January is the month where we’re all bombarded with marketing messages around diets, ‘healthy’ meal replacement shakes and the dreaded phrase, ‘weight gain’. All these words just make us feel guilty about our indulgences over the festive period, fuelling January blues, and for some; it can trigger negative attitudes towards food. But we don’t believe in punishing or depriving ourselves – life is all about balance, right?
Over the past few years there’s been a growing number of people taking part in ‘Dry January’, abstaining from alcohol consumption (we’re only a little behind the Finns who have been doing ‘Sober January’ since the 1940s!). Linked to public health campaigns Dry January is all about getting people to discuss and be aware off the effects of drinking alcohol excessively. As a business that sells alcohol we are more aware than ever of the implications of too much ‘boozing’. We certainly understand that for some, a ‘Dry January’ is necessary to refresh and detox your body after a few too many beverages over the holidays.
No doubt you’ll have already read a host of news stories and blogs hitting home the health benefits of going alcohol free. However, we are of the mindset that reducing your drinking should be part of regular breaks (everything in moderation), not just one big one at the beginning of the year.
So, with two weeks gone since you put your wine and sherry out of sight (and out mind), rest assured, we have your back. There’s no need to look upon your non-participating friends with envy while they quaff their favourite Rioja, grazing on our award-winning patatas bravas. Our canny mixologists have created a new range of ‘Softails’ to help you get through the month (and beyond …remember what we said about moderation?) without feeling like you are missing out.
‘But they’re just full of sugar’, we hear you exclaim? Quite simply - no. Unlike traditional mocktails, we’re using natural ingredients to provide a source of natural rejuvenation, an energy kick, if you will. The trick with a softail is to create a point of challenge for the palate, using ingredients with a slight bitterness or astringency similar to that found in booze to curb your craving but leave you feeling refreshed. We’ve used modifiers such as tea, vinegar or citrus, alongside more classic and popular flavour combinations to create a selection of ‘grown up’ drinks that don’t taste like sugary pop. Yes, cocktail making really is a science.
What’s more, in true 44 Group style, what’s a little drink without a bit of food? We really don’t expect anyone to get through January without a little of something of what they fancy. You really shouldn’t put that pressure on yourself. So not only do we have our epic softails (recipes are below) but you can take advantage of our lighter lunches including seared Tuna, Savoy Cabbage a la plancha or Padron peppers without racking up the calories (a steal at just £8 for two plates) without undoing all your hard work.
Here’s what’s on our softail menu this month – we’ve included the recipes should you want to try your hand at mixing your own!
In a tall glass, add 5 basil leaves, 25ml passion fruit gomme, 80ml fresh orange juice & 25ml lemon juice. Add crushed ice and churn to mix and release flavour from the basil, top with more crushed ice and add a little soda to finish.
In a shaker add 1 teaspoon of blackberry preserve, 6 mint leaves, a teaspoon of balsamic/sherry vinegar, 60ml apple juice, 25ml lemon juice, 20ml cranberry juice and 2 teaspoons of agave nectar. Shake well and fine strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a fresh mint leaf.
In a shaker add 15ml apricot puree (or jam works well), 25ml lemon juice, 75ml chilled earl grey tea and 20ml orgeat (almond syrup). Shake well and strain over cubed ice in a tall glass. Garnish with fresh mint.
In a tall glass crush 1 strawberry & 2 raspberries, add 25ml elderflower cordial, 10ml lemon juice and 50ml of apple juice, add cubed ice and top with tonic water. Garnish with red berries.
In a shaker crush 2 strawberries with a few cracks of black pepper 1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar and 2 of caster sugar. Add 25ml lemon juice, 50ml cranberry juice. Shake well and strain over crushed ice in a low ball glass. Garnish with black pepper.
We look forward to serving you soon.