In my younger days, before I realised that my body really couldn’t handle it, my favourite drinks were gin and orange, rum and black, mojito (I have made a delicious Mojito cupcake before too) and oh, the cocktail I used to absolutely love.

Strawberry Homicide.

They served it in this cocktail bar in London, called Rumours. It’s no longer there, and is now a burger joint.

Truth be told, I never drank very much, because my body doesn’t process alcohol well. My liver can’t do the second step so well. You’ll see what I mean in a minute.

And this meant that I would go from sober to feeling sick pretty quickly, and totally skip the bit in between. People tell me that’s the “nice bit”. I used to often ask Jeff what it felt like to be drunk!

In detoxifying alcohol in the body, there are two key steps – firstly converting the alcohol to acetaldehyde and then converting the acetaldehyde to acetate.

Because acetaldehyde is highly toxic, the liver does its best to convert it to acetate as quickly as it can.

As a whole, alcohol is toxic to the body. That’s why the liver prioritises its metabolism above all else, when/if you drink.

The liver also processes excess oestrogen. And if the liver is busy dealing with the alcohol, or not otherwise working properly, toxins can build up and lead to inflammation and oxidative stress… which can make menopausal symptoms worse.

For example, it can trigger or worsen hot flushes and disrupt your sleep. Although you may think that alcohol helps you get to sleep, it affects the quality of your sleep, making you tired in the morning and perhaps even anxious or depressed.

It reduces REM sleep which is when your brain processes the day and consolidates memories. If REM sleep is disrupted on a regular basis, then this may affect memory function.

Alcohol has also been positively associated with increased risk in breast cancer. In fact, any amount of alcohol increases the risk of breast cancer.

“But Veronica, it’s my only pleasure!”

And some women say, “But Veronica, it’s my only vice!”

I get it. Even though I don’t drink much. It feels nice to be having a drink, especially when everyone else is too, like at this time of the year.

At the end of the day, it’s not necessarily about completely giving alcohol up altogether. It’s about knowing where your own personal threshold is. You may be able to “get away” with one glass or two, and find that if you have more than that, your symptoms get worse. Either way, do remember the guideline of limiting alcohol intake to 14 units of alcohol a week.

But if you find that having even one glass of alcohol triggers your symptoms, good news. All is not lost.

There are non-alcoholic alternatives.

These taste rather like gin, and with reduced sugar tonic water, it can nearly pass for the real thing. It feels like the real thing, even if you don’t think it tastes 100% fully like it. But it’s close.

Non-alcoholic botanicals.

Here are some different brands. It seems pricey at first sight, but it’s similar to a bottle of gin, and if it brings on joy and happiness, I say, bring it on!

Seedlip – https://seedlipdrinks.com/uk – this is the only one I’ve tried so far and I like it
Lyres – https://lyres.com.au – this one is Australian
CeroCero – produced by Lidl (yes, the supermarket) and it’s about half the price of the others
Ceders – https://ceders-alt-gin.com/index.html# – from South Africa

Now, if gin isn’t your thing, how about these?

Nine Elms No. 18 – https://www.nineelmsdrinks.com – more like a wine.
Celtic Soul – from Pernod-Ricard – and rather like a whisky, I gather.
Stryyk Not Rum – https://www.stryyk.com/products/not-rum

Some of these brands are stocked in supermarkets here in the UK, and if that fails, try Amazon.

Some of the sites have some good looking cocktail recipes too. But remember to watch the sugar content of the mixers, OK.

Have a most wonderful break. Celebrate well, rest well and keep well. Remember to put your feet up, let the others wash the dishes and tidy the place, enjoy some no-need-for-thinking Christmas movies, or a rom-com maybe.

Happy holidays!