Drink and drive
Made it through dry Jan and want to carry on?. Or failed miserably (c'est moi) and thinking to go again for Feb? Try these 9 brilliant bars near you for marvellous mocktails.
Even for the hardiest of boozehounds, these days a night off the sauce is pretty standard. Whether you’re feeling inspired by your Dry January success and want to continue the trend(seriously well done, I buckled after 5 days), you’re the designated driver or you’re just not in the mood for a two-day hangover, check out these brilliant local hangouts for a booze-free bender.
Not only was Raoul’s voted one of the 50 best bars in the country by The Sunday Times, it’s a favourite hangout of Team Muddy (arguably the more prestigious accolade – what we don’t know about cocktails isn’t worth knowing!). Expect a cocktail list as long as your arm here, with a whole chunk dedicated to mocktails that are far more inventive than your standard soda-water-with-lime offering (we have our eye on the Milk and Cookies). Add that to the chic decor, brilliant Jericho location and dance space downstairs, and we’d happily while away an evening here, with or without booze.
This central hotspot in Chippy is well-known locally for its eclectic mix of cocktails and, luckily for those not indulging, many come with virgin options (15, at our last count), so you’re not going to feel like the odd one out if your drinking buddies are on the sauce. If there’s a group of you not drinking, there’s even the option for pitchers of mocktails to serve four. Best of all, there’s a kitchen serving everything from bar snacks to full English breakfasts as well as pub classics, so you can always turn your drinks into a dinner date.
It’s easy to miss The House, squirrelled away down Blue Boar Street near to Christchurch College – but once you know the entrance, it’s impossible to pass up popping in for a quick sip. It’s a buzzy little venue with a games room (that you can hire out, FYI) and an outdoor terrace that you can enjoy when the weather isn’t quite so dire (a single week in June, then), but it’s the cocktails that you’ll want to visit for. The mocktail selection here is fun and inventive, so you’re sure to find something to whet your whistle. We’re grabbing a Cotswold Detox, which is cranberry and apple juice shaken with fresh rosemary, thyme syrup and lime.
If you’d rather drink a pint than a pina colada, then we recommend dropping into BrewDog on Cowley Road for a booze-free beer. Everyone’s favourite ‘punk’ craft beer brand has been pushing the boat out for Dry January, including introducing plenty of new alcohol-free bottles and draft brews at their locations, and even a completely dry bar in London’s Old Street, so you’ll have low ABV options literally on tap. If you’re being doubly good and also cutting back on meat as well as alcohol, BrewDog has joined forced with vegan fried chicken kings Temple of Seitan for a plant-based section of the menu. Bar snacks without the guilt? Sign us up.
No cocktail roundup would be complete without The Crazy Bear – where else can you sip your drink on a velvet clawfoot sofa under the watchful eye of a faux stuffed zebra or giraffe? Best of all, it has a great selection of mouthwatering mocktails that’ll make you forget all about its alcoholic alternatives – the Thai-inspired tipples (including Thai Ginger Limeade and Jasmine Tea Mojito) sound particularly delicious. It’s a slightly bonkers/luxe hangout with prices to match, a proper treat.
The Chequers is one of our go-tos after a hard day of retail therapy in Marlow – not least because they serve up a cracking steak to go alongside their extensive drinks list. They offer a pleasantly surprising number of low-and-no options for booze avoiders. As well as a couple of sophisticated mocktails (Sherbet Fizz will do the trick, thanks) and non-alcoholic spirits with tonics, there are also four non-alcoholic beer and cider options – ideal for pairing with a wagyu burger.
If you haven’t had a chance to get to The Apple Tree this month, then hot foot it over ASAP – they’re tackling Dry January, Veganuary and healthy eating all in one with a generous sprinkling of new menus and drinks. Non-drinkers can pick from their new Twisted Tonics (only 40 calories a bottle, apparently), neat or mixed with alcohol-free gin Seedlip Grove 42, or nurse a posh lime and soda with fresh mint and sour lime. The vibe is family-friendly, and the menu is such an eclectic mix of cuisines that you’ll want to keep coming back to try it all.
The mixology maestros at The Botanist in Marlow are always cooking up imaginative new tinctures so really it should be no surprise that they offer some solid alcohol-free options. As well as eight beers clocking in at under 3% ABV, they offer non-alcoholic versions of some of their signature cocktails that’ll take care of any boozy hankerings you might have. Combine with a mix and match deli boards (wedge of garlic bread definitely not optional) and live music every Wednesday to Sunday and you have a fabulous evening in the works.
You’d be forgiven for never having heard of MK’s newest kid on the block Blossom Room, as it only popped up at the end of last year, but it’s already looking like a primo spot for drinks and nibbles whether or not you’re getting sozzled or staying saintly. Firstly, that incredible blossom tree ceiling is enough of a draw to get you through the door, and then the huge cocktail list will keep you barside. We’re intrigued by the Non-Cosmopolitan – any classic made with non-alcoholic vodka is worth investigating. An ideal after-theatre spot if you’re playing designated driver.