Young 20-somethings gathered around a trendy rooftop bar, the setting of the summer sun over London’s skyline, the drinks flowing and the atmosphere growing. It’s a scene that anyone in the capital will know all too well, the very picture of happy nights spent away from work and responsibility. Laughter and song will dominate the evening and many will let loose and finally have some well-earned fun. It will inevitably end at 1 or 2 am, and the hurried goodbyes will be exchanged as girls holding their heels in their hands scramble to make the night bus.
Take the alcohol out of that situation; does it still work? Well, increasing numbers of people are starting to think that it would. Many are coming to the end of their “dryathlon” this week, having gone dry for the entire month in order to raise money for Cancer Research. For some it’s a definite relief and come February they’ll be straight down their local. For others, however, it’s been an eye opening experience. We’re conditioned to associate alcohol with maturity and “grown up” fun from an early age, and with advertisements doing their best to reinforce this image, most people in the capital choose to drink socially on a regular basis.
A night free of alcohol, however, can be just as rewarding as one filled with drinking. For a start, you’ll actually remember it the next day. Now it might just be us, however when we have one of the nights of our lives, we sort of want to be able to actually recall it a few weeks later. It’s also a lot healthier for you in a variety of ways. Alcohol is an incredibly high source of calories, especially in mixed drinks or those sugary shots that students are so fond of.
One place that is embracing the pleasures of alcohol free drinks is Redemption, a hip bar located in West London. Initially starting in the ultra trendy Hackney, it was met with a surprisingly positive reply from locals. They were looking for something a little bit different, somewhere that they could use to have fun and socialize with delicious food and drinks. Its continued success after leaving the area, however, is what really emphasizes how common this desire for simple socializing is. Hackney’s hipster scene means that most eccentric things will do well there, for as long as the novelty lasts at least. However, as the months have gone by, people have been coming and coming.
It’s little coincidence that their focus on alcohol free beverages also comes with a great amount of flavor. The nuts, for example, are gorgeous almonds with a hint of spice and salt that makes them perfect bar food. Fresh curry, plantain pancakes and gorgeous nocellara olives all speak volumes about the owner’s philosophy and commitment to taste. That’s certainly something we can get on board with; after all, bar snacks are meant to be more than just salty side dishes that encourage you to drink more beer. They should provide a separate taste adventure for the evening too.
Redemption is far from the only place in the capital offering such a choice. The culture regarding alcohol and the public’s views on it are slowly and surely being changed. Soft drinks are beginning considered socially acceptable for everyone, rather than just the designated driver. Clubs and pubs are beginning to cater for these tastes with better products than just canned fizzy drinks and bottles of J2O. A benefit of the recent mixology craze is that many barmen are becoming more adventurous with both their stock ingredients and their flavors. Pretty soon we could be seeing the likes of rosemary lime coolers and abstinence on the beach hitting big chains and famous nightspots. There’s definitely a market for such products, and the capital is crying out for more alternatives to alcohol so watch this space.
Do you think alcohol is necessary for a good night out?