Let’s face it, whether you’re at brunch, dinner or a night on the town, more often than not cocktails will be involved. For those people who are sober, prefer not to drink or just want a night off from the sauce, it hasn’t always been easy to find creative beverages that don’t include alcohol. Until now. With months like Sober October and Dry January, people are opting away from booze so mixologists are coming up with amazing mocktails and brands like Bella Hadid’s Kin Euphorics or Blake Lively’s Betty Buzz have released ready-to-drink non-alc drinks.
“These days, people are more aware of how alcohol impacts them, their brains, their bodies and their decisions too,” says Hilary Sheinbaum, the author of The Dry Challenge. “There’s more research and more data than ever before, and for younger generations who place an importance on their mental and physical health, drinking alcohol often doesn’t fit their vision and day-to-day lifestyle. People still like the ritual of happy hours and celebrating with a tasty beverage, but that doesn’t mean there has to be an alcoholic component to it. That’s where nonalcoholic spirits, cocktails, NA and alcohol removed wines and beers come in. Patrons can still congregate and socialize without getting buzzed or drunk (and feeling icky the next day).”
Dry challenges aren’t a replacement for AA/recovery programs or for people with AUD, but it helps people test out not drinking and see how the result makes them feel. Improved sleep, weight loss and saving money could all be results of giving your liver a month break. Below Sheinbaum, who has done her fair share of Sober Octobers, seven years of Dry January and plenty of other months, explains more about why you could benefit. (She also includes some of her go-tos for alcohol-free days.)
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What is Sober October?
“Sober October is the act of giving up all forms of alcohol – wine, beer, spirits, cocktails, shots – for 31 days of the 10th month of the year. Sober October really started as ‘Ocsober’ in Australia about a decade ago as a fundraiser for a youth health organization. Since then, it has grown in popularity and clearly made its way to the US.”
Why Sober October specifically?
“October is a great month for abstaining from alcohol because it falls between a time when people are back from their summer vacations and catching up with friends in September and right before the holidays, specifically Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve when people tend to be more liberal with their libations. In short: it’s the perfect time to scale back from booze before things roll into holiday party season.”
Is this different from Dry January?
“Dry January started in the United Kingdom in 2013 with about 4,000 people. Dry January has the same premise as Sober October – no alcohol for 31 days – but Dry January is a bit more popular than Sober October. At the beginning of each year, people are looking for a fresh start. People often cite ‘eating healthier’ or ‘losing weight’ as their New Year's resolutions and cutting out alcohol can certainly help some people accomplish these goals. According to a study by the University of Sussex, Dry January participants often drink less in the months that follow. So while you are giving your liver a break, you’re actually teaching your body new habits, too.”
What are the health benefits of doing Sober October or any month off from drinking?
“Other than giving your liver a break, the health benefits of doing a dry month are endless. By abstaining from alcohol, you’re cutting out empty calories, meaning there's the potential to lose weight. Alcohol is also really, really bad for your sleep, so chances are you’re going to sleep through the night without interruption (or having to use the restroom). Alcohol is a depressant and can cause bouts of hangxiety, so without it, you may find that your mood is more elevated and you have more energy. Additionally, zero drinks equals zero hangovers, so if you’re planning on going to the gym in the morning or having a productive day, not consuming alcohol is best. And financial wealth is financial health. In other words, when you aren’t drinking, you aren’t spending money on alcohol (you can save it to spend on other things). So, there’s that, too!”
Can someone really see or feel an improvement in 30 days?
“Yes! During my first Dry January, I was surprised to find that my sleep greatly improved within the first 10-14 days. During the previous month (and months prior) I got about 4-5 hours of sleep, which I thought was normal for me due to my busy job and city lifestyle. Come to find, without alcohol, I slept 7-8 hours a night. And that was just the beginning! My skin was more glowy, rather than feeling dry in the dead of winter. I also felt happier/less gloomy and had much more energy. I didn’t lose weight, but that’s probably because I replaced alcoholic beverages with ice cream.”
After Sober October, what happens once it’s over?
“Definitely drink slowly, eat a meal beforehand and drink water in between sips. Figure out how you’re getting home safely. Your tolerance is not going to be where it was a month prior, so it’s important to consider these tips and plan ahead. Also, if you don’t want to drink after 30 days or 40 days or beyond (or ever again), you don’t have to!”
What non-alc brands do you recommend?
“Right now, I’m loving De Soi NA Aperitifs (they come in large bottles for sharing but also cans for single servings!), Lyre's canned N.A. cocktails, and Betera (bottles). There are also a number of non-alc wines that you simply pour – Starla, Wander + Found and Freixenet alc-removed. Sometimes it’s easiest just to pop open a can or bottle if you’re not feeling like mixing, muddling, shaking and stirring.”
If you do want to make your own, try these mocktails:
- 1.5 oz The Free Spirits Company - The Spirit of Milano
- 1.5 oz The Free Spirits Company - The Spirit of Gin
- 1.5 oz tonic water
- orange peel
In a rocks glass, build the cocktail over ice. Stir.
Garnish with a twist of orange.
Pour Cuvée Blanc or Rosé over ice. Add club soda or your favorite sparkling water. Add a citrus or fruit garnish for a fun and classy cocktail.
- De Soi Purple Lune (Purple Lune is a full-bodied apéritif made with ashwagandha and tart cherry)
- 1 peach slice
- 1 blackberry
Pour Purple Lune into a pretty glass (your choice!). Garnish with a slice of peach and a blackberry.