Peter Spanton beverages

Soft drinks grow up: A former restaurateur thinks he’s found a tasty alternative to alcohol

Peter Spanton, former London restaurateur (and alcoholic) believes he has found an answer.

Ten in the morning seems early to be imbibing in a bar just off unlovely Leicester Square in London’s West End, but then the sophisticated tinctures I’m sampling don’t contain a drop of the hard stuff. They are the creations of recovering alcoholic Peter Spanton, former owner of trendy drinking den Vic Naylor’s in Clerkenwell, who has created an eponymous range of beverages to cater for all types of teetotaller.

“Just because I’ve stopped drinking doesn’t mean I’ve lost all my taste or my desire for good things,” he says. “So when people around me are drinking champagne or £80 bottles of wine, why am I sitting here with fizzy water or a kid’s orange juice?”

Pouring me a glass of Peter Spanton No 7, a ruby-red elixir that, in hue at least, could be mistaken for wine, he says: “It actually looks like a merlot in the glass. The thing I wanted was something you could sip and spend time with.”

In his desire not to be left holding the kiddie-pops, Spanton seems to have stumbled on a growing trend. More and more people are cutting back or cutting out – and that’s before you get to those who don’t self-intoxicate for cultural, religious, pregnancy or health reasons.

Personally I haven’t sunk alcohol during the week for two years now, an abstinence that began for financial reasons (the weekly wine bill was getting a tad excessive), but continued when I discovered the health benefits – better quality sleep being the most immediate.

Peter Spanton No 7 is made up of 55 per cent acai berries from Brazil, valued for its antioxidant qualities, but if we’d met at this hour of the morning back in the 1990s, Spanton would have been pouring 55 per cent alcohol.

“I was a serious drinker,” he recalls of his days running Vic Naylor’s and living on a Thames-side houseboat in Chelsea. “I’d get up at about ten and I’d drink a bottle of wine. Then I would stop at a bar on the King’s Road for an orange juice and vodka, and finally get to my restaurant at about midday and then I’d start drinking properly.”

Vic Naylor’s’ clientele ranged from “the fringes of gangsterism” to YBAs such as the Chapman brothers, Tracey Emin and Sarah Lucas, who, until they were priced out to Hoxton, had galleries nearby. Sam Taylor-Wood worked as a barmaid. “She met Jay Jopling [the art dealer and her former husband] there,” says Spanton.

Lucky to emerge with his liver intact, Spanton turned his back on the sauce in 1999, having met his current partner, Janet Street-Porter, who persuaded him (“kicking and screaming”) to book into The Priory. “We never made a profit again because when I stopped drinking the party stopped,” he says. “People wanted the madness, they wanted me to be the ringmaster. There were bets out as to when I’d start drinking again.”

In which case a lot of barflies would have lost their shirts because Spanton stayed firmly on the wagon, soldiering on with Vic Naylor’s for another five years, while realising how dull drunks can be.

“People getting pissed around me was just boring, and ugly, and just hollow,” he says, as we chink glasses and I get my first, slightly medicinal, taste of No7.

“Acai itself isn’t particularly pleasant, it’s got quite a metallic taste,” he explains. “Most people use it for smoothies, adding raspberries to it because raspberries are such a strong flavour. I used a particular musky grape as I wanted that sort of wine-ishness. Then I added spices and a bit of spring water and to be honest it’s a bit of a Marmite thing – you either like it, or you can’t stand it.” …..

The Independent: Read more

See more: http://www.peterspantonbeverages.com/

Finally, a wine substitute that packs a punch

Substitutes for wine frequently fail to be satisfying because they lack body – now, for the wine lovers among us who want to enjoy a glass of something full-bodied and aromatic – without the alcohol – there is a solution. In the UK, former bar-owner Peter Spanton, now a teacher and a non-drinker, has made a drink that satisfies on this level – and others, too. His invention, Beverage No 7, is a blend of wild Brazilian acai (pronounced ass-eye), grape juice and assorted spices. The Telegraph. Read more