ALEXANDRA SHULMAN’S NOTEBOOK: Alcohol-free gin? It just doesn’t give me that buzz
Alcohol-free alternatives look like alcohol, their names sound like alcohol but they don’t give you that lovely fuzzy buzz of the first glass of Gavi, writes ALEXANDRA SHULMAN (pictured)
It’s not often that I’m on the same page as the Chancellor of the Exchequer. But on the subject of lower-alcohol drinks, Rishi and I are as one.
I drink alcohol because I like the feeling I get from it. That slight blurring of life’s worries is a heavenly lift.
But I don’t like to be drunk or unhealthy.
So although my alcohol consumption does not cause me problems, all the evidence is that I should try to cut back.
Hopefully Rishi’s Budget tweaks – increasing tax on drinks above 12 per cent ABV (alcohol by volume) and cutting it on those below that level – will help.
I’ve always drunk a fair bit. Some would say a lot, others would call it a normal amount. Every evening I drink a few glasses of wine or vodka.
On holidays and sometimes on weekends (and very occasionally on weekdays) I will also drink a couple of glasses at lunch.
The best part of a bottle of rosé is no problem for me – often with the hangover to go with it. (By the way, all those saying rosé would be low-tax have obviously never drunk the heavenly Whispering Angel or Brad Pitt’s equally fine Miraval which both measure a tax-hiking 13 per cent ABV.)
On the lower-alcohol wine front, I’m forever squinting at ABV levels on bottles in Majestic where there’s a case of Kent red at a paltry ten per cent waiting to be opened, which is practically Ribena for a red wine.
There are a number of alcohol-free alternatives available today, from a gin that isn’t gin but a ‘botanical’, a cocktail aperitif called Sprigster and Wilfred’s, a spicy golden liquid
I know it’s unlikely that one or two per cent less ABV really makes much of a difference on the health front – it just might slow down the moment when you start to slur your words.
But, like rinsing out plastic bottles before recycling, it makes me feel I’m doing my bit. Low alcohol is one thing but no alcohol quite another.
Over the past few weeks our gin, vodka and tequila bottles have begun sharing space with an array of new non-alcoholic ‘liquors’.
There’s a gin that isn’t gin but a ‘botanical’, a cocktail aperitif called Sprigster which tastes like the kitchen garden it comes from, and Wilfred’s, a spicy golden liquid that tastes like a Christmas potpourri.
I’ve tried slicing lemons and limes into them, adding mint and tonic water, pouring them short and long, but as much as I will myself to think they are acceptable substitutes to a G&T or a nice glass of Gavi di Gavi, I might as well be drinking Coca-Cola or lemonade.
Sure, they look like alcohol, their names sound like alcohol, and if you have a rotten sense of smell like me, they could be thought to smell like alcohol.
But they don’t give you that lovely fuzzy buzz of the first glass of Gavi. And bottom line, there’s the rub.
Although Downing Street is not known as a target fashion demographic, Rishi Sunak is the perfect men’s style influencer
Interest soars in sliderman Rishi
SPEAKING of Rishi, I suspect that Palm Angels – an Italian brand with a heavy metal Goth logo – hadn’t put the Chancellor on their list of must-get celebrity influencers.
But their leather sliders, which he wore in posed pre-Budget photos, have gained the brand hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of free publicity.
Palm Angels also stock the kind of expensive ‘athleisure’ wear he and Mrs Sunak enjoy – their camo track jacket comes in at £410, placing it a reassuring distance from a bog-standard top from JD Sports.
Although Downing Street is not known as a target fashion demographic, Rishi is the perfect men’s style influencer.
Nothing pale and stale about him – he’s zinging with money, power and relative youth but relatable, not posh.
Yes, for work he’s usually dressed in a slim cut, slightly spivvy, faintly shiny suit, but his wrists are covered in the kind of ethnic bracelets that gap-year kids wear, but also Jeremy Clarkson. So all bases covered.
His Bambi eyes mask his relentless ambition and he knows the value of a dog in a photo op.
My personal feeling is that Nova, the Labrador lolling by his side, ameliorated the potential harm of being seen in sliders with white socks.
Men are often suspicious of other men who appear to be too perfect or too cool. But Rishi seems to be dodging that bullet by being a little on the small side (are we allowed to say that or am I treading into Tilly Ramsay waters?) and admitting to a Twix habit and a fondness for Mariah Carey.
Leaky loo brings Nasa down to earth
Is there nowhere in the universe free from plumbing problems? It’s scarcely bearable that Nasa’s Space X capsule is suffering a leaking loo issue. Space travel is meant to be the glorious new frontier. Outer space is – literally – out of this world. It’s not meant to stink like a graffiti-plastered, urine-spattered concrete underpass…
Last week, the Duchess of Cornwall made a powerful speech on the subject of domestic violence
Globetrotting’s great – just not for my son
I’ve just waved my son off for a work trip to New York. It’s wonderful that the world is opening up again for us all and especially for young people starting their careers. At least that’s what I think about everyone else’s children. When it comes to my own, I would far rather have him just round the block. Much less worry.
So ashamed of my spineless university
As an alumnus of Sussex University, I am horrified to learn that the hugely respected Professor Kathleen Stock has been hounded out of her position there for her views on trans rights.
And I’m ashamed that my university should ultimately have been so unsupportive, allowing a valued philosophy academic to be so tormented that she had no option but to pack up and go.
Committed Camilla shows she’s ready
Last week, the Duchess of Cornwall made a powerful speech on the subject of domestic violence at a Women Of The World event, celebrated her Reading Room initiative along with Charles Dance, Dame Judi Dench and Sir Tom Stoppard, and launched this year’s British Legion Poppy Appeal.
I’ve heard her speak on several occasions and she always sounds committed and knowledgeable.
It’s some reassurance then that, as the Queen reins back on appearances, we have a good woman stepping up to the plate.