What do people like to drink with a good meal? Increasingly, alcohol-free beverages. So why is this? The wide variety of nonalcoholic drinks is especially evident in high-end gastronomy. Examples include kombucha, teas, cold herbal infusions or even juices. The award-winning book, “Die neue Trinkkultur” (The New Drinking Culture), takes an in-depth look at the whole range of alcohol-free beverages and gives tips about how to include these in a menu. The author is Nicole Klauß, a culinary consultant from Berlin. When asked why top chefs are suddenly troubling themselves with alcohol-free pairings, she says: “With ‘Crafted Pairing’ – that is, homemade beverages – chefs have the possibility of perfectly matching drinks to dishes.” With wine that isn’t possible because it’s ready-made and waiting in the cellar.

Her personal zero-alcohol discovery is water kefir: “It’s very adaptable. You can mix it with herbs or coffee, or add water kefir crystals directly to apple juice, which takes away the sugar from the juice and adds a few natural bubbles.” The author believes that we’ll be seeing lots more exciting products come onto the market. In her book, she already lists “Seedlip”, a type of  alcohol-free gin from Great Britain, which is made by macerating spices, herbs or slices of fruit in water and then distilling it.

Nicole Klauß spent several years researching and experimenting for her book. This allowed her to acquire a lot of knowledge, which she passes on in her book in the form of easy-to understand dos and don’ts. Here are a few of her tips:

1. Warm drinks go well with lots of dishes; for example, tea is a good accompaniment for cheese or Japanese cooking.
2. Hearty and fatty dishes need to be accompanied by something with refreshing acidity and a little sweetness.
3. Sweet foods require a sweet partner: the beverage should always be at least as sweet as the dish, preferably sweeter. If the dish is sweeter, the drink will lose its strength and be perceived as dull and boring.

And finally, Nicole Klauß has a tip for anyone who wants to get started with alcohol-free beverages: “Choose one of the ingredients of the recipe, e.g. a herb such as mint, fennel or rosemary, and use this in the drink.”

Book recommendation: “Die neue Trinkkultur” by Nicole Klauß, publisher: Westend-Verlag. (https://www.westendverlag.de/buch/die-neue-trinkkultur)
Blog recommendation: www.lokalverstaerkung.wordpress.com

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