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Something to Drink

Okay. Never mind my name for the moment. I've decided to forswear beer and wine with dinner for a little while and I'm looking for a substitute.

I love water but I find it unsatisfying with meals.

Soda, fruit juice, and anything sweet are out.

Tea, coffee, or any variation thereon, caffeinated or not, won't do.

Alcohol-free beer and wine will make me wistful.

Milk? Yeah right.

Any suggestions? Some traditional beverage I haven't thought of? Something non-traditional, the product of a laboratory? I'm willing to disregard Michael Pollan's advice and eat (or drink) something my grandmother wouldn't have recognized as food (or drink).

Thanks in advance.

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  1. We don't drink alcohol in my house, so I can tell you what our main choice is - seltzer. It took me a few days to get used to it, but now I drink it constantly. You can add lime or lemon, if that is acceptable ( I see the "no fruit juice" ) , or a little of any juice for a hint of tast without sweetness. I really just like it by itself, very cold.

    2 Replies
    1. re: elfcook

      I grew up on seltzer. My favorite is Vintage brand, and Poland Spring is pretty good too (different brands do vary a lot). Add a slice of lemon or a thin piece of ginger.

      1. re: elfcook

        Seltzer is great.
        Several years ago I had a service that delivered me a case (6 bottles) of the old time siphon bottle seltzer every week.

        Now an ice cold Pelligrino water seems to satisfy the thirst.

        1. re: latindancer

          I LOVE Pellegrino, no fruit :) It's not cheap but we buy it by the case at Costco at a decent price. It just has a different flavor than any other sparkling or mineral water I've tasted.

          1. re: c oliver

            I love Pellegrino also- one of the best items in Costco. Sometimes we just drink seltzer though.. much cheaper.

            1. What do you drink with your lunch?

              4 Replies
              1. re: Cathy

                Water. But my "lunch", eaten at my desk while I'm still on the clock, hardly merits being called a meal. (Zone bar [see comment re Pollan's dictum], apple, some multigrain chips.) When I'm sitting down to a proper hot dinner I want a proper drink.

                Seltzer is still water and tart lemonade is still fruity.

                I've never tried kvass. Any thoughts on the subject? Though I don't believe it's available even at the epic Whole Foods recently opened in my 'hood.

                1. re: PlonkMan

                  Kvass is usually pretty sweet. The commercial versions, anyway.

                  1. re: DeppityDawg

                    Kvass is what we make from our stale bread (grandma's recipe); it is mildly alcoholic, however.

                  2. re: PlonkMan

                    Kvass is great homemade, but.... interesting when commercially-made. And yes, it can be sweet.

                2. Gatorade? Can't think any of anything else being that you said no to the seltzer and such.

                  1. Wow, I am stumped! I really think you ruled out most liquids. My only suggestion is Yerba Mate, but it is very much like tea. Oh yes, there are always slurpees (just kidding!)

                    5 Replies
                      1. re: billieboy

                        Ya know, tomato or V8 isn't a bad idea. Flavorful.

                        1. re: c oliver

                          Mott's Original Vegetable Juice is a better choice, IMHO

                        2. re: billieboy

                          Think I read that Postum is out of business and off the market?

                      2. Seems like there is not much left without beer, wine, soda, fruit juice, cofffee, tea, or milk.

                        I like a splash of bitters (Angostura or orange) in sparkling water. Bitters do have alcohol, but it would be only a tiny amount.

                        1. Perhaps some herbs like mint or thyme? It will work even better with a splash of lemon or lime, and you don't need to add sugar.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: kobetobiko

                            I was just wondering what the OP's definition of 'tea' is. Herbal infusions of herbs (tisanes) are nice hot or cold. Lemongrass would be nice too, or rosemary, even just muddled with ice and soda added.

                            1. re: babette feasts

                              A Japanese place I used to go to served a great ginger tea after a meal. It really soothed my stomach after pigging out on his outrageously generous sushi/sashimi plate.

                          2. I'm off alcohol for a while & I've substituted sparkling water (Costco) which I've always enjoyed. However, when I visit parents in Texas, usually in the Summer, seems I drink iced tea 'round the clock.

                            1. Herbal tea? Hibiscus tea (Jamaica)? Cucumber water? Roasted barley tea (Mugicha)?

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: xanadude

                                I second the barley tea (roasted barley) and the Hibiscus tea. Other herbal teas are possibilities as well. And ginger ale is always a good choice, home made is so much better than that stuff in a can.

                                1. re: KaimukiMan

                                  Barley tea, served in every restaurant in Korea.

                                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                                    And hibiscus and other herbal teas need not be served hot (or iced). Experiment with room temperature or slightly cool.

                                  2. re: xanadude

                                    I often entertain a friend who doesn't drink. One of his favorite drinks is an infusion I make with dried hibiscus flowers (that I purchase from mexgrocer.com) and flavor with cinnamon or ginger. I often add Splenda, but not very much. Sometimes my friend will add a splash of either club soda or tonic.

                                    It's not cheap, but he also likes verjuice with a splash and fresh cranberry or pomegranate juice, also with a splash. Homemade ginger ale is a great idea. I'll have to try that.

                                    1. re: xanadude

                                      Jamaica (hibiscus tea) was my thought as well. I love it with meals.

                                    2. Ah, funny you should ask! We've just finished our third month alcohol free (Which will end this Sat. shortly after we land in Las Vegas!). We have a glass jug of our well water in the fridge. At meal time we quarter a lemon or lime and add it to a tall glass of water. Refreshing, tasty and healthy.
                                      Ten pounds lighter and smilin'.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: Passadumkeg

                                        You can add anything to a pitcher of water to give it some flavor, like they do in spas. I've seen lemon-lime, cucumber, orange, strawberry-pineapple. It gives it a little kick without giving it overpowering flavor.

                                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                                          I've been alcohol free since last June (few more months to go), & not an ounce of weight reduction :( Although that's not the reason for my "fasting"....

                                          1. re: ceekskat

                                            My wife had to "abstain" for a year in Bolivia due to hepatitus.

                                            1. re: ceekskat

                                              We've actually been amazed at how not drinking wine w/ dinner during the week has caused us to lose weight - not just the wine calories, but we find that we eat less at dinner, and are better at resisting ice cream after dinner!

                                          2. Ginger beer or rootbeer? :D
                                            yeah soda water rocks, but it's bad for your teeth mind.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: Soop

                                              Marmite mixed w/ Bisto in a glass of tepid London water, yum.
                                              Just foolin'!

                                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                You should probably check my profile... I hate the way people assume that 'London' and 'England' are interchangable. Not saying you did there, but... check my profile.

                                                1. re: Soop

                                                  Where? I just added London tap because it is disgusting. If yoy're a Geordie, have a pint of Tetley's for me. Liverpuddian eat some scous.

                                              2. re: Soop

                                                The additional erosive potential of carbonated water over regular water is negligible at best.


                                              3. I've been drinking sparkling mineral water with Meyer lemon juice and a couple of dashes of angostura bitters.

                                                1. I don't find sparkling water to be the same as regular water and thus a Pellegrino or whatever would be acceptable here. Maybe try this again, even though you have dismissed it as "Well, that's still just water". I don't find plain water too satisfying in this case either, but a sparkling water, esp. with a slight hint of fruit flavor (won't be overly sweet, just a hint) really hits the spot. My favorite right now is from Target: Archer Farms sparkling Italian mineral water, citrus flavor. I'd buy it by the case if they would put it out that way; it's only $1.39 a liter at my local Target. (I probably should start asking them if they have cases of it in the back, such a pain to deal with half a dozen loose glass bottles at a time.)

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: CrazyOne

                                                    Have you (or anyone else out there) ever tried "Chinotto"?
                                                    It is an Italian sparkling beverage.
                                                    It has the most unique flavor, and it's not sweet; it's bitter sweet. Bitter orange is the flavor.
                                                    It tastes like a less sweet, slightly sparkling Campari.
                                                    It's an aquired taste for sure, but so very delicious if you like it.

                                                    1. re: NellyNel

                                                      Chinotto is my own personal crack. I can't get enough of it!

                                                  2. I also find plain water unsatisfying with meals so I usually doctor up. Simple sliced cucumbers and lemon add flavor and freshness to filtered water while ayran can be made by adding yogurt, salt and a little mint.

                                                    I find, also, that a concoction of water, lime juice, honey and cayenne pepper is a very satisfying beverage that can occasionally tide me over if I don't have time to eat a proper meal.

                                                    7 Replies
                                                      1. re: Soop

                                                        Ever tried Nestors cup?

                                                        Nope - what is it?

                                                        1. re: NellyNel

                                                          Well King Nestor - the legendary king involved in the Siege of Troy had a... kind of breakfast recipe called "Nestors cup". I recall it had oats, honey, and perhaps cheese in it. I'll just check to make sure.

                                                          *edit* Here: http://answers.google.com/answers/mai...

                                                      2. re: JungMann

                                                        That sounds surprisingly close to the "master cleanse" lemonade fast that's so faddish these days. I tried it once, lasted exactly one day. Fasts are not for me. The lemonade tasted surprisingly good though.

                                                        1. re: Emmmily

                                                          It was recommended to me as a "cleanse." I don't really believe in these cleanses, but I liked the taste of the beverage so I just added it to my repertoire without the hocus-pocus cleanse stuff.

                                                          1. re: JungMann

                                                            I'd never thought to just drink it as an everyday beverage, but since it is pretty tasty, why not? Thanks for the idea!

                                                            1. re: JungMann

                                                              Wow! I'm really impressed by the sheer number of suggestions on the second round. Thanks to all of you.

                                                              Of course I'm reading this Wednesday morning, after I gave up and had about a third of a glass of wine with dinner last night, but I'm none the worse for wear. No one ever said cold turkey was a picnic.

                                                        2. Have you tried Kombucha? Its pretty different. You can get it in that specialty non alcoholic bottled drink section at higher end stores like Whole Foods.

                                                          1. Barley tea,boricha Japanese and Korean ;toasted barley,hot water and brew.I like it cold,warm and hot year round

                                                            1. There are LOTS of good suggestions in here (especially non caffeinated steeped beverages), but I suggest you question your original premise of water being unsatisfying at meals. I gave up colas a few months ago, and over time have really come to appreciate water more and more. Admittedly we have really clean tasting water here, but apparently you have good water where you are as you say that you do love water. Give it more of a chance, for me it was more a matter of getting used to the flavor of water with meals than actually missing the other options.

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                I was never a fan of plain water, but our well water actually tastes good.

                                                                1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                  Mine is yummy too! I live in Poland Spring, and the stuff that's always overflowing from our well tastes so much better than the fancy water they bottle just down the road, even though most of it comes from the same aquifer. I think they filter all the taste out. We guzzle a lot of plain water, especially in the summer, plus plenty of seltzer - whatever cheap store brand we find, preferably not flavored. But giving up alcohol? Truth be told, I'd rather be fat than forgo my nightly brewskis, cheap wine, and various delicious homebrewed concoctions. I've grown rather attached to my beer gut (and it to me!).

                                                                  1. re: Kinnexa

                                                                    The abstinence ends tomorrow! Beer and ribs waiting for me in Las Vegas. What a great way to break cabin fever. I need tyo watch my weight during the winter because I begin a very physically active schedule in May guiding. and I'm gettin' old....
                                                                    Not a beer gut, but a liquid grain storage bin, if you please.
                                                                    Or if you have something valuable to protect, you build a roof over it.

                                                                    1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                      Congratulations on breaking the long fast! Here's to your 'storage bin'. :)

                                                              2. Kombucha. The pond scum kind with all the algae-goodness in it has a lovely nutty flavor.

                                                                Also, how about tonic water? I love this kind: http://www.qtonic.com/

                                                                Cold barley tea is also really nice.

                                                                1. I like coconut water -- it's not too sweet and supposedly has health benefits. I drink this more like a snack when thirsty , not with meals. Why do you feel that you have to necessarily drink anything with meals? Most dishes contain enough water. Drink whatever between meals, after, before, during. I drink a variety of things, all told, including tap water. During summer I like cold mint tea made with my garden mint (3 varieties), peppermint, lemon balm, lemon grass.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: neverlate

                                                                    I find a lot of the time at work, after I've eaten, my mouth feels a little parched, so I fetch a glass of water. At home, probably fruit juice or wine, but generally after the meal.

                                                                  2. I would drink whatever goes well with the particular meal I'm having:

                                                                    clear broth with a plate of noodles; black coffee with tuna sandwich; beer with pizza; wine with steak; tea with chinese, coconut water with Thai food, lassi with Indian food; a nice creamy soup with a salad....etc.

                                                                    Only recently I've experienced red wine with chocolate for dessert where previously i would have just have it with black coffee.

                                                                    If you feel like you need to find ONE designated drink with any meal it sometimes becomes the odd item that doesn't mesh with the eating experience. It's more fun to leave it open.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: HLing

                                                                      Beer with Pizza...you're my kinda guy :-)

                                                                    2. Would you care to elaborate on your preferences at all. I am finding it hard to make a suggestion because I find a number of the items you listed to be perfectly acceptable substitutes for alcohol with a meal.

                                                                      For example, there are thousands of types of tea, surely you can find a few to keep on hand and pair with your meals the same way you pair your wines. Why is tea ruled out?

                                                                      There are a lot of meals where milk is a wonderful accompaniment. Why rule it out completely?