I spent much of last year wondering if the perennial liquor bans would catapult the de-alcoholised beverage business from an almost embarrassing obscurity to front of stage.

Suppliers undoubtedly experienced a mini-boom, if only because a number of imaginative and sleight-handed restaurateurs used their products as window-dressing (or perhaps fig leaves) while serving trusted patrons the more traditionally satisfying fruits of the harvest. There was certainly a time when you could sit down in quite reputable establishments and see some of the best known of the alcohol-free wines on the tables of diners far too joyous to be drinking from the bottles set before them...

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