Lunch hour heroes: the drinks that will let you survive a boozy work lunch without embarassing yourself

With the start of boozy lunch season just around the corner, it can be easy to head back to the office a little lighter-headed and a little less productive. These drinks are the low alcohol unit saviours that will give you all the cheer without the sore head at 6pm…

Words: Amy Grier  
Illustrations: Hennie Haworth 

White wine illustration

The light white: Riesling 

German Rieslings are made in a cooler climate and therefore have a lower ABV (alcohol by volume) than wines from hotter climes. Taste expert and wine columnist Professor Barry Smith says, “They typically come in at around 9%, compared to 12-14% for other whites.”
Units per glass: around 1.5

Haig club whiskey illustration

The smart short: Haig Club whisky and water 

This light gold tipple has fewer congeners – chemical elements that contribute to your hangover – than other darker coloured whiskies. “Serving with water dilutes the alcohol and makes the aromas more pronounced so it tastes better,” says Smith.
Units per 175 ml measure: around 1.5

Rose illustration

The elegant one: Pink moscato rosé

Pink moscato has a naturally low ABV (at 9%), unlike some other low-alcohol wines where heat is used to evaporate the ethanol, which can affect the flavour. You can order a glass at most restaurants, so it’s a no-brainer for keeping your head at a client lunch.
Units per glass: around 1.5

Bloody Mary illustration

The lunch long: Bloody Mary

“Fizzy drinks can make you feel drunk faster as the CO2 stimulates a valve in your gut that gets the alcohol into your blood stream quicker,” explains Smith. So fizz-free tomato juice is a sensible mixer. Teamed with a clear spirit, it’s the Steady Eddie of the drinks world.
Units per 175ml measure: 1.4

Brewdog beer illustration

The better beer: BrewDog Dead Pony Club pale ale

“The new breed of craft brewers are adept at producing beers bursting with flavour but also low enough in alcohol to be manageable for lunch,” says beer expert Adrian Tierney-Jones. “This one from BrewDog (3.8%) will pair with whatever you have on your plate.”  
Units per 330ml bottle: 1.25

Chilli mojito illustration

The antioxidant booster: Chilli mojito

“Mojitos have a potent reputation but the antioxidant content in mint actually enhances liver detoxification,” says nutritionist Miguel Toribio-Mateas. Plus, you’ll get a healthy dose of capsaicin from the chilli, which can lower the blood sugar levels that alcohol raises.
Units per 175 ml: 2

Pineapple pisco sour illustration

The hangover fighter: Pineapple pisco sour

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Studies show that vitamin B6 can help ward off hangover symptoms – handy if yours is due to hit during your 4pm conference call. “Pineapple juice provides 14% of your daily B6 needs per cup,” says Toribio-Mateas, making this Peruvian pour a wise choice.
Units per glass: 1-2

Aspinall's Suffolk cider blush illustration

The sensible cider: Aspall Perronelle’s Blush Suffolk Cyder

The berry versions of Aspall, Kopparberg and Rekordelig are all lower in alcohol than the original flavours. “In addition, the fact that these sweet ciders are more sickly means that you probably won’t overindulge,” suggests Tierney-Jones.
Units per 500ml bottle: 2

Red wine illustration

The sipping red: Beaujolais

Red wines are a bit more challenging to find in the lower ABV range but ones from the Beaujolais region of France tend to come in at a fairly low 10-13%. Plus, they’re high in acidity, which acts as a pacer. “You can’t help but sip this one, unlike some wines that you can guzzle like water,” notes Smith.
Units per glass: 1.6

Cocktail illustration

The off-menu order: Gin and coconut water

Order because: a) If enough of us do, it’ll become a thing and b) gin produces less acetaldehyde – which can contribute to nausea – than other spirits. Plus, coconut water contains rehydrating electrolytes, to stave off headaches.
Units per glass: 1.4

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