• RedHanded Scotland

A different kind of Christmas

Updated: Oct 30, 2020

This coming Monday, 2nd November, Scottish Government are set to bring in a new set of rules for everyone to follow. This follows on from their 16-day lockdown measures, and we're left wondering what has really changed?

The hospitality industry has been extremely vocal in it's distain for the current measures with peaceful ice-drop protests in Edinburgh and Glasgow and unprecedented legal proceedings from Scotland hospitality industry including the SHG, UKH, SLTA and SBPA.

They have every right to be annoyed and upset, as many feel they have been used as a scapegoat with the blame firmly pointed at them. However, we've not seen alarming scenes here in Scotland that have been witnessed elsewhere in the UK such as Newcastle, Cardiff and Liverpool. One big difference is bars in England are able to stay open and serve alcohol as long as it's with a main meal. This has been exploited somewhat, with bars advertising the latest football matches shown live when you dine with a burger. It has also highlighted a major problem with all the bars closing early at the same time causing scenes on the streets that are extremely alarming.

The hospitality industry as a whole, especially here in Scotland, has been extremely rigid in enforcing the rules. Bear in mind, they get regular visits from licensing, the police and council appointed Marshalls, and they want to keep their staff safe too, despite the abusive directed at them from some customers.

Stephen Montgomery from SHG told RedHanded Magazine "The Scottish Hospitality Group have always made the point that we are a safe place to be. From 15th July to 30th September, we served 1.8 million customers, and had only 17 positive cases reported. The new 5 level framework strategy leaves us with a shortage of hours to make it a viable option to trade when we have the new JSS system coming in, and there just isn’t enough trading hours to provide staff with the 20% of their hours to be able to access the scheme. All we want to do is to trade viably in a safe way, to help us to save both our staff and our businesses. We are very concerned about the mental health issue which is now becoming ever more apparent within the trade."

Even though some areas of Edinburgh having recorded zero new COVID-19 cases in the last week, it has been confirmed that Glasgow and Edinburgh are to enter new "Tier 3" which will be implemented into Edinburgh next week. This will see cafes, bars, restaurants and hotels being able to open to the general public until 6pm with no alcohol sales.

The First Minister, today, announced at the Scottish Parliament that these measures will be reviewed on a weekly basis with announcements being made on a Tuesday and will change on the following Friday. Nicola Sturgeon, did state that she hoped Edinburgh would be able to move to level two within the next few weeks if progress continues but could also lead to a full nation shutdown if the virus isn't suppressed.

So based on Tier 3, what could Christmas in Edinburgh look like?

Christmas parties, big events, Christmas Market and Hogmanay are most certainly out, but dining-out will be permitted without the sale of alcohol. Is it the same without alcohol? Well, not quite but the options out there are going to be very welcome from a customer point of view, who are itching to get back out there.

The range of cuisines and standards of food in Scotland are outstanding, this cannot be stated enough. We'll be highlighting some of the best in the debut edition of RedHanded Magazine this November. The alternatives for alcoholic drinks have moved on tremendously over the years and it's expected these will be pushed by hospitality over the next few weeks in order to promote a sense of normality in Tier 3. Here are some of our favourites;

SHRED, Drygate Brewing Co, Glasgow

This is one refreshing, alcohol-free citrus pale ale that is perfect for the festive season. Shred is brewed with orange peel, has fragrant aroma hops, and loads of wheat and oats. Light, dry, zesty and refreshing - everything you want from a beer, any time, any place, but especially during Christmas.

Flying Colours & Yardarm, Jump/Ship Brewing, Edinburgh

Full-flavoured beers, crafted brewed in small batches to be naturally ultra-low in alcohol. Yardarm lager is the flagship of their flotilla, zesty, biscuity and exceedingly drinkable. Flying Colours pale ale is their newest release, it pours a rich amber colour with luscious tropical aromas and satisfyingly bitter finish. As well as being less than 0.5% ABV, their beers are also gluten-free and vegan.

Stryyk Not Rum, Stryyk Not Gin, Stryyk Not Vodka

Say no to compromise and yes to everything else. This is your alt-alc spirit with Irn Bru makers AG Barr investing into their company, you know this is one to ask for. It’s what you should drink in the places you usually drink it. The 'Not Rum' product above does an excellent job as a true non-alcoholic alternative to spiced rum, made from a combination of vanilla, raisin and oakwood. 100% natural with no sugar, no fat, no carbs, no artificial flavours, no alcohol.

Feragaia, Scotland

Feragaia(/fe-ra-guy-a/ and meaning Wild Earth in latin) brings together 14 land and sea botanicals to create a unique and complex distilled alcohol-free spirit.  Widely available in many bars and restaurants, we recommend trying the Winter wanderer: muddled with ginger ale, twist of lime or one of its signature serves such as Wild Mojito, Bramble or Citrus Old Fashioned.

Feragaia’s balanced flavours evolve with every sip. A single taste opens with familiar citrus from blackcurrant leaf, kaffir lime and lemon verbena. A drawn-out herbaceous body is then introduced with nuances of chamomile, pink peppercorn and serrated wrack (seaweed). This takes you all the way to a light smokey note and lengthy, warming finish from cayenne pepper. Truly magical.

Other amazing non-alcoholic drinks available include Belvoir red wine, Eisberg rose wine, Erdinger German beer, Natureo Torres white wine, and Seedlip gin.

So despite being in either a tier 2 or tier 3, we recommend booking your nights out now, it may not be full normality, but its certainly a slice or normality that we should cherish. Plan your festive season now, and have something to look forward to and make the best of it, safely.

A new system of local protection levels will be introduced from 2 November. Check the protection level for your area and find out what you can and cannot do under each level.

Download the Protect Scotland app from NHS Scotland.