• Burns Night 2019: 12 best Scottish drinks
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    The Independent

    Burns Night 2019: 12 best Scottish drinks

    Most nations like a good excuse for a booze-fuelled get-together and for Scots, 25 January provides one such occasion as they celebrate the birth of national poet Robert Burns. If you’re lucky enough to find yourself amidst a traditional Burns Night celebration, then it’s possible you’ll encounter any number of Scottish cultural clichés that include bagpipes, ceilidhs, tartan kilts, haggis, poetry recitals and, of course, booze, of which whisky is likely to be the toasting drink of choice. To help you celebrate Burns Night in style, we’ve suggested a wide range of drinks, each one produced with the kind of craftsmanship that we think would inspire the great man into poetic raptures.

  • 12 best bedtime teas
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    The Independent

    12 best bedtime teas

    Chamomile, lavender, lemon balm, valerian and hops, to name just a few, are known for their relaxing, sedative properties. "As herbs brew, their colourful pigments, aromatic essential oils and other powerful ingredients will seep into the hot water and create something very special", says master herbalist Sebastian Pole, founder of Pukka Herbs. Whether you prefer your drinks floral, sweet, spicy or citrussy, there’s a blend out there to satisfy.

  • 8 best juice cleanses
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    The Independent

    8 best juice cleanses

    While we wouldn’t advocate juice cleansing for any prolonged amount of time, we can see the benefits of a one-off cleanse, especially if you have a big event coming up for which you’d like to lose the bloat and feel your best. You’ll start the cleanse with a lemon and ginger water before moving on to the larger juices.

  • 10 best alcohol-free beers
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    The Independent

    10 best alcohol-free beers

    Lots of people are cutting their alcohol consumption, for dry January, sober October or simply by becoming “sober-curious” (those questioning their relationship with alcohol) as Britain moves away from a booze-based social culture. “Alcohol-free” or “low-alcohol” beer labelling is complicated. A recent UK review defines it as under 0.05% alcohol by volume (ABV), while in the rest of Europe it’s 0.5% ABV.

  • 10 best alcohol-free and low alcohol wines for Dry January
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    The Independent

    10 best alcohol-free and low alcohol wines for Dry January

    A growing number of shoppers are seeking out lower alcohol or alcohol free versions of their favourite drinks thanks to a shift towards a more mindful lifestyle. In fact the low and no alcohol revolution is set to be the biggest drinks trend next year, with a quarter of consumers looking to cut back on their alcohol consumption and one in 10 Brits attempting Dry January. Waitrose & Partners reports that sales of low alcohol wines were up by 31 per cent in 2018 with recent research suggesting that 47 per cent of us avoid alcohol during the week, rising to 55 per cent among 18-24 year olds.

  • 9 best vegetable boxes
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    The Independent

    9 best vegetable boxes

    If your resolution for 2019 is to tuck into more fruit and veg, you’re not alone.

  • 9 best healthy cookbooks
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    The Independent

    9 best healthy cookbooks

    Get those good intentions off to a flying start with a new healthy cookbook for 2019. The new year is a great time to revamp your recipe repertoire, whether you’re looking to lose weight, support a fitness regime or feed the whole family something nutritious.

  • 10 best vegan chocolate bars
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    The Independent

    10 best vegan chocolate bars

    One of the main reasons people are put off going vegan is the idea of giving up dairy and, in particular, chocolate. It doesn’t mean they can only eat dark chocolate, either. Lots of dark chocolate is accidentally vegan (not intentionally made to be vegan or marketed as such) as it doesn’t contain milk, but don’t assume that it all is.

  • Christmas mince pies made during Second World War found under floorboards in hotel
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    The Independent

    Christmas mince pies made during Second World War found under floorboards in hotel

    A tin of mince pies made for Christmas during the Second World War has been found in pristine condition under floorboards in a hotel on the Isle of Man. The mince pies were addressed to a sailor called Phil Davis, with a letter that reads: "Best, love from Mum".

  • 10 best ginger beers for an alcohol-free Christmas and New Year's Eve
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    The Independent

    10 best ginger beers for an alcohol-free Christmas and New Year's Eve

    The origins of ginger beer can be traced back to the colonial spice trade, when the drink was made from a meeting of spices from the East and sugar cane from the Caribbean. As a naturally fermented product, ginger beer contained up to 11 per cent alcohol in the nineteenth century, before being reduced to two per cent by the 1855 excise tax laws. The modern (and considerably easier) method of producing ginger beer occurs by squeezing ginger and accompanying flavours into a soft drink base.

  • 9 best Japanese whiskies
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    The Independent

    9 best Japanese whiskies

    The cat has been out of the bag for long enough to order its own Japanese whisky at the bar. With a number of instantly recognisable brands on top shelves up and down the country, a bottle of Japanese whisky would make a perfect gift this Christmas for any connoisseurs in the family. The palate is true to the fruity aromas and introduces vanilla and citrus in perfect balance.

  • 12 best German wines
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    The Independent

    12 best German wines

    Germany has always been renowned for its excellent white wines: a little on the sweet side, low in alcohol but always high in quality. In recent years, however, wine drinkers have tended to favour drier wines. As a result, the German market has evolved to cater for all tastes with some splendid dry rieslings and a variety of other white wines, such as pinot blanc, gewurztraminer and grauburgunder.

  • Ferrero Rocher named as Christmas chocolate with least recyclable wrapping
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    The Independent

    Ferrero Rocher named as Christmas chocolate with least recyclable wrapping

    When gorging on mounds of festive chocolate in the lead up to Christmas, how much time do you spare thinking about recycling the plethora of plastic wrappers littering your home? With the world becoming far more environmentally conscious as of late, the recyclability of food packaging has become a hot topic of conversation. While many may be making stronger efforts to put their food wrappers in the designated recycling bin, a recent survey has uncovered which of the UK’s most popular chocolates are actually capable of being recycled.

  • 15 best riojas
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    15 best riojas

    Rioja is a region in north central Spain, about a 2 hour drive from Bilbao, which is further divided into Rioja Alta, Rioja Baja and Rioja Alavesa zones. Although Rioja is most commonly associated with red wine, you’ll also see white and even rose styles available. After this you’ll find Crianza and Reserva, finishing with the most mature Gran Reserva.

  • 8 best ports
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    The Independent

    8 best ports

    While tawny port for example has a nutty quality due to a process of ageing in wooden barrels, white port made from white grapes is often mixed in cocktails. Overall, we’re looking for sweetness that’s not overpowering, allowing some of the lovely, rich berry of the fruit flavours to come through.

  • How to eat, drink and be merry this Christmas if you're a gluten-free vegan
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    The Independent

    How to eat, drink and be merry this Christmas if you're a gluten-free vegan

    If I had a penny for every time someone asked me what I could actually eat as a gluten-free vegan, I’d be able to buy Christmas presents for a lot of people. With a surge in the number of people adopting a vegan lifestyle – it quadrupled from 150,000 in 2014 to 600,000 in 2018 – and greater awareness of gluten intolerance and coeliac disease, food producers are increasingly catering for people on special diets. Tracking down gluten-free vegan products for this roundup was easy, just proving there is nothing you need miss out on at Christmas.

  • 14 best luxury chocolate boxes
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    14 best luxury chocolate boxes

    If you’ve been invited to spend time with friends or family over Christmas and New Year, you’ll be the most welcome guest to the party if you turn up not just with chocolate, but with the most indulgent, luxurious, festive chocolates on offer. For quality of chocolate, variety of choice and flavours, eye-catching presentation and sheer indulgent joy, Hotel Chocolat is the pick of the bunch. A lavish array of delicious chocolates is presented in a luxurious 2-tiered box with a sliding compartment – a definite reusable option once the chocolates are gone.

  • 11 best liqueurs
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    The Independent

    11 best liqueurs

    Which one though, depends on personal taste. Put simply, a liqueur is a sweet alcoholic beverage, made from a distilled spirit, and flavoured, for example, with fruit, spices, herbs, florals, or cream. With its cognac base, and blend of orange bitters from the Caribbean, this French liqueur always has us feeling a little festive.

  • 11 best hangover remedies
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    The Independent

    11 best hangover remedies

    As the festive season rolls around again, we can be certain of a few things: terrible Christmas jumpers, rowdy office parties and, for many of us, hangovers. According to Dr Matthew Foxton, consultant hepatologist at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, hangover treatment should start before the hangover itself. Studies have show the darker the alcohol you drink, the worse the hangover.

  • 10 best Christmas cookie cutters
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    The Independent

    10 best Christmas cookie cutters

    The tree is dressed, the lights are up and your Christmas baking is well underway. You’ve nailed your gingerbread recipe and mastered the orange and cranberry shortbread - now it’s time to make them look just as festive as they taste and smell. An edible Christmas tree, of course! This 10-piece cookie set is so easy to use and you’ll be amazed with the professional-looking results.

  • 17 best champagnes
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    The Independent

    17 best champagnes

    The UK has been the number one market for Champagne for many years according to Francoise Peretti, Director, Champagne Bureau UK. Food-wise, Champagne is pretty versatile. Champagne should be served well-chilled (between 8-10 degrees) and ideally in an elegant flute.

  • 18 best prosecco bottles
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    The Independent

    18 best prosecco bottles

    With prosecco having long-overtaken Champagne in the popularity stakes, at this time of year sales of the fizzy tipple are set to soar. In terms of quality, there is Prosecco DOC. Then there is Prosecco DOCG, a higher quality region where the fruit for the wine is grown on steep slopes between the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene.

  • 10 best Irish whiskies
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    The Independent

    10 best Irish whiskies

    Major League Baseball pitcher Tug McGraw once quipped, “Ninety percent I’ll spend on good times... and Irish Whiskey. The ancient tipple, inextricable from Irish culture, is enjoyed and venerated worldwide. Both historic yet forward-thinking and innovative, the Irish whiskey industry is very much alive and well.

  • 9 best cocktail making kits
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    The Independent

    9 best cocktail making kits

    ‘Tis the season to add some drama to your drinks. Beer and wine may be convenient to pour, but these handy cocktail kits make it super easy to whip up something extra special come cocktail o’clock. Impress your guests by having everything on hand to make their favourite tipple and practise your new found skills in the process.

  • 10 best foods for a healthy gut
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    The Independent

    10 best foods for a healthy gut

    From sourdough bread to sauerkraut and kimchi, fermented food is one of the hottest health trends right now. Foodies and health-conscious people alike are becoming increasingly aware of the role of our gut microbes – collectively known as our microbiome – in improving not only our digestive health but our overall wellbeing, including mental health. “The slow fermentation process involved preparing foods like sauerkraut and kimchi (usually raw cabbage or other vegetables, with salt and spices), and miso, allows time for a diverse population of healthy bacteria and enzymes to be produced,” explains Abbas Kanani, pharmacist at Chemist Click.