Let’s get this straight: there’s no such thing as healthy cocktails.
Alcohol isn’t good for you whichever way you muddle, shake or stir it. So a ‘healthy cocktail’ is, by necessity, no — or at least low — alcohol. Luckily, the ‘mocktails’ (shudder) of old have had a much needed evolution away from weak elderflower cordial and pints of orange juice rammed with enough sugar to stun a horse. The new wave of booze-free drinks are just as slickly mixed and carefully crafted as any smoked blood orange and pine Old Fashioned.
Seedlip, the alcohol, sugar and calorie-free spirit, is leaping onto bar shelves across London, with three different blends available and a new cocktail book out on 1 November full of I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-boozy drinks. Any London bar worth its salt rim stocks the stuff, from Bloomberg Arcade’s new Asian restaurant Kym’s (shout out to the Mangrove — Seedlip with mango, oak smoke and basil) to the Savoy, where the NA Moonwalk mixes Seedlip Grove 42 with smoked-salt, non-alcoholic grapefruit bitters and verjus.
It’s not all about Seedlip, either. Pure softs that don’t pretend to booziness are getting serious at new bars across town. There’s the revamped Alphabet Bar’s grilled lemon and saffron lemonade, Rovi’s sage and mountain tea kombucha, and the pine and elderflower spritz at newly cool Corinthia Hotel’s Bassoon bar. Then there’s World’s Best Bar (and imminently closing) Dandelyan at the Mondrian, where drinks such as the herbal HMS Hi-Ball and zingily sweet Goose & Gander #2 are offered without booze. And at trendy West Hampstead’s new Heads + Tails, lower-alcohol drinks include supremely refreshing sips such as the pink lemonade (Lillet rose vermouth, homemade lemon sherbet, soda).
Remember, this isn’t about being bad or good — you’re drinking cocktails, not saving the planet. ‘Healthy’ cocktails simply allow you to be sociable come festive party season without ending up in a bush. Something we can all probably drink too, eh?