Entertaining | What food to pair with alcohol-free cocktails


What food to pair with alcohol-free cocktails

Advertising feature: If you or members of your family or friends don’t drink how does that affect the kind of food you serve at holiday get-togethers and parties? The answer, happily, is not at all if you opt for high quality alcohol-free spirits.

Abstinence’s award-winning range of gin-like spirits (which have won gold and silver medals at this year’s San Francisco World Spirits Competition and UK Spirits Business Low and No Masters awards) are among the best I’ve tasted. They come from South Africa and are infused with different Cape botanicals to give each a distinctive character - without any added sugar, artificial sweeteners or colourants. You simply add tonic and an appropriate garnish and serve

They asked me to work with them to come up with the ideal food pairing for each product (which you can order through Amazon in the UK) and, believe me, I had fun with it! Why don’t you give them a try?

Abstinence Cape Citrus and fish tacos

Cape Citrus

The Western Cape is one of the world’s largest exporters of citrus fruits which make their appearance in this deliciously citrussy non-alcoholic spirit


Orange, Lemon, Grapefruit, Buchu, Cassia, Pepper, Fennel, Ginger.

Serve with: premium tonic water, a grapefruit slice and fresh rosemary

Food pairing suggestions

The citrussy notes of this refreshing drink make it ideal for salads and seafood dishes, especially shellfish like prawns and crab

Think light fish patés, smoked salmon, prawn or crayfish cocktail and tuna salads

Crisp-fried goujons (or even fish and chips)

In terms of cuisines Cape Citrus would be a natural match for Mexican-inspired food like fish tacos and guacamole (and who doesn’t like those?)

The herbal notes will also chime in well with dishes that include dill and coriander and with yoghurt and herb-based dips. Or try it with summery veggie dishes like feta and courgettes.

Oh and it’s really good with garlic! Try it with garlicky chicken or chicken substitutes like a chicken or garlic kiev. Or just with some freshly baked garlic bread.

Awards: UK Spirits Business Low and No Masters 2021: Gold, San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2021: Double Gold

Available from Amazon UK

Cape Spice and satay

Cape Spice

As the name suggests this is all about the warm spices you find in southern African cuisine which reflect the country’s Dutch, Indian and Portuguese heritage.

Botanicals: Allspice, Cassia, Cardamom, Coriander, Clove, Orange Peel, Honeybush.

Serve with: premium tonic water, orange twist and fresh thyme

Food pairing suggestions

The spice in the name is the key for this does indeed go with spicy food - and has spices of its own in the way of cardamom, coriander and Christmassy cloves. You can pair it with such different dishes as chicken (or tofu) satay and kimchi but it also makes a great drink to pour at a barbecue (it’s ace with pulled pork for a start). You could also drink it with tapas: it’s ideal with chorizo or any peppery sausage come to that or try it with a selection of Indian street food-style snacks like bhajis, samosas and pakoras.

Awards: UK Spirits Business Low and No Masters 2021: Gold

Available from: Amazon UK

Cape Fynbos and labneh

Cape Fynbos

South Africa has one of the most diverse plant kingdoms in the world, referred to locally as fynbos. The Cape Fynbos draws its inspiration from that, most particularly the indigenous Cape Rose Geranium.

Botanicals Rose Geranium, Juniper, Angelica Root, Coriander, Lemon

Serve with: premium tonic water, lemon peel and fresh berries

Food pairing suggestions: There’s an exotic floral aroma to this alcohol-free spirit. In some ways it’s quite delicate - it’s delicious with a creamy brie, labneh or other soft cheeses - but it would also work well with middle-eastern and Persian dishes (think of the rose-petals in those cuisines) so pair it with mezze and other subtly spiced dishes

And although it’s dry you could also drink it with sweet things like macarons and meringues or a fresh berry-topped New York-style cheesecake. and - a big hit this - white chocolate with crunchy raspberry brittle

Awards: UK Spirits Business Low and No Masters 2021: Silver

Available from: Amazon UK

Epilogue X and chocolate pretzels

Epilogue X

A smoky, after dinner non-alcoholic spirit, perfect for late night drinking

Botanicals: Smoked, Peated and Blended Malts, Oak, Honeybush, Vanilla, Cassia, Cardamom, Clove, Helichrysum Petiolare (Impepho)

Serve with: Add some ice and top with soda or mix with ginger ale and a squeeze of lime. If you fancy something sweeter, it works a treat when mixed with Coca-Cola. If you are really trying to impress, it is perfect for a non-alcoholic Old Fashioned.

Food pairing suggestions: There’s one ingredient which stands out with this dark caramelly spirit and it’s perfectly suited to its role as an after dinner drink - and that’s chocolate. Milk chocolate, dark chocolate, chocolate and caramel wafers (those of you who are Tunnock’s fans are going to be very happy), chocolate-covered pretzels - they’re all good. Given the fact it also works well with ginger as a mixer try ginger biscuits too. Those crisp, thin little ginger biscuits would be perfect. Or homemade brandysnaps.

Available from: Amazon UK

Blood orange aperitif and arancini

Blood orange aperitif

A classic, sophisticated Italian style aperitif made with African wormwood

Botanicals: African wormwood Cinchona Bark, All Spice, Clove, Blood Orange, Spice Distillate

How to serve: With soda water and an orange twist or make an AF version of an Aperol spritz by mixing it with a non-alcoholic sparkling wine and soda. (I like it with a light tonic too FB)

Food pairing suggestions: Transport yourself to a Venetian bacaro with this classic Italian style aperitivo which will go with all those delectable cichetti they have on the counter in the city’s bars. Little sandwiches, big fat green olives, arancini (risotto balls), grissini with parma ham - you can recreate it all at home. Or just pour yourself one while you wait for your Friday night pizza to arrive (It’s actually pretty good with pizza too)

Awards: UK Spirits Business Low and No Masters 2021: Gold, San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2021: Silver

Available from: Amazon UK

This feature is part of a paid collaboration with Curated Beverages

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