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16 July 2019
Is NOLO the way to go?
With the NOLO movement looking like it’s here to stay, we’ve got a few questions: how often do you have to go NOLO to make a difference? And what’s the best way to do it?
It almost goes without saying that in the last 20 years or so, public attitudes to fitness, wellness and food have changed beyond compare. Going out for dinner is the new big night out and memberships to boutique fitness studios are no longer the prerogative of celebs but a legitimate status symbol for young professionals.

Incorporated into this shift has been rapidly changing attitudes to alcohol; in a wellness survey undertaken by Balance Festival in 2019, 24% of individuals reported that they avoid alcohol on a night out with friends. And all the signs are that the younger generation are even more cautious, with a study by University College London finding that the number of “lifetime non-drinkers” has doubled since 2005, to 17%.

For this new generation of drinkers, spirits are being replaced with kombucha and alcohol-free botanical blends, while traditional wine, cider and beer is being shunned in favour of lower-alcohol versions. But with the NOLO movement looking like it’s here to stay, we’ve got a few questions: how often do you have to go NOLO to make a difference? And what’s the best way to do it?

Are low alcohol drinks healthier?

It will come as no surprise that cutting alcohol from your life altogether will come with health benefits, but how about simply choosing low-alcohol drinks instead? Are they really all they’re cracked up to be?

The simple answer is that they can be. The good thing about low or reduced alcohol drinks is that by being lower alcohol, you’re likely to consume less units of alcohol over the course of an evening. Units are essentially a measure of how much pure alcohol is in a drink, and the UK Chief Medical Officer currently advises not exceeding 14 units per week – about the equivalent of seven pints of average strength lager or four large glasses of wine. And in the short term, you’ll also get to wake up feeling fresher the next day.

You’ve got to be careful though – tempting as it may be, there’s no point just drinking twice as much.

What options are there on the market?

First things first, let’s lay out what actually constitutes ‘low alcohol’ and what counts as ‘reduced alcohol’ – they’re not the same. The former means that the ‘alcoholic strength by volume’ (ABV) of the drink is between 0.5 and 1.2%, while the latter simply means a drink has an alcohol content lower than the average strength of said drink. 

With more options on offer than ever before, seeking out something suitable in your local shop shouldn’t be too much of a challenge. Most supermarkets now have entire sections dedicated to low alcohol beverages, and even high-street retailer Holland & Barrett now stock low and non-alcoholic wine and bubbly. Spirits such as Seedlip and Three Spirit are shaking up the world of cocktails, and big breweries are getting in on the act, with offerings such as Brewdog's Nanny. 

Fear not if you’re a craft beer fan, it isn’t going to defeat you either; while you might not be taking on the Bermondsey Beer Mile anytime soon, there are a number of low-breweries popping up all over London. Among them is the Small Beer Brew Co, who explain that the drink was “a staple of British daily life in the 1700’s, it was traditionally always brewed between 0.5 - 2.8% ABV” adding that “using sustainable brewing methods, we are committed to reinvigorating a liquid that was once at the very heart of society.”

Soon, you’ll even be about to go ‘out-out.’ In July 2019, UK supermarket giant Sainsbury’s announced the launch of their NO-LO pop-up pub in London, The Clean Vic, which will serve only no or low alcohol drinks. For £5, visitors will receive two drinks and a snack. The pub will also hold a selection of masterclasses, designed to teach punters how to make non-alcoholic cocktails that people actually want to drink.

So, would you try going no-lo? Check out these epic and easy-to-make NOLO recipes for a Seedlip nogroni and a kombucha mojito!

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