When my balance disorder kicked in almost two years ago, I stopped drinking alcohol immediately. This was partly because it interfered with medication designed to help me, but also because when you're spending every second of every day trying to stay upright and steady on your feet, drinking something that makes your head swim even more than it already does seems like lunacy. I've always found it difficult getting people to understand this. They sometimes appear to pity my teetotalism so much that they'll pour me a drink and say "Go on. Just one won't hurt you." Actually, it will. I generally refuse but with persistent offenders I'll take a couple of sips before pushing the glass away.
For the first few months I didn't notice that I wasn't drinking. Working out how to live with the condition was far more important. But after a while, I started to miss alcohol. I've never once missed being drunk and definitely can do without hangovers. I rarely drank with the intention of getting smashed. I have, however, missed the spicy hit of an ice cold gin & tonic as it slips down your throat, the indescribable relief of sinking a freezing bottle of lager on a boiling hot day and the sexiness of sipping on a tumbler of warm, neat scotch late on a Friday night before bed. While I couldn't afford it that often, I've even missed the decadence of adoring a glass of champagne while everyone else complains that the bubbles make their nose itch. Excuse me while I stare wistfully off into space.
I needed a replacement. I needed something that felt special without making me fall over. It was suggested that I seek out some posh pop - slightly more expensive than your Coca-Colas, traditionally brewed and poured into thick glass bottles. I was hooked straight away and have spent countless hours since looking for brands I haven't heard of before. I'm not saying I haven't been found sniffing the fumes from the neck of a Tanqueray bottle, or been spotted deliberately buying champagne truffles, but alcohol doesn't feel like something I need anymore. When I'm able to again, I may have the odd miniature bottle of Moët as a special treat before passing out face-down, but I can't imagine I'll ever drink socially again.
I thought it might be fun (and not in any way evangelical) to start sharing some of the posh pop I've come across. If you have any brands you think I should know about, feel free to drop me a line or shoot me a message on Twitter. Whether you drink alcohol or not, I've come across some real gems. Just don't go buying up all the stock so there's none left for me!
I was recently scouting through the Heal's website looking for Christmas presents when I came across La Mortuacienne French Lemonade. It comes in various flavours and being that I'm a sucker for pretty packaging and an old-fashioned ceramic stopper, I added a couple of bottles to my order without a second thought.
flavours, the pink lemonade and the mandarin, are gorgeous. They're not too sharp like many traditional lemonades and not too sweet like other highly coloured pop. There are quite a few other flavours, which I've already tracked down to a secret department store in the south east. The very best thing about them is that the first time you open the bottles the stopper pops with the satisfying tension of a champagne cork. Simple pleasures.
I decided to drink some of the mandarin flavour while watching the Strictly Come Dancing final last night. It was a fitting tribute to what has been the best series of Strictly ever. Maybe tonight I'll drown my sorrows in the rest of the bottle as I come to terms with the fact it won't be back on TV for nine whole months. BooHoo!