While many people see entertaining as synonymous with serving alcohol, there are often situations where it isn't appropriate or necessary. Follow this expert advice if you're hosting a booze-free event!
Worried about what to serve at an event without alcohol? Three-hatted Chef Martin Benn, from Sydney’s sought after restaurant Sepia, provides his top tips to create the perfect booze-free dinner party.
Q: What are your top two tips on preparing fine dine food to be served with non-alcoholic drinks?
A: You have to make sure that the balance of flavour is correct. Typically, many soft drinks contain a lot of sugar, which automatically means that sugar and sweet enhanced ingredients should be reduced in the fine dining foods. Or alternatively, opt for a low sugar non-alcoholic beverage, to allow more freedom in your dish and ingredients creations.
Secondly, and again thinking about the flavour profiles of the dishes you’re cooking, think about the natural herbs and fruits that you’d normally marinate or spice your foods with. Chicken is renowned for being complemented with lemons and limes – so opt for a lemon and lime flavoured non-alcoholic drink, turkey with berries (think a raspberry or cranberry beverage) and earthy foods such as beetroots and salads match beautifully with sweet and acidic fruits (mangos, oranges).
Q: Are there any key ingredients that you would recommend using to serve with non-alcoholic drinks?
A: Desserts in general are particularly easy due to the sugar levels and how you can actually control these. As I mentioned above, sugar content is crucial due to the different types of soft drinks on the market and there varying levels of sugars in each.
Q: Are there any ingredients you should steer clear of serving with non-alcoholic drinks?
A: I find it extremely strange to serve raw fish / sashimi or oysters with soft drinks ………it should just not be done in my eyes.
Q: How do you think non-alcoholic drinks should be served to guests at a fine dining dinner party?
A: I like the idea of keeping the setting sophisticated. Serving non-alcoholic beverages in traditional wine glasses re-enforce the fine dining atmosphere and also allow any fruity flavoured soft drinks to breathe in the glass, in exactly the same way as wine.
Q: Are there any non-alcoholic drinks that work well with a variety of fine dining foods?
A: As long as the sugar levels are not to high you can match them with many savoury foods. The Schweppes Mineral Water range is a great accompaniment as it has seven different flavours to match too.
A: Do you get a number of diners at Sepia that request non-alcoholic drinks? Would you say this has increased at all over the past year or so?
A: I think this is a real generation thing, it seems more and more these days that people’s appreciation for wine has declined. I do however think this is a lifestyle thing - many people avoid alcohol for health reasons.
Find out more about Martin's involvement with Schweppes:
Three-hatted Chef Martin Benn, from Sepia, was engaged to create a mouth-watering menu inspired by the adult flavours of the Schweppes Mineral Water range. Featuring a viscous Pumpkin, Parmesan and Rosemary ‘Sloop’, a colourful Beetroot, Goats Cheese and Rye Tart ‘Surprise’ and an Exploding ‘Bombe’ Alaska.