I think most of us are aware by now that alcohol is harmful, in fact a survey in 2013 showed that 84% of Scots thought alcohol causes either a ‘great deal’ or ‘quite a lot of harm in Scotland.’ They’re correct to think this, however what may be less well known is the link between alcohol and cancer. Alcohol is carcinogenic, which means it causes cancer and in 2015 more than one in four alcohol related deaths were from cancer in Scotland. It is important to understand that no amount of alcohol is ‘safe’ and no type of alcohol is better or worse than another. Additionally drinking alcohol increases the risk of cancer whether you drink it all in one go or a bit at a time. Therefore for cancer prevention it’s best not to drink any alcohol.

I’m sure we would all like to drink a little less and as luck would have it, I’m just back from Glasgow’s first ever mindful drinking festival! There was an unbelievable variety of alcohol-free drinks, from beer to wines, spirits to cocktails and even a gin tasting class. But I’m going to focus on some of the more unusual highlights from my visit that will appeal to an adult palate and are perfect if you’re considering drinking less, taking part in Sober October or a teetotaller.

  • Kombucha; I’d never heard of it before! But it’s fermented tea with a natural sparkle and it’s full of vitamins, enzymes and probiotics. There are many different types of kombucha, some have smoky aromas, others with more floral notes or fruity, citrus kombuchas. It has a similar look to a light larger or cider but with a more delicate taste. 
  • Spirits; I was surprised at the amount of different gins packaged in decorative bottles that would look beautiful in your drinks cabinet. You can drink ‘em straight or add them to your favourite tonic and garnish with ice and a slice. It looks just like the real thing and has that distinctive botanical, juniper taste that you expect from gin. 
  • Mixers; I tried an amazing pre-mixed Caribbean dark ‘rum’ and cola which packed a powerful spicy punch balanced alongside the sweetness from the cola. While an apple cider vinegar based drink provided enough sharpness to make it the perfect long ‘sipping’ drink to accompany food.

For more ideas on alcohol-free drinks head on over to this brilliant article from Club Soda. It highlights that drinking alcohol will always be more harmful than the alcohol-free alternatives, so try not to worry too much about sugar content. The market for non-alcoholic drinks is expanding rapidly, so get tasting and find the perfect drink for you.


1 NHS Scotland. Available at http://www.healthscotland.com/documents/23453.aspx

2 Public Health Information for Scotland. Available at https://www.scotpho.org.uk/media/1597/scotpho180201-bod-alcohol-scotland.pdf

3 Cancer Research Available at  https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/causes-of-cancer/alcohol-and-cancer/how-alcohol-causes-cancer

4 WCRF Available at https://www.wcrf-uk.org/uk/preventing-cancer/cancer-prevention-recommendations/dont-drink-alcohol