Non-alcoholic drinks that aren't sweet and are available in the UK?
August 15, 2008 11:34 PM   Subscribe

Can you recommend non-alcoholic drinks that aren't sweet and are available in the UK?

I quite like drinking something non-alcoholic, that has a pleasant taste but isn't sweet.

Things like Shloer, Ame, funky sparkling fruit cordials are just too sweet.

Why is it so hard to find something that fits the bill in the UK?

When I've travelled to Africa / Middle East there are all sorts of things - Bavaria Apple Malt (non alcoholic, not sweet apple beer thing) and more standard non-alcoholic beers that can be found everywhere.

I occasionally like non-alcoholic beers like Becks but there must be more than beer out there that isn't sweet?!
posted by tkbarbarian to Food & Drink (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I am a huge fan of tonic water, which isn't very sweet at all.
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 12:18 AM on August 16, 2008

Old-fashioned cloudy lemonade is good.
posted by Nick Jordan at 12:37 AM on August 16, 2008

I'd like to recommend any type of Ginger Brew. Though there is sweetener added, it does not have a sweet sugary taste. The initial bite of ginger was an extremely pleasant surprise to me.

You may have luck finding Reed's Ginger Brew in the UK. I've tried it here in the states-- it's good, but not my favorite.
posted by strangememes at 12:38 AM on August 16, 2008

When I was in England I drank Ginger Beer all the time for this purpose.
posted by Jahaza at 1:11 AM on August 16, 2008

Ditto the ginger beer. Also, if it's for home or a well-stocked pub, try cordials - some are going to be mad sweet, but ginger or peppermint won't be. I'm a big fan of lime, as the acidity cuts the sweetness.
posted by carbide at 1:47 AM on August 16, 2008

Are you looking for drinks in pubs/restaurants or just generally?

Appletiser or similar might fit the bill (100% juice, sparkling, no additives). Most pubs will have a ginger wine like Stone's available, if only for mixing 'Whisky Mac', but it's an acquired taste. Is J2O too sweet? If you want to go traditional you could try dandelion and burdock (but watch out for the sugar-loaded cheap stuff).
posted by boosh at 2:05 AM on August 16, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks so far - I do like ginger beer - a lot of it is still rather sweet though. J20 is definitely too sweet - will see if I can find some "not cheap stuff" dandelion and burdock as I enjoyed the taste of that as a kid. I'm mainly looking for stuff I can enjoy at home - I expect there would be more choice than if I restricted my search to pubs/restaurants!
posted by tkbarbarian at 2:41 AM on August 16, 2008

I would suggest looking out for Fentiman's drinks. They have Dandelion and Burdoch, Ginger Beer and Victorian Lemonade, among others and are available in bars and cafes. They are 'botanically brewed' using an old fashioned technique and natural ingredients and this shows through in the flavour as well as making them less sweet than typical.
posted by tallus at 3:19 AM on August 16, 2008

There's iced tea. And iced coffee.
posted by Class Goat at 3:40 AM on August 16, 2008

Variation upon a theme but Ginger Ale (available from a lot of off licences) is very pleasant and I prefer it to ginger beer.

Schweppes Bitter Lemon is very nice (though may contain sugar).

If you go to a large supermarket the mixers are kept near the spirits aisle will stock a variety of different drinks, a small percentage of which will not be sweet.

Marks and Spencers used to have (and I believe still do) old fashioned lemonade- again may have sugar in them but more emphasis on the bitter.
posted by Gratishades at 3:58 AM on August 16, 2008

Have you tried Bionade? It comes in the flavours elderberry, lychee, herbs, and ginger & orange. I've only tried one or two of these flavours, but liked them, as they're not sweet like softdrinks are. It looks like Bionade is available in the UK. (If they're still too sweet, you could try mixing them with water or maybe sparkling water.)

Another drink I like is sparkling water with a spoonful of elderflower syrup. Syrup is sweet, but if you add just a tiny bit, the taste is really refreshing and not at all sweet.
posted by amf at 4:29 AM on August 16, 2008

My pub tipple when driving is Soda Water with Lime (cordial). Much less sweet than lemonade etc - and still nice - worth a try! Also has the benefits of being pretty universally available in pubs, unlike ginger beer etc...
posted by prentiz at 4:32 AM on August 16, 2008

Soda, lime (fresh squeezed) and a couple of drops of angostura bitters is pretty good.

You can also hunt down "Chinotto" - a bitter soft drink in cans made by San Pellegrino if you look carefully. They often stock it in the deli part of the Carluccio's restaurant chain. It's very nice!
posted by bifter at 5:00 AM on August 16, 2008

Elderflower cordial diluted to your own taste with fizzy water can be tart enough (and delicate enough) to cut through the sweetness. Slimline tonic and a couple of dashes of angostura. Or try mixing ginger beer with a splash of lime cordial for something that shouldn't work but does.

(Fentiman's has shandy and D&B now? Damn, I feel homesick.)
posted by holgate at 5:11 AM on August 16, 2008

I like the Feelgood Drinks sparkling cranberry & lime - the apple & blueberry seems to be available in more places, but I'm not keen on blueberries and anyway it sounds like it'd be sweeter. I can get the small bottles in my local co-op and they also do 750 ml bottles, which are next to the Appletizer and so on in the out-of-town Tesco. And I'm another person who always drinks lime & soda in pubs because everything else is too sweet! Some nice apple juices are also ok, but harder to get - if you can find the Cornish Orchards single varietals in a deli somewhere go for one of the less-sweet ones, they have descriptions on the label but I've forgotten which is which.
posted by Lebannen at 8:52 AM on August 16, 2008

Am I going totally off the topic to suggest tomato juice with worcester sauce, tabasco sauce, lemon juice, ground pepper and celery salt?

The drink of the gods.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 11:01 AM on August 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

Bitter lemon? On its own or mixed with sweeter drinks.
posted by Tapioca at 3:41 AM on August 17, 2008

D & G Jamaican Ginger Beer ( Tesco stock 'em )
Ikea stock a very tasty non-alchoholic pear cider Kopparberg.
Disclosure : I have a very sweet tooth.
posted by Dr.Pill at 9:46 AM on August 17, 2008

Marks & Spencer also do a delicious fresh "limeade cooler". It has some sugar in it, but it's very bitter. It may be only sold during the summer though, they tend to vary their products seasonally.
posted by unbearablylight at 3:20 AM on August 26, 2008

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