Dry January? Not so fast…

At this time of the year, it’s almost a given that we’ve over-indulged recently and thoughts turn to turning our New Year resolutions into reality. For many of us that will mean gym memberships, cutting down on meals out or one of the drinks industry’s biggest foes, the Dry January.

A lot of charities have Dry January initiatives that focus on abstinence and according to a Neilsen survey, 75% of consumers agree with the statement ‘I am what I eat’, with nearly 80% of interviewees claiming to be actively using foods and drinks to prevent health issues. Time and time again we hear that millennials are unlike any other generation and this applies to alcohol also. Three in four actively limit their alcohol intake on nights out and one in five do not drink at all.

With that in mind, step forward ‘NOLO’ and ‘shim’ drinks. NOLO stands for no or low alcohol. Shim drinks was a term coined by US-based author Dinah Sanders, who runs a cocktail blog, Bibulous. Both terms involve cutting down on the ABV (alcohol by volume) of a drink.

How does this translate to what you’ll drink at home or down the pub? Replacing spirits for lower-ABV products such as vermouths, fortified wines or liqueurs is a good way to start. In fact, you have actually been drinking shims for years but didn’t realise it. Pimm’s and lemonade anyone? Wine spritzer?

10 Dollar Shake was recently appointed joint contract caterers, alongside Melt and Salt & Sauce, for the Innovation Hub at the new Oil & Gas Technology Centre on Queen’s Road. A huge part of our drinks programme revolves around NOLO drinks, given that a large number of events take place during the morning or afternoon. As a result, we have been creating a drinks list with experimental ingredients such as matcha tea, chia seeds and kombucha, both inspiring our guests to try something different, as well as being mindful of the health benefits involved.

In days gone by, the sensible among us might have a ‘chaser and a spacer’, an alcoholic drink, followed by something soft or even water. That’s a good way to cut down the average ABV across your drinks, however with shims you pace yourself without needing to revert to something extra sugary or just water. Most good cocktail bars will serve you water as standard these days. It’s a rehydration strategy to ensure we don’t end up with boozed-up guests who might end up being loud and obnoxious or worse, wander the room imposing themselves on other guests. Plus, the cocktail itself is not always designed to refresh your palate (especially the stirred ones such as the Old Fashioned or Manhattan), hence the water acts as a complimentary livener to be sipped alongside your chosen libation.

In any of the more dedicated cocktails bars in Aberdeen your bartender will have an arsenal of bottles on the back bar or in fridges to turn to should you decide that your Dry January will instead be a Shim January. Other than utilising lower-ABV ingredients, the taste profiles of your shim drinks need not differ greatly from your favourite spirit-based cocktails. You can still enjoy sour, bitter, sweet or savoury drinks. Moderation is key, but remember how many times we’ve heard that a glass of red wine is good for the heart, or a hot toddy soothes a cold? Keep it shim this January and don’t forget to use your new gym membership!