No one likes being “that girl”. No matter how good you’re trying to be, ordering a Diet Coke when all your friends are on the vino still makes you feel bad. But there’s an alcohol-free movement sweeping across London and with an influx of how-can-they-not-be-bad-for-you treats being added to cocktail lists, abstaining for a night no longer has to be so dry. Here’s our top picks of where to go when you need saving from your sins:
1. Redemption Bar, Notting Hill
It’s all in the name really. You can’t leave Notting Hill’s new booze-free hangout without feeling just a little bit lighter. And a lot more smug. But it’s not all lettuce leaves and wheatgrass shots (although admittedly there is a drink made from iceberg lettuce) – it’s more indulgent than your average vegan night out. As the founder Catherine Salway says, “It’s about spoiling yourself, without spoiling yourself”. And that you do. Sip on a Coco-rita (coconut water shaken over ice with lime and agave syrup, served in a salt-rimmed glass) and we wouldn’t blame you for thinking you were drinking the real deal. And this ain’t no fad thing either: the drinks are undeniably refreshing and you certainly don’t need to be a kale connoisseur to appreciate them.
The food is unsurprisingly healthy – but not so raw that you feel like a cow digesting four stomachs’ worth of grass (it’s that fibre effect). The real show stealers though are the desserts. The elderflower and gooseberry fool comes with a little lavender gluten-free shortbread: the fact that this creamy goodness is dairy-free is quite frankly, mind boggling. Order another round of cocktails and you’ll really feel like you’ve indulged. And the best part? No office hangover. We told you you’d feel smug.
6 Chepstow Road
2. Dishoom, Shoreditch
If you’re after an alcohol-free night then head to the Permit Room in the Shoreditch branch of Dishoom. Alongside Bombay cafe snacks and excellent Indian cooking they’ve also got a list dedicated to non-alcoholic beverages and these mocktails are as masterful as their boozy counterparts. Try the Virgin Bombay Colada – pineapple and coconut-cream shaken with a little coriander, chai syrup, lime juice – if you really feel like treating yourself. The extensive list of innovative lassis are also an excellent cooling accompaniment to the more fiery dishes.
7 Boundary Street
3. Mark’s Bar at Hix, Soho
We had to give Mark’s Bar a mention, if only for the sheer wittiness of its menu. The non-alcoholic cocktails are listed “in sympathy to the drivers, the impending mothers, those who have consumed too much, those that are not yet able to consume and finally to those whose religion, culture, or mother forbids them to imbibe”. The Lost Valentino – lemon sherbet with chilled green tea, smacked mint, a touch of orange and spiced with nutmeg – mixes childish experimentalism with a more mature hit of spices. You really don’t have to be expecting to appreciate this one.
66-70 Brewer Street