Low ABV drinking: two or three dashes make all the difference

House of Angostura ambassador, Daniel Gregory.

In the Threeway each month, we take one bottle of booze — sometimes a category of booze — and offer up three ways of mixing with said bottle. The drinks may change, but there’s always one thing that remains constant: the aforementioned booze.

Well, this month we’re doing it a touch differently. There’s alcohol in the three drinks we’ve got here, but we’re talking dashes instead of a proper dousing of the stuff.

And we’re doing this because low and no ABV drinks have come into vogue; even the unreformed dinosaurs amongst us will acknowledge that it helps to have options for guests who want flavour in their drinks, but not the alcohol. It is an inescapable trend.

“I’ve seen a huge increase in requests for low-ABV and non-alcoholic drinks in the venues I work with,” says 2017 Bartender of the Year and House of Angostura ambassador, Daniel Gregory. “People want low sugar, low calorie, refreshing non-alcoholic options when they go out. I think where bartenders go wrong is in assuming that you have to replace alcohol with high sugar fruit juices and sodas.

“It’s not hard to make a cocktail that’s better for you if you look at natural botanicals and fresh ingredients.”

With that in mind, we’ve got three recipes from Gregory here. They show that you don’t have to sacrifice flavour and complexity just because there’s no punchy booze in the mix; with a little technique, you can create something that’s as satisfying as a Negroni.

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Marathon Mimosa

  1. Add all ingredients to a wine glass with ice, give a quick gentle stir.
  2. Serve with a metal or paper straw and garnish with an orange wedge.

*For the vanilla syrup:
• 1 vanilla bean
• 500ml water
• 500g castor sugar

Split and scrape the vanilla bean into a small pot with the water (add the pod as well). Bring to a very gentle simmer for five minutes, then take off heat and stand for five more minutes. Add sugar and stir till dissolved, when cooled strain into a bottle. Add the pod to keep giving the syrup flavour.

 
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Mr Pocket Fizz 

  1. Add first five ingredients to a highball glass with ice and give a quick stir.
  2. Top with soda and dunk a bar spoon once just to agitate the 2 liquids together but without knocking out all the bubbles.
  3. Serve with metal or paper straw and garnish with a bouquet garni of woody herbs, a fresh bay leaf and cucumber ribbon. 

*For the lemon thyme sparkling water:
• Add 30 sprigs of lemon thyme to a litre of water and let macerate overnight (18-24 hours). Strain off water and charge with a soda stream or soda syphon.

 
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Camillo Placebo 

  1. Add all ingredients to a mixing glass and stir down with ice.
  2. Strain over large clear ice in a rocks glass and garnish with a grapefruit twist. 

*For the cold-brew cascara tea:
• Add 30g cascara and 600ml cold water together and let steep in the fridge for 24 hours. Strain off and bottle.

**For the bitter grapefruit cordial:
• 16 half spent Ruby Grapefruit shells from juicing
• 2 tablespoons of local 100% real organic honey
• 2 x 10cm sprigs of rosemary
• 2 cloves
• 500g castor sugar
• 300ml water
• Fresh beetroot powder (to your desired colour)
Add all ingredients but the beetroot powder to a large Cryovac bag and seal, sous vide on 55 degrees for two hours. Rest at room temp for two more hours, then fine strain off the liquid. Add beetroot powder, very little at a time to get a desired colour and stir till dissolved. Bottle and keep chilled.
For the beetroot powder, peel and grate four large beetroots, lay on an aluminium tray and sun-dry for 3-4 days until completely dry with no moisture (turning 2-3 times a day). Once dried, place small amounts at a time in a herb grinder and blend to a fine powder. Store in an airtight container somewhere dry.

***For the botanical distilled water:
• 3L water
• 5-6 whole organic roses (pick your favour by smell, a lot to choose from)
• Peel of 3 oranges
• Peel of 3 lemons
• 10g Saltbush leaves
• 3 tablespoons of rosehip
• 1/4 cup of juniper
• 1 tablespoon gentian
• 40g fresh ginger
• 3 cinnamon quills
• 1 teaspoon fennel seeds

Add all the ingredients from rosehip down the list to the water and let macerate for 24 hours. Add the water and all the content to an Air Still. Place cheese cloth over the top of the still and push down to form a basket two inches above the water. You will need two people for this, but with the cheese cloth over hanging down the side of the Air Still have the other person tie tight around the still with string so it doesn’t fall in. Place the rest of the ingredients in the basket, be gentle not to push the cloth into the water. Place the top on and turn the still on, once you distil 1Litre turn off, cool down and bottle.

 

 
Angostura aromatic bitters
Angostura aromatic bitters is found in just about every bar the world over and has a long history. It was served in bars-cum-apothecaries during Prohibition in the States, and is, in our opinion, just as good as a stomach-settling shot (that’s what they were originally created to aid) as it is as an ingredient to bind together flavours.
Proximo Australia

Angostura orange bitters
From the makers of the most iconic bitters out there, Angostura orange bitters employs its own recipe and doesn’t use any of the ingredients from the recipe for their aromatic bitters. Citrusy and warming on the palate, use it in classic recipes calling for white spirits.
Proximo Australia

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