to be the leading producer, as its bold grape varieties allow it to create better non-alcoholic alternatives.

Session wines are the newest kid on the block. I am sure you have heard of session beer, which has been around for centuries and was a good alternative to water when it was unsafe to drink. As wine consumption is in decline, the wine brand Nice has launched their ‘session wine’ as they spotted a niche in the market, and their session wine has a lower ABV of 3.4%

My go-to non-alcoholic drinks are Noseco and Ginger beer, but my all-time favourite is Ruby Aperitif by Wave Length. A creation of craft beer brewers in Cornwall, and it’s my alternative for an alcohol-free Negroni. I love the bitter and tangy flavour and mix it with sparkling mineral water, a dash of fresh orange juice and a slice of orange. The creators might have been inspired by Crodino, which is much sweeter. After drinking copious glasses of this Italian soda aperitif during my two pregnancies in the 90s, I’m afraid I can’t face it any more.

My current favourite cocktail is a basil smash, which I discovered on my recent visit to Krakow in 2023. It is not everybody’s ‘cup of tea’, but I love it! A sirup made from mango, basil and sea salt served over ice and finished with the juice of one lime and a good dash of soda. Garnished with fresh basil and sea salt. Indeed, the alternative to a Gin Basil Smash.

Well, you’ll be pleased to hear that you don’t have to dash over to Krakow to get your Zero fix. There are some pretty amazing drinks and places in Cambridge to have fun if you are abstaining from alcohol.

Cold brewed Earl Grey kombucha with lychee syrup and sweet pickled – copyright VanderLyle

Fine dining restaurants

Come on, spoil yourself in the new year on one of the ultimate dining experiences in Cambridge, but don’t fancy a flight of wine to pair your tasting menu? Don’t worry. You certainly don’t have to miss out on a fantastic drinks pairing. The carefully crafted alcohol-free flights at Cambridge’s top restaurants, Restaurant 22, Midsummer House and VanderLyle will enhance your exclusive dining experience, as just as much thought has gone into the creation of these drinks as the food.

Cocktail at the Indian restaurant Golpo

Sober Bar

Are you looking for one of the ultimate evenings out where you can enjoy fine food, an array of alcohol-free drinks, and not just the odd Mocktail but wine and beer to choose from? I know just the right place! Golpo – the Bengal Cafe & Restaurant on Hills Road, the only Sober Bar in Cambridge with a fantastic offer of zero-alcohol drinks, wine, beer and even sparkling wine with glitters!

Fancy something different than Indian Cuisine? Head over to Mill Road to the North African restaurant, Bedouin and be transferred to a Bedouin tent where the walls are draped with rugs from the Sahara tribes. Tuck into traditional heart-warming tagines and couscous dishes from across the Maghreb and sip on mint tea or refreshing alcohol-free cocktails.

Zero wine at local wine merchants – copyright King Street Cellar

Wine Merchants

Checking out our newest Wine Merchant for his offering, I loved the owner Ben’s wording: ” Whether you’re having a dry, damp or soaking wet January, today is the perfect day for us to shout about the lovely de-alcoholised wine from Wednesdays Domain“. Ben’s new Wine shop is on King Street. If you haven’t been yet, go and say hello and check out the full range at King Street Cellar.

Fancy a bite of street food and meeting up with friends over a zero-alcohol drink? The quirky bottle shop Thirsty Cambridge on Chesterton Road has food trucks rocking up every day on their kerb, and they stock Wednesdays Domain, too.

Pretty beer gardens
Excellent alcohol-free alternatives at the Free Press Pub

A quaint Pub

Finding a pub serving low-alcohol beer isn’t difficult these days, but where to go if you want a good old local pub away from the crowds that offers more than a good selection of these beers? The Free Press Pub, just off Parker’s Piece, is one of the favourite pubs of the Cambridge community. A hidden gem serving excellent pub grub but also Asian and Mediterranean-inspired food and, of course, a good Scotch Egg. And what about drinks? Expect a good selection of low-alcohol beer and fancy alcohol-free cocktails.

Meadows on Mill Road is the sister deli/cafe of Meadows in Newham

Local deli and cafe

Meadows – cheese monger, kitchen & bottle shop is a unique business, a neighbourhood delicatessen in Newham and Mill Road.  They specialise in food that is delicious and good for our health, which also supports regenerative farming and small, independent local businesses. 

They are keen supporters of local businesses and stock delicious local juices, Kombutcha and NODE, carefully created small batch non-alcoholic drinks.

Meadows in Newham is a deli only, and on Mill Road, they have a cafe, too. The perfect place to meet up with friends. Keep an eye out for their pop-ups.

NODE small batch non-alcoholic drinks – copyright NODE

Sober producer

Looking for a non-alcoholic drink and want to push the boundaries for something more exciting? Check out the low/no-alcohol NODE drinks created by Sam Adams whilst working at one of the top restaurants in Cambridge. He launched this exciting brand in 2022 and NODE has become very popular in his hometown, Cambridge, and further afield and in London, too. Sam is the small batch low/no-alcohol producer who wants to

Virtue Bottle Shop story – copyright Virtue Bottle Shop

Sober trader

Calling all Cambridge fine zero drinkers! We can now welcome our ‘own’ non-alcohol trader, the Virtue Bottleshop. This exciting female owned business launched in 2023. Their motto is ‘ No spirit for your spirit’ offering you a fine selection of alcohol free drinks.

Whether you’re sober curious, taking a night off from booze, or just want a clear mind, Virtue has you covered. Discover the best no and low-alcohol drinks, all in one place. We’re all about enjoying life without alcohol, with zero compromises.

Tasty Mocktails at funky cocktail bars

Cocktail fun

Signature botanical cocktails and carefully created alcohol free cocktails at some of the finest places in Cambridge. The places to hang out for this are NOVI Cambridge and the Orator at the Cambridge Union. Expect something different, exciting and tasty and seasonal cocktails at the Orator. Fancy a delicious ‘Freewheeler’..Zesty Caleno light, lime juice & agave syrup then the Old Bicycle Shop is the place for your tipple!

Dry January Pop-up party – copyright Virtue Bottle Shop

Let’s party…..

Cambridge, save the date – 13 January 2024!! The first dry pop up has come to Cambridge! The location is a funky cocktail bar in Edington, Douce.

They’ll be popping bottles, beers, and more — grab your (free) spot HERE.

See you there!

Organised by Virtue Bottle Shop

food tour
Join a fun food walking tour and sample tasty sober options

Food walking tour

Join a fun food walking tour with the Cambridge Food Tour and discover that Cambridge has a lot to offer. Explore the historic centre and off the beaten track Cambridge, discovering the real Cambridge, new places to eat and drink, tasting delicious food and sipping interesting non-alcoholic drinks at local independents.

Locally produced juices are available at many independent businesses

Locally produced Soft drinks

Cambridge can be very proud of having excellent soft drink producers, whose aim is not only to create delicious drinks but only wanting to trade with independent businesses. Breckland Orchard and Cambridge Juice can be found at local independent shops and restaurants, cafes and pubs.

The Cambuca is new to the scene. Launched in 2023, this Kombucha is made in the Fenlands, Waterbeach in small batches.

Cheers to a sober January!

Gerla

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