• By: Jane Staples

Keeping it Healthy with Low-Alcohol Cocktails

January is a season for fresh starts and resolutions. It’s a time when many vow to reduce their alcohol consumption, whether for health reasons or maybe due to overdoing it on the holidays. A dry January is one option that’s gaining popularity. If that’s not for you, another option is to try low-alcohol cocktails. What is meant by Low-ABV cocktails? In the world of craft cocktails, this term refers to a drink with less alcohol by volume. Instead of using high-ABV spirits, such as vodka, lower-ABV options offer a rich variation of products, such as Vermouth di Torino or sparkling wines, which have significantly lower alcohol content than typical spirits. These smart cocktails provide a bridge between healthier drinking habits and celebrations.

My personal resolution for January was to reduce my alcohol consumption by 25 percent. With this in mind, I recently sampled a delightful Vermouth di Torino from Italy. Giulio Cocchi Vermouth di Torino Rosso was a happy discovery with a fascinating background.

Vermouth di Torino PGI (Protected Geographic Indication) originated in Piedmont, in northern Italy. It was originally developed during the 18th century and enjoyed in the court of the Savoy kings. Historically, it had roots as a medicinal tonic, then evolved into a popular aperitif. As its popularity grew, it became a favourite drink in the cafes of Turin and eventually was exported to France and Spain, then internationally. It is an artisanal drink made specifically with a blend of Piemontese wine and a combination of aromatic herbs and spices. The herbs also must be grown in Piedmont. Its distinctive bitterness gives it a beautifully complex array of aromas and flavours. This versatility and flavour range make it a key ingredient in Italian cocktails.

With its variety of styles, from Bianco, Ambrato, Rosso to Rosato, and styles like extra dry, dry, and superior, Vermouth di Torino PGI offers many options for crafting unique cocktails. It is classified according to colour and the amount of sugar used in its production. The alcohol level is usually around 16 percent, considerably lower than that of vodka, rum or gin, which all typically contain 40 percent alcohol

Giulio Cocchi Storico Vermouth di Torino Rosso presents with a pretty rosy amber colour and an aromatic nose, giving appetizing fruity and spicy notes. There’s a characteristic sweetness on the rich palate with flavours of cocoa, citrus, rhubarb and herbs, balanced by an appealing current of bitterness. It was delicious poured over ice but is well-known as an ingredient in several popular cocktails, such as the Negroni and Manhattan. I loved it immediately and can see why it is considered the gold standard for Italian vermouth. It’s a mouthwatering aperitif paired with olives and hard cheeses such as Pecorino.

Sweet  16% alcohol  LCBO# 32503  $32.85  750 ml

Here are two recipes for low-ABV cocktails that you can easily make at home. Simply add the ingredients over ice directly in the glass, then stir well. These Mediterranean-style aperitifs pair very well with tasty tapas such as olives and Italian Pecorino cheese.

Dolce Vita – Vermouth & Tonic

• 2 oz Vermouth di Torino PGI Rosso or Bianco
• Tonic water
• Greek Olives
• Slice of lemon


• 1 ½ oz Vermouth di Torino PGI Rosso
• ½ oz Apple juice
• ½ oz Beetroot juice
• ¼ oz Lemon juice
• ½ oz Agave syrup (or simple syrup)
• Lemon zest

The Mediterranean cultures are known for their ability to enjoy life to the fullest. Saper vivere, as my Italian friends say. These low-ABV cocktails are a fantastic way to reduce your alcohol consumption to more moderate levels while still enjoying the celebratory mood of a special cocktail.

For more wine and food discovery from Jane Staples, visit www.bellovinoj.com

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