V&T, or Vinegar & Tonic, 5p. It’s Dry January everyone!

Vinegar and Tonic by Jack Monroe. January 2015.

Vinegar and Tonic by Jack Monroe. January 2015.

Hello and welcome to the new year, everyone!

As a new year has rolled in, one of my resolutions was to try to be a little healthier – starting with Dry January, or no booze for a month! Seeing we spent the new year on a very pretty holiday exploring Up North and the Lake District, my Dry Jan didn’t start until yesterday. That also means no booze in cooking for me for 30 days too, so maybe holding off the casseroles and risottos for a bit – waa!

One of my favourite restaurants in London to grab a spot of lunch at, take friends, or have meetings these days is Duck Soup in Soho, on Dean Street. Their sister restaurant, RawDuck, in Hoxton, has a VERY interesting drinks menu comprising ‘vinegar sodas’. I remembered this this morning, casting around for something interesting to drink and landing on the vinegar shelf in the kitchen (my Mrs is a chef, what can I say, our vinegar collection is frankly ridiculous. Yours needn’t be quite so frivolous, a simple red or cider will do most jobs for you.)

Anyway, eyes landed on the vinegar shelf, vague memory of RawDuck bonkers drinks enu came back to me, and remembering how PACKED the place was when I popped my head in, I figured they were onto a good thing. Various friends tell me that it’s good for digestion, glowing skin, all round gut health – (don’t we all hear a bit too much about our ‘gut health’ this time of year? Sorry to come over all Gillian McKeith on you…) – and so I gave it a go. And really, really liked it. So here’s a brief not-really-a-recipe recipe if I’ve just about talked you into trying it…

10ml (2 tsp) cider vinegar or red wine vinegar, 2p*
300ml soda water, 3p*

First measure your vinegar into a glass – I like a nice tall one, but any will do. Add a little ice, if liked, and top up with sparkling water. And that’s it! You can vary your vinegars if you like, our abundant shelf of exotic and wonderful vinegars includes a damson vinegar from the Lake District and a Georgia Peach and White Balsamic from Los Angeles – but start with a cider, a white, or a red if you’re on a budget, or go mad in the vinegar aisle if you’re not…

Later in the day we tried it with tonic water instead of soda water, which gives it a bit more of an edge, but also a happy replacement for a gin and tonic… “Fancy a V&T, love?”

*At the time of writing this blog post and getting to the bottom of my glass, Sainsburys cider vinegar was £1.15/500ml, their Basics sparkling water was 20p/2l. Similar products are available at other supermarkets for similar prices, you might even find them cheaper – comment below and let me and my lovely readers know if you do, we all love a bargain! Prices are sadly subject to change and beyond my control, you can check on http://www.mysupermarket.co.uk for the prices, today, where you shop. Neither Sainsburys nor MySupermarket asked me to write this, just, credit where credit’s due makes the world a better place. And so ends the long disclaimer-type-thing.

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  1. I kind of love the idea! I find sober drinks so boring and or sugary I generally end up having a cuppa if I’m out and not drinking. Going to give it a go…

  2. I love a slimline tonic and have a couple in the cupboard, so I’m going to try this, I’m intriqued! My life is a dry one as alcohol gives me migraine, can’t have coffee/tea or chocolate either. Feel sorry for me yet? 🙂

    I can’t imagine what crap you must be getting to put such a disclaimer, wish people would give it a rest. What do they get out of it?

  3. My husband has been drinking cider vinegar, honey and sparkling water for some time now – he suffers with gout so his favourite ciders and wines (as well as most beers) are out of bounds unless he wants to trigger an attack (it’s the sulphites that set an attack going).
    He reckons that this is a highly acceptable alternative to his favourites (and much better than being in searing pain from a condition that some people still think is highly amusing).

  4. Thanks Jack, as a cider lover who needs to cut down or cut it out, this really appeals to me. Especially, as I was born in the real austerity generation that grew up during or after WW2. You really offer a realistic alternative to the consumer, techno obsessed generation. But, seriously you show your appreciation for fun, love, family & the natural environment.

  5. Tried the V&T straight away! Much nicer than I expected – I think with 2tbs you do need a long glass – it’s nicer a bit weaker than you’d expect. And I found a slice of lime added a touch of sweetness which was nice.

  6. The drinking of vinegars has links to the old fashioned ‘Shrubs’ very popular in Victorian times. If you ever read ‘What Katy Did’ you might recall Cousin Cecy made a concoction up that she called ‘Hydromel’ made from weak vinegar!

    Shrubs were popularised by Temperance Bars (there is one in Rawtenstall called Fitzpatricks that is like a tiny jewel box with its rows of coloured glass bottles and old fashioned counter.

    I predict that the drinks of the temperance movement are going to become VERY fashionable in the coming year (I wrote about it a few weeks ago on my site as part of my food predictions for 2015), all those concoction made from roots, shoots and parts of the plant we might not think about using. The marriage of kitchen counter pharma / herbalism and making do, if you like although amateurs need to be VERY careful- some parts of plants that we eat are lethally toxic (rhubarb root for one).

    Here is where I wrote about these bars: you’ll need to scroll down and hope you don’t think I am spamming. – http://nicmillerstales.com/2014/12/16/the-best-thing-i-ate-2014/

  7. This sounds like my dream drink and a bit (just a bit) more socially acceptable than just drinking vinegar. Which I also do. Trying it.

  8. Oooh sounds interesting, I had a bottle of balsamic given to me for crimbo, I may have to crack it open as I appear to have used every vinegar we had (other than malt) on various goodies over the season. Thanks Jack, we are trying to stay on the wagon (well until Friday!). Happy New year to you.

  9. This is like a switchel! It’s all the hipster rage in the US, but don’t let that stop you from partaking. I made one with ginger and it was quite refreshing.

    Happy New Year!

  10. Balsamic with lemonade tastes a bit like Pimms! especially if you can run to a bit of fruit in it!

  11. Slimming world has famous alcohol and syn free pims -capful of balsamic vinegar in litre of lemonade with all usual pimms fruit, delicious!

  12. This sounds perfect, I have some home-made raspberry and elderflower vinegar which I think will work perfectly. I too am trying to cut out alcohol in January.

    I also made chive vinegar again this year which is LOVELY made into a dressing on salads, but I suspect would be disgusting as a drink. But I might try it just to see.

    Oh, and thanks for the coffee/butter tip. I could get hooked on that one.

  13. Superb idea!! I have been known to have a cider vinegar and water, but this sounds much more exotic. Since we have some tonic left over from Christmas I am going to give this a bash! Thanks and good luck with the being dry!

  14. My Mom’s friend cured her arthritis with 2 tsp honey in 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar a day…maybe with the sparkling water you could get a good drink and free from arthritis in one go?! Though to be fair, it’s quite a bit more vinegar than Jack is suggesting!

  15. No. I’ll just have a beer, thanks. I have liked the idea of everything you have done till now, even made some of them. I love the way you have made decent food affordable to anyone who is listening, but this. I can’t go with this.

  16. Really good with home made raspberry vinegar too.this is also good poured over icecream or porridge as it is quite syrupy.

  17. I was given a recipe by a friend for non-alcohol Pimms…. balsamic vinegar, chopped up fruit and cucumber, ice and top with lemonade….beautiful 🙂

  18. This drink must be made for me. Not only do I need a replacement for my G&T during the Dryathlon month of January but you also photographed it in what appears to be one of my Baltika beer glasses! Cheers.

  19. Surprisingly refreshing and tasty, and an alternative to sugary cordials. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  20. When I was a kid (50 years ago!), this drink was highly popular in summer. Soft drinks were a rare treat, the usual drink was just tap water, so tap water with vinegar and maybe a little bit of honey was a great alternative.

  21. I’ve made fruit vinegar (raspberry is traditional but any soft fruit or berry will do it) to use as a dilutable drink before, but that is really a vinegar syrup or cordial. I never thought of using the vinegar on it’s own; love that you constantly prove that imagination and inventiveness rather than just money are what is needed for a varied and interesting diet

  22. I’ve just had a V&T made with red wine vinegar and soda water. Surprisingly refreshing and nice to drink.

  23. Really enjoyed this – cutting right down on my alcohol consumption and finding some cider vinegar with tonic water and a bit of lime to be really refreshing and very tasty. Hats off to you!

  24. Well this is amazing – thank you Jack for providing me with a simple, sophisticated and surprising alternative to the usual sugary sweet non-alcoholic offerings. So good! I’ve just tried three small V&Ts with different vinegars I happen to have in stock. My favourite so far is definitely mango V&T, but all three were good. Very happy; I think I’ll have another one to celebrate!

    Oh and I can’t wait to try non-alcoholic Pimms as per the comments… Sun’s out tomorrow I believe 🙂

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