How was Dry January for you? For me, it was unfortunately more of a Dry Gin-uary.
As an international student living in the UK for the first time, I never knew of the term Dry January before this – mainly because Christmas in my home country isn’t exactly the most festive, especially not when it’s a scorching 30°C outside. However, over the winter semester I’ve learnt to fully embrace the festive season in the UK as it is – the untimely snowfalls, the overpriced market food, and the one-too-many festive shots of liquid courage to power you through the endless Christmas and New Year gatherings.
Since the winter break here is quite lengthy, I’m sure many of us (myself included) spent most of it in a cycle of festive drinking, partying, and sobering up in hopes of terminating the cycle – before mindlessly starting it again. But fret not – I’ve shortlisted a few non-alcoholic beverages that are worth a try if you’re looking to lay off the booze!
1. Mogu Mogu:
Stepping into the Oriental Mart to grab a quick drink from the fridge? You’ll most likely be greeted by an intimidatingly extensive array of Mogu Mogus staring back at you. Mogu Mogu, meaning ‘to chew’ in Japanese, is a fruity flavoured juice drink with a catch – they require a bit of chewing from the nata de coco bits hidden inside. I’m typically not a big fan of coloured drinks, especially those with artificial colouring, but these are among the few exceptions that dispute my aversion toward coloured drinks – yes, it’s that addictive! Accessing these drinks may not be the most convenient, as I have only seen them in Oriental/Asian marts so far, but the surprisingly refreshing taste of most flavours (I’ve not completed my quest to try them all) complemented by the fragrant coconut jelly elevate the fun of the drinking experience if you enjoy a good chew.
Upside: There are 15 flavours to it, so you’ll never run out of options!
Downside: The price is on the higher side for a relatively small bottle, but it makes for an occasional decadent treat!
these are among the few exceptions that dispute my aversion toward coloured drinks – yes, it’s that addictive
2. Vitamin Water
Looking for a feel-good drink which can also be a healthier alternative? Well, now you can have the best of both worlds. In the interest of incorporating healthier habits into my lifestyle, I mindlessly picked up a bottle of VitHit vitamin water one day and was blown away by how good these bottles of ‘water’ tasted. The Get More Vits range is also clear in colour, resembling regular water despite packing a punch of flavour, which was so mind-boggling to me when I first tried it. I’m glad I stumbled upon them, because they are so easily accessible and have now become my go-to drink for long days at uni! My personal favourites are the VitHit Perform and the Get More Vits Mango & Passionfruit, I love how its taste resembles a juice while keeping you hydrated and vitamin-boosted without spiking your sugar levels – a fun way to keep your water intake up if you’re struggling to drink enough water like me!
3. Marks and Spencer’s Iced Coffee Latte
I’m no coffee drinker, but I remember stumbling upon a TikTok promoting M&S’s iced coffee as a cheaper alternative to takeaway coffee, sold at £1.35 per litre and reportedly tasting on par with café-brewed coffee. Naturally, I was curious about it despite knowing that I wouldn’t be the best judge of good coffee. So, I got two of my coffeeholic friends to try it out and they agreed that it was of good value, the only downsides were that it was on the sweeter side and had an overall milder coffee taste compared to machine-brewed coffee. As someone with a sweet tooth, I found the level of sweetness to be optimal and the coffee taste not too overbearing, which made it dangerously easy to down. However, it does seem to be gaining traction on social media and flying off the shelves in stores, so the general advice is to snag them when you see them!
*Approved by two coffee enthusiasts and a lactose-intolerant non-coffee enthusiast.
I mindlessly picked up a bottle of VitHit vitamin water one day and was blown away by how good these bottles of ‘water’ tasted
4. Peroni Nastro Azzurro 0.0%
Craving a drink but still want to maintain your sobriety? The new Peroni Nastro Azzurro 0.0% is a great option for an alcohol-free beer! Brewed with the same Nostrano dell’Isola maize as its original version, it boasts the same rich and intense flavour, topped off with an exquisite fruity aroma. I personally tried a bottle of it over the holidays and could not tell the difference between the alcohol-free and alcoholic Peroni at all!
5. Portland Coffee’s Chai Latte with Cinnamon & Soy Milk
Last but not least, a hidden gem on our home ground itself, Portland Coffee’s chai latte with cinnamon and soy milk! Honestly, this order was created from a combination of me feeling flustered, pressured, and panic ordering at the counter during rush hour. I usually prefer oat or almond milk in my drinks, but despite accidentally opting for soy, it turned out to be quite a pleasant surprise. Although the hint of chai was quite subtle and the drink had an overall sweetness to it, the milk and spices blended harmoniously, and the added cinnamon definitely brought out a more pronounced spice profile. I would highly recommend this as a comfort drink on a cold, rainy day!
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