Whether it’s about fully eschewing alcohol, giving mindful drinking (?) a shot, or simply being sober-curious (even for a night), there’s no law stating an abstinent evening must be dry. The smartest restaurateurs and bartenders — who gladly cater for non-drinkers year round, not just faddy interlopers — realise this. So skip the self-flagellation, revel in the ease of reservations and dearth of queues at this time of year, and scope out the latest booze-free ales, kombuchas, hydrosols and their ilk currently being poured all over this city.Read More
The Best Places in London to Drink Alcohol-Free Right Now
Laying off the booze doesn’t have to mean staying dry
1. Leyton Technical Pub
Reportedly a favourite of Leyton-resident Grace Dent, this lovingly refurbished Town Hall houses a pub kitchen that turns out comforting, fuss-free, contemporary British cookery that’s loved by locals. While the local pub may not seem the safest bet for a teetotaling start to the year, Leyton Technical is pulling pints of the latest alcohol-free offerings from local independent brewery, Nirvana.
2. Little Duck - The Picklery
London E8 2BF, UK
The freshest of the Duck family (sibling to Ducksoup and Rawduck), The Picklery is a ‘fermenting kitchen and eatery’ awash with drinking vinegars, kombuchas and kefirs in all manner of guises. Sage and Mountain Tea Kombucha, may sound too right on (or just plain astringent) to be palatable, and yet, it’s not; it’s the just-right lovechild of longterm pickling obsessives who know how to tame their bacteria. The food menu is a tread too — serving up delights such as rabbit, trompette and cavolo nero pie, or braised lamb’s heart with mograbieh and chilli.
The bartenders at CUB religiously tend to their scobies to tailor intoxicant-free versions of every drink paired with every plate of the plant-led tasting menu on offer at Hoxton’s new hyper-sustainable spot. The result of the supergroup of Ryan Chetiyawardana (White Lyan, Super Lyan, Dandelyan), Doug McMaster (Silo Brighton) and Dr Arielle Johnson (ex-NOMA), every drop imbibed and morsel ingested will be as memorable it will be environmentally angelic.
4. SAGER + WILDE
Although no one quite knows what to make of the Bethnal Green extension of the wine specialist now its in its 4th(5th???) iteration, it can always be relied upon for a great value weeknight pasta and an innovative (and throughly enjoyable) selection of booze-less creations such as the Strawberry, a concoction of pink peppercorn hydrosol with strawberry shrub, verjus, and soda.
5. The Clove Club
The inimitable, much garlanded Clove Club is duly considerate of its alcohol-free patrons, offering both soft and ambient tea pairing to its set and tasting menus. There’s also a regularly-changing alcohol-free cocktail on offer at the bar, like The Woodland Wonder — a mix of Seedlip Spice 94, verjus, chestnut syrup and apple juice.
6. Berber & Q - Shawarma Bar
This month sees the dinkier of the Berber & Q duo host its annual series of guest chef collaborations. Each week, a chef is invited to create a special pita, beginning in week with Smokestak’s David Carter dishing up an aged gochujang pork belly, toasted sesame, cucumber, mint, and crackling pita, and culminating with a pita party in February. On the beverage side, alcohol-free needs are well catered to with the likes of the pomegranate spritzer, and they make a mean green chilli shrub too.
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7. Red Rooster Shoreditch
As in all else, Red Rooster have gone down the maximalist route with their alcohol-free options by way of a full sober menu section from Trash Tiki boasting drinks like Running Wild, made with Seedlip Garden and Monin Violette, and the Rooster Juice, a mix of cold brew tea, jerk syrup, and lemon — both of which will make fine partners to Marcus Samuelsson’s moreish take on southern comfort food.
There is no scenario that can’t be improved by a helping of the parmesan fries from the bar at Luca, and the umami treat pairs perfectly with a Pompelmo Spritz — an alcohol free riff on the classic aperitivo made with grapefruit juice, vintage Oxford marmalade, lemon and tonic. If feasting in the restaurant proper, switch pudding for a Secco Gennaio: espresso, amaretto syrup, egg.
9. Redemption Bar
Any establishment that sells itself as anyone’s saviour — let alone everyone’s — should usually be given an extremely wide berth, but seeing as Redemption’s entire raison d’etre is zero alcohol, they’ve managed to refine the offering, which includes the Activated Charcoal Martini — charcoal shaken with lemon and maple syrup, topped with aquafaba — and the Pious Piña Colada — a holier-than-thou riff on the tiki classic.
10. Seymour's Parlour
Bring a friend, bag a fireside table, order some courgette crisps and Montgomery’s biscuits (think cheese Oreos) and slip back into holiday mode for Seymour’s Parlour is about as cosy as London cocktail bars get. The Persian Merchant, their velvety, non-alcoholic marzipan and lemon-based concoction is (naturally) expertly calibrated.
The booze-free selection at Ottolenghi’s smartest space includes a mix of the zesty ginger, orange and lime zinger, comforting rhubarb and vanilla punch, and detox-friendly (ish) coconut, passionfruit & turmeric. Still, whatever the selection, they’re guaranteed to go down a treat whether it’s with charred Portuguese kale and galangal nam prik, or truffle polenta chips.
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12. The Mulwray
London W1D 6DJ, UK
The triple decker space from the Palomar contingent — strangely cute ground level pub, chic upstairs cocktail lounge, and downstairs dining counter — have enticing alcohol free choices such as Scottish brewery Innis & Gunn’s Innis & None, which is a full-flavoured ale that is actually brewed (but not fermented) rather than de-alcoholised, while on the (mildly) sour side, ‘The Tropics’, entails grapefruit, hibiscus cordial, lime and coconut milk.
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13. 34 Mayfair
Swerving wine for an entire month will likely save enough for at least one baller meal out so why not make for 34, splash out on the seafood starters, and tuck into a heritage British, USDA prime or Japanese Wagyu steak. Booze-free accompaniments from their ‘Luxury’ non-alcoholic list are tagged with suitably indulgent monikers: Land comprises black truffle, Kaliber, oak and lemon, while Desert Tea is an aromatic mix of Jasmine tea, rose petals, mint, lemon, and geranium essence.
14. American Bar
The ‘World’s Best Bar’ 2017, and London’s oldest, is an unfailingly classy choice for a pre-supper sojourn, and no less so when liquor is off the menu — not only do they have an alcohol-free option for every section of their dashing cocktail menu, they also serve Small Beer from an ex-Sipsmith duo obsessed with top tasting, low booze brewing. (NB. Small Beer is brewed at 0.5 to 2.8%, so one for the part-timers not the lifelong sober.)
15. W E S T Peckham
London SE15 4ST, UK
It might seem counterintuitive to hit up a space launched by two sommeliers when avoiding alcohol, however this ‘bar and conscious kitchen’ happens to pay serious attention to their homemade kombucha, and will soon be rolling out a selection of tonics (yes they have turmeric) and adaptogen lattes to trial alongside the likes of chorizo link, charred peppers, and umeboshi pumpkin salsa, or saghetti, squash, and ricotta tartine.
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16. Salon Brixton
The newly spruced up Market Row independent is set menu-only (four or seven courses) for dinner service, but if the likes of January King cabbage, clams, potato and ‘nduja followed by miso celeriac, turnip tops, pickled turnips and buckwheat sounds too much, they also had a bar installed a few months back where guests can pick at sharing plates and snacks while sipping their latest aquafaba-featuring cocktail like the hibiscus sour. And they have an off-menu stash of 0% beer to be poured if asked for nicely.
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