Hurrah! We’re finally allowed to meet up with friends again after our winter of lockdown — a few drinks will definitely be in order.
From today, outdoor gatherings of either six people or two households are allowed, and that means mini get-togethers and selective garden parties.
For those of us who have been hibernating for months, alcohol might be just what we need to ease us gently back into socialising once more.
Louise Atkinson tests quirky new cocktails which claim to be good for you as lockdown eases and many people get back into socialising once again
But if you’ve gained a little lockdown weight and are keen to limit your calorie intake, is there a less indulgent — even healthy — way to slip into the party spirit?
Louise Atkinson tests a selection of quirky new cocktails which claim to be good for you —in more ways than one.
BOOZY PROBIOTICS: Blood orange Negroni, 142 calories
Blood orange Negroni, 142 calories
The classic Italian gin, sweet vermouth and Campari cocktail gets a calorie-cutting twist with blood orange-flavour sparkling kombucha.
Recipe: mix 25ml gin, 25ml Campari, 150ml Remedy Switchel Blood Orange (£29.99 for 24 cans, remedydrinks.com) over ice and garnish with an orange twist.
Health gains: Kombucha is lightly effervescent, fermented tea with a sour, yeasty flavour. This fruit-flavoured kombucha from Remedy is sugar-free and made from fermented raw apple cider vinegar and ginger, so it’s full of antioxidants, live cultures and organic acids that claim to aid digestion and aid immunity.
FRUITY LOW-CAL FIZZ Slowbrero
Verdict: Deliciously fruity with a slightly bitter aftertaste — just like a proper Negroni (which would normally be about 200 calories). The best way to take a daily probiotic. 5/5
FRUITY LOW-CAL FIZZ
Slowbrero, 150 calories
A lower-calorie version of the tequila-based margarita, using a dragon fruit-flavoured sparkling mixer.
Recipe: mix 25ml tequila, 10ml vodka, 10ml citrus liqueur, such as triple sec, and the juice of half a lime with 50ml Slow Cow (£6.99 for four, amazon.co.uk) over ice and serve in a glass with a salty rim.
Health gains: Slow Cow is claimed to be the calming antithesis of energy drinks such as Red Bull. Instead of caffeine, it contains herbal extracts to aid relaxation, improve mood, concentration, memory and learning capacity — in theory. It is pale blue (to encourage calmness) and has zero calories.
Verdict: The blue colour is alarmingly medicinal, and although Slow Cow works well as a mixer, this elaborate cocktail bears little resemblance to a proper margarita. A strong aftertaste of artificial sweetener. 2/5
SPARKLING CBD: Gin and elderflower, 83 calories
Gin and elderflower, 83 calories
A twist on the classic gin and tonic, using a sparkling, low-calorie elderflower and mint mixer.
Recipe: 25ml gin over ice with a can of Trip (£17.99 for six, drink-trip.com)
Health gains: Trip is a fizzy low-calorie mixer with 15mg CBD or cannabidiol. This is the non-psychoactive compound found in hemp plants, which won’t give you a cannabis high, but is said to balance the body’s ‘endocannabinoid system’ controlling sleep, stress, anxiety, immunity, pain and inflammation. CBD supplements are also claimed to make you feel more creative, less anxious and stressed. Trip contains botanicals, too, such as ginseng and chamomile, to help the body cope with stress. And it only hs 19 calories in a can.
Verdict: The whiff of mint completely dominates any elderflower taste. The cocktail is surprisingly cloudy, with heavily herby overtones making it more savoury than expected. 2/5
NO-BOOZE COLD BREW: Espresso martini, 81 calories
NO-BOOZE COLD BREW
Espresso martini, 81 calories
A zero-alcohol version of an espresso martini made with the herb-infused non-alcoholic spirit, Amplify.
Recipe: Shake 50ml Amplify (£15 for 50cl, from supermarkets), 15ml runny honey, 60ml cold brew coffee and a pinch of salt in a cocktail shaker with ice and pour into a martini glass.
Health gains: By drinking this version, you’ll be skipping the alcohol and getting hints of juniper berries, coriander seeds, angelica root, lemon peel, lemongrass and ginseng root instead. Add to this the purported health boost of coffee (studies show that the polyphenols it contains can have a disease-fighting antioxidant effect), plus the beneficial micronutrients from the honey.
Verdict: Sadly, this does not come even close to a proper espresso martini in flavour or decadence. It tastes like sweet black coffee with top notes of lemony floor cleaner. 1/5
IMMUNITY-BOOSTER: Pina colada, 155 calories
Pina colada, 155 calories
A pina colada is usually off limits to anyone watching their weight, but this lighter version uses coconut water instead of coconut cream, so contains less sugar and fat.
Recipe: 50ml Aluna coconut rum (£25 for 70cl, waitrose.com), 50ml Vita Coco coconut water, 100ml pineapple juice, juice of half a lime over ice.
Health gains: Almost 50 per cent fewer calories (a classic pina colada is about 270 calories) thanks to the use of coconut water rather than coconut cream, plus the white rum Aluna boasts a lower sugar content compared to others. Coconut water contains potassium which can lower blood pressure and boost athletic performance. You also get a burst of health-giving antioxidants plus the enzyme bromelain (which can reduce inflammation, improve digestion and bolster immunity) in the pineapple juice.
Verdict: A refreshing alternative to the sweet and creamy tropical cocktail. The coconut flavour really sings out. 5/5
LIVER-FRIENDLY G&T Gin with cucumber and mint, 118 calories
Gin with cucumber and mint, 118 calories
A low-calorie garden-party version of G&T.
Recipe: 25ml gin over ice with cucumber and mint-flavoured Whisp (£10 for four from whispdrinks.co.uk)
Health gains: Whisp is a low-calorie, flavoured fizzy water with four per cent alcohol (fermented malt) and milk thistle, known to help support liver function and tackle inflammation. In theory, this means it could stave off a hangover.
Verdict: Cucumber makes this a really summery drink. 5/5
ANTI-AGEING WHISKY: Whisky tea high ball, 95 calories
Whisky tea high ball, 95 calories
A long whisky cocktail with fizzy green tea.
Recipe: 25ml whisky, ice, and Two Keys green tea mixer (£2, Co-op)
Health gains: The Two Keys mixer (40 calories a bottle) is made from a blend of Japanese green teas, which contain bioactive compounds believed to protect the brain from ageing.
Verdict: A sophisticated, almost savoury mixer. 4/5