‘Drinking less is easy – I really believe that people can do this’

Fiona Beckett’s new book focuses on pairing delicious food with non-alcoholic beverages

Fiona Beckett is well-known to wine, beer and spirit drinkers for her column in the Guardian newspaper as well as for her website Matching Food & Wine. She doesn't drink alcohol all the time, and so decided to write a book featuring non-alcoholic drinks; juices, cordials, smoothies, cocktails, teas, tisanes and fermented drinks.

How to Drink Without Drinking (Kyle Books, £15.99) “was driven by my own need for something interesting and dry and non-alcoholic,” she said. “Drinking less is easy – I really believe that people can do this. It’s a bit like eating less meat even if you aren’t vegetarian.

“Doing without alcohol is deciding you would like to drink slightly less and find tasty alternatives. I don’t have specific days, but I try to have a couple of days off every week. Quite often it is Monday and Tuesday, but it can be other days. If I am at home I might have just one glass of wine rather than several. “It’s important to see alcohol-free days as an opportunity, not a deprivation.”

“If you enjoy cooking and like using seasonal ingredients, this is just an extension of that,” she says.


Her drinks recipes include kaffir lime mojitos, lychee martinis, NG&T, rhubarb cordial and turmeric latte. “The key is to serve them it with a bit of ceremony – in nice glasses with ice, slices of fruit, and use good tonic and other ingredients,” she says.


Serves 2
Switchel is a shrub of Caribbean origin (also known as haymaker's punch), that found its way to rural America, where it was drunk by the workers in the fields. Adjust the quantities to your own taste.

1-2 tsp (5–10g) grated fresh ginger
3 tbsp raw cider vinegar
2-3 tbsp maple syrup or raw honey
1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice
400ml still or sparkling water, plus extra to dilute

Put everything in a sterilised, wide-necked bottle or jar and seal. Give it a shake, taste, adjust the sweetness, then refrigerate for 24 hours. Strain through a fine sieve, pour into glasses, and top with extra still or sparkling water, to taste.