Indulgent alcohol free drinks are all the rage these days. The times where choosing not to drink alcohol meant an uninspiring choice of a sugary soft drink or a tonic water are long behind us.
In this Punchy Drinks review, I discuss one of my latest finds. I reveal whether or not it’s one that I intend to add to my regular rotation of guilt-free “grown-up” drinks.
Given that we’ve gone from having no choice at all, to almost too much choice, that bar is moving higher all the time.
What Are Punchy Drinks?
Punchy Drinks is a range of high-end artisan soft drinks created in the UK. The manufacturer refers to them as “soft punch,” and there are three flavours in the range, each containing fruit and other ingredients, such as ginger and herbs.
I may be wrong on this, but I think that Punchy Drinks used to also sell alcoholic versions of their products. However, I couldn’t find these on their website when I came to type up this Punchy Drinks review.
I’m willing to stand corrected on this, put it appears that Punch has decided to concentrate on the ever-growing market for alcohol free drinks.
Punchy Drinks Review: Flavour By Flavour
Punchy Drinks offers a rather unique range of flavours. I’ve reviewed several alcohol free Spritzers, and there’s often rather a lot of cross-over between their products, but the flavours here are ones I’ve not seen elsewhere.
Let’s look at what I thought of each:
Punchy Cucumber, Yuzu and Rosemary (First Dip)
I have to admit I was sceptical about this one. The only time I’ve ever allowed cucumber anywhere near a drink is floating in a jug of Pimm’s! I wasn’t convinced I’d enjoy it as the main flavour.
I was pleasantly surprised. This slides down beautifully on a hot day, and although the cucumber is the main flavour, there’s plenty of the yuzu present too. (For those not “in the know,” yuzu is a citrus fruit, akin to a cross between a lemon, a mandarin and a grapefruit.)
You do detect the rosemary, but not enough for it to be overpowering. This is an enjoyable (and notably unique) drink – although I’d say it’s best suited to summer drinking.
Punchy Blood Orange, Bitters and Cardamom (Golden Hour)
This blood orange blend is rich and complex, with an enticing smell the moment you open the can. Of the three, it’s definitely the flavour that makes you understand the “punch” label – there’s a lot going on with this variety.
The orange taste is rich – sour but not astringent, with an ever so slightly medicinal edge. I say that as a complement! This definitely has something in common with the taste of Three Spirit’s Social Elixir (reviewed here) – one of my alcohol free favourites.
This is a sophisticated beverage – probably my favourite of the range. If the “First Dip” is a summer drink, this – for me – is perfect for autumn. It’s won a “Best Taste” award – one I’d say was very much deserved.
Punchy Peach, Ginger and Chai (Holiday Romance)
I’m a big fan of ginger in drinks. When I was young, I used to drink ginger ale and stir sugar into it! This Punchy Drinks variety reminded me of that.
Ginger is the over-riding flavour, although you do notice the peach. The chai seems to give it a certain bitterness, making it feel much more like an “adult” drink than my nostalgic ginger and sugar concoction!
While I do enjoy this flavour, there’s a reason why I won’t buy it again – it makes me sneeze! I wrote this in my original tasting notes, and when I tried another can, exactly the same thing happened. Perhaps it’s an allergy thing, but it does give me a tickle in my nose and throat! Your mileage may vary.
Nutrition and Calories
As with many modern alcohol-free drinks, Punchy is very much sold as a healthy option – and not just because it doesn’t involve booze.
The drinks are low in calories (around 50 per can), and made from all-natural ingredients. They are vegan friendly and gluten free. They are NOT free of sugar, which accounts for the small number of calories, but they are “low” in sugar.
There’s a trade-off here between calories and choosing something without artificial sweeteners. Gunna Drinks, another soft drink range I’ve reviewed, also takes the path of “low sugar” rather than “no sugar.”
Eco and Ethical Credentials
Punchy Drinks has solid eco-credentials. The packaging is completely plastic-free, and the company donates a proportion of profits to environmental charities.
I’m always keen to see what other companies brands support. As a huge advocate for mental health awareness, I was pleased to see Punchy working with Jesey, a mood-monitoring app.
One problem I often see with artisan soft drinks is an element of price gouging. Since I gave up drinking, I’ve often found myself spending nearly as much on fancy soft drinks and alcohol free spirits as I did on booze!
I purchased a mixed case of 12 cans for the purposes of my Punchy Drinks review, and paid £18. That works out to a very fair £1.50 per can. If you get particularly “into” these drinks, you can save on bulk orders – a case of 60 works out to £1.25 per can.
I’m happy with the value of Punchy Drinks. They’re not trying to charge as much as you’d typically pay for a can of cocktail or pre-mixed G&T – which I see as the closest boozy comparison.
At the start of my review of Punchy Drinks, I said that the acid test for the drinks I try is whether they become a repeat purchase.
I can definitely see myself buying the Blood Orange, Bitters and Cardamom again, and possibly the Cucumber, Yuzu and Rosemary – but that one not until the summer. So these drinks largely pass my key test.
The question is where they fit in. Since I went alcohol free, I’ve found perfect fits for many “drinking occasions” – Lucky Saint beer for barbecues, Three Spirit for soireés, and Juke’s Cordialities as a serviceable wine replacement.
That leaves me with the question of where Punchy Drinks fit. On reflection, I can see myself regularly throwing a few of these into a picnic bag, or to drink at the beach. Us non-drinkers are very fortunate to have so many options these days.