A new study suggests a dry January can be a waste of time as even the best plans fall by the wayside.
But is there a smarter way to reduce those 7pm G&Ts as we sail into February?
Yes, help is at hand – in the form of a new trend for “quarter strength” alcohol that’s taking the beverage industry (and soon, your drink cabinet) by storm.
You don’t have to do without anything, nor do you have to exchange your favorite drink for a tasteless and non-alcoholic alternative.
Instead, choose a spirit with a fraction of the ABV (alcohol by volume) of your regular drink — and the makers swear you won’t be able to tell the difference.
A new study suggests a dry January can be a waste of time as even the best plans fall by the wayside. Stock image used
British brand Quarter says the aim is to give drinkers “the rush and warmth of alcohol”. . . rather than a heavily diluted version’.
Unlike soft drinks (which, by definition, cannot exceed 0.5 per mil ABV) and low-alcohol drinks (maximum 1.2 per mil ABV), one-fourth alcohol is produced in the same way as regular reduced-alcohol spirits, during distillation, so that You can drink three, four or even more liters before consuming as much alcohol as a traditional drink.
Oh, and they’re a lot lower in calories, too.
Experts say this brand new market is booming and could be worth £400million by the end of next year.
There is something for everyone – from “light” vodka to 10% rum. We put the best to the test. . .
Quarter Proof G/N (£26.99, Whole Foods Market)
GORGEOUS NOT-QUITE GIN Quarter Proof G/N (£26.99, Whole Foods Market)
STRENGTH: 12 pc ABV, so you would need four of these to match a regular strength gin (between 37.5 pc and 57 pc).
Heralded as “the world’s first quarter strength g/n” (they can’t call it “gin” because the legal definition requires gin to be 37.5 percent ABV), Quarter 2021 was launched in London.
It’s the drink of choice for trendy millennials and is housed in Soho Works, members’ club Soho House’s chi-chi networking space.
The branding is sophisticated, with the tagline: “Quarter Strength. Endless possibilities.’
TASTE TEST: Made from a blend of botanicals such as juniper, coriander, orange and grapefruit peel, the initial taste – I try it neat and then with tonic – is citrusy and refreshing.
The juniper imparts a distinctive, woody flavor but I don’t get that sour feeling in my throat like I would with regular gin.
It’s deliciously drinkable. Pour me another one. 5/5
SHIVERY VODKA Pure Lite Vodka (£30, pure-vodka.co.uk)
STRENGTH: 20pc ABV. Vodka varies widely in alcohol content – from 40 percent to a whopping 88 percent.
Vegan, gluten-free, low in calories (it only has 29 calories per serving) and made from organic wheat, this is the healthiest vodka around. The branding — which is all black on a clear, slim-line bottle — appears designed to attract male drinkers.
TASTE TEST: I’m not a vodka fan – it reminds me too much of bad noughties nightclubs – so I approach cautiously. Notes of citrus and flowers are said to be there, and it smells perfumed, but I can’t taste much at all.
In a cocktail I see the appeal: a little high without bitterness. My teenage self could have used a bottle. 3/5
Cut Classic Premium Light Spirit Drink with Aged Caribbean Rum (£28, cut-classics.com)
Portobello Road Temperance Spirit (£23, portobelloroadgin.com)
SMOOTH SMOKY RUM Cut Classic Premium Light Spirit Drink made from aged Caribbean rum (£28, cut-classics.com)
STRENGTH: 20pc ABV. Regular rum has between 40 and 75.5 percent ABV, which is two to four measures that.
Founded during lockdown by husband and wife team Atlanta and Anthony O’Connor, Cut Classics is based in Monmouth, Wales and makes lighter versions of rum, gin and vodka.
Their goal, they say, is to make “grown-up, hangover-free drinks.”
Elegant branding makes this rum – which also has half the calories (only 28) of the regular spirit – look premium.
TASTE TEST: Spicy and exotic, it smells like a traditional Caribbean rum.
There’s a smoky aftertaste, but it’s smoother and less fiery than regular rum.
It seems like a waste to add coke or ginger beer; I prefer it plain with ice. Warm and soft. 5/5
LACKING SPIRIT Portobello Road Temperance Spirit (£23, portobelloroadgin.com)
STRENGTH: 4.2pc ABV. You could drink nine of these (not recommended!) and still have less alcohol than a regular G&T.
Crafted by London-based Portobello Road Gin Distillery from English wheat, this uses the same botanical flavors as the distillery’s classic spirit.
TASTE TEST: Company co-founder Jake Burger insists it has an “unmistakably Ginny flavor,” but to me the smell is disappointingly bland.
My first sip is better – I taste cinnamon, lemons and some peppery notes – but unfortunately it fades within seconds.
Mixed with a nice tonic I would drink this but it’s a bit weak in flavor and alcohol. Demanding, but not strong enough. 2/5
Mary Low-Alcohol Botanical Blend (£12, allthingsdrinks.co.uk)
HERBY AND FRESH Mary Botanical Low Alcohol Blend (£12, allthingsdrinks.co.uk)
STRENGTH: 6 pieces ABV. Six of them correspond to a classic gin.
Mary is unique in that it doesn’t market itself as a gin, vodka or rum, but simply as a ‘botanical blend’.
Made with seven botanicals, including thyme, sage, juniper, pine, coriander, and angelica root, and blended with a “slight touch of alcohol” from grains, it’s only nine calories per infusion.
TASTE TEST: It’s green, not clear, which is a bit off-putting. It reminds me of a healthy smoothie, but poured over ice, with a squeeze of lemon and a decent tonic, it’s incredibly good. The taste is earthy and spicy, with a lingering aroma of fresh herbs. Refreshing, sparkling and delicious. 5/5
YUMMY TOFFEE RUM Decem Spiced Blend of Caribbean Rum (£29.50, decemdrinks.com)
STRENGTH: 10 pieces ABV. Four to seven degrees would make a normal drink. West Yorkshire-based Decem offers three-quarter strength alcoholic beverages: this spiced rum mix, a gin-like drink and a berry-packed aperitif, all at 10% ABV.
“It means you can have all the fun and none of the downside,” says founder (and former MasterChef finalist) Billy Wright.
TASTE TEST: Rich in honey and spices, the smell is delicious and I can’t wait to take a sip.
It has hints of sweet toffee and pineapple, but also tastes smoky and earthy, like the real deal.
I could drink it neat, but it also tastes great with ginger beer. Very convincing, just a little bit sweet. 4/5
BIT LIKE TART LEMONADE Perthyn Low Alcohol Spirit (£21.95, cardiffdistillery.co.uk)
STRENGTH: 10 pc ABV – drinking four is the same as a regular gin.
Founded by four former Welsh rugby players, this low-alcohol spirit was launched last February.
Perthyn means ‘belonging’ in Welsh and the branding focuses on the players’ fond memories of their sporting career – including winning the Grand Slam in the Six Nations together.
TASTE TEST: Made from 12 botanicals, all sourced from Cardiff, Perthyn is described as ‘savory’, with notes of citrus, cardamom and thyme.
The cardamom gives a pleasant spiciness – but the citrus is too spicy for me, reminiscent of tart lemonade.
A beautiful story – but the spirit disappoints. 3/5