Why not drinking is the hottest trend in drinking – Morning Journal

Look around at the next cocktail party and count ten guests. According to a Gallup Poll released in August, four of them don’t drink, and an increasing number would like to drink less or give up booze entirely.

Welcome to Dry January, when the latest trend in drinking is not drinking.

Sure, we over indulged during the pandemic — a 2021 survey of 1,500 Americans across the U.S. by Roasty Coffee revealed that 37% admitted to adding alcohol to their coffee at least once during work hours.

But we’re shifting back to cutting back: Nonprofit international research data and analytics group YouGovAmerica found that 15% of 15,000 Americans surveyed in December planned to quit drinking for a month in January, up 5% from last year.

These aren’t admitted alcoholics vowing to stop forever, but a growing number of casual and social drinkers, dubbed the “sober curious” by New York writer Ruby Warrington, in her 2018 book “The Sober Curious Reset.”

It seems everywhere you look the trend is catching on:

According to business data platform Statista, revenue in the non-alcoholic drinks market amounted to more than $414 million and is expected to grow annually by about 5% through 2026.

More apps and programs for cutting back or quitting are available online, including Sunnyside, Reframe and 7 Days to Drink Less.

An increasing number of restaurants are offering mocktails, including national chains such as Tommy Bahama and The Cheesecake Factory.

Self-help books for those who want to cut down entirely or simply take a break continue to proliferate.

It’s not just the hard stuff that Americans are ditching. It’s beer and wine too. More craft brewers, including Golden Road and Lagunitas, are offering non-alcoholic beers in their lineups, and several, such as Partake Brewing, Athletic Brewing Co, and Bravus, only make non-alcoholic beer.

As for nonalcoholic wine sales, they accounted for more than $1.6 billion in 2021, according to market research website Fact.MR.com, and the market is expected to balloon to $4.5 billion by 2031.

Anika Sawni says the sober curious trend is driving huge increases in business for her Colorado-based company, Grüvi, which she co-founded in Toronto with her brother Niki Sawni in 2019. Sales have increased more than 400% over the last 12 months.

“Before it was like either I’m sober or I’m drinking.There was no middle ground for people that maybe didn’t love alcohol and were looking for an alternative, but they also weren’t completely sober or aren’t coming from a recovery space,” said Sawni, who was selected for the 2022 Forbes 30 Under 30 list.

The sober curious term has created “a more mindful” relationship with alcohol, Sawni said. “It’s driven in part by a lot of the younger generations, Gen Z and millennials, looking for alternatives and wanting to experience all of life’s social settings and not have to feel the pressure (when) surrounded by alcohol in restaurants and bars.”

Grüvi’s customers break down about 50/50 between those who have made the decision to go alcohol free and those who still drink but just want to cut back and are looking for an alternative to fit into their lifestyle.

Aiming to entice those who already have a taste for premium wines and craft beer, Grüvi doesn’t use one particular method to create its non-alcoholic products. Instead, each is developed with a mission of enhancing the flavors of that particular beer or wine.

“For us, that means using the best technologies that are available for the style of beer and wine that we’re producing,” Sawni said.

The products are made in Canada, Colorado and California. Grüvi sells Red Blend, Rosé and Dry Secco (non-alcohol wines) and IPA, Weisse, Pale Ale, Stout, Lager and Peach Pie Ale (non-alchohol beers), in 1,500 major retail locations across the U.S., Canada and Australia. In California, look for Grüvi products at BevMo! and Total Wine & More. The wines and beers can be enjoyed on their own or used to mix mocktails.

Dylan Dinsmore, who has worked at Slater’s 50/50, Del Frisco’s and CdM, will now head up the beverage program at Solstice in Irvine when it opens in February. He says the mocktails trend has taken hold in restaurants too.

“It’s grown and it’s kind of crazy now. Five years ago, you’d be hard pressed to find the zero proof venue at a restaurant,” Dinsmore said. “But now it’s seems every other restaurant you go to has a zero proof section. So it’s pretty cool to see.”

Customers request mocktails because they’re bored with sodas.

“They want to have that same experience that the person they’re with is having with a craft cocktail. So having a zero proof program opens that up to those who can’t drink or won’t drink,” he said.

At Solstice, a progressive restaurant which touts the benefits of eating according to the seasons, Dinsmore will pour an extensive “Zero-Proof Un-Cocktail” selection, using aloe juice as the liquor substitution. He strives to develop recipes that are satisfying without spirits.

“You want to make sure that it has an earthy tone, that it’s sweet but (also) sour, it’s refreshing, it’s light,” he said. “You want to make it an experience.”

Experts are jumping in with new recipes. Where there were once only a few mocktails thrown into cocktail books, now there are entire publications on the art of making low- and no-alcohol drinks.

Natasha David’s “Drink Lightly: A Lighter Take on Serious Cocktails,” due to be released by Clarkson Potter on April 5, has a sexy, colorful neo-disco design and a fresh attitude. The craft cocktail veteran, who co-founded New York City’s Nitecap bar in 2014, has gathered more than 100 recipes.

“You may see white port take the place of bourbon in an Old-Fashioned-esque recipe or vermouth in place of tequila in a margarita-like refresher,” she writes about her lighter approach. “Although our gins, whiskeys, tequilas and rums are accustomed to taking center stage with hefty two-ounce pours, you’ll see them used in smaller measures as a tool to make their low-ABV friends shine,” she writes.

Raised in Germany, David thinks that drinking culture is different in the U.S. than it is in other parts of the world.

“I think that we’re brainwashed into thinking that the person who’s the most drunk has had the best time at the crazy college party,” she said in a telephone  interview. “But at the end of the day, nobody likes being hung over. Nobody thinks it’s cute or funny.”

A study which appeared in the journal Addiction in June 2021 bears out her theory. Europeans from 21 countries — except for Brits — drank less than Americans during the first few months of the pandemic. Her recipes aim for balance, and she says higher proof ingredients don’t add as much flavor as juices, bitters, syrups and liqueurs.

She’s also an advocate of socializing when imbibing. Rehab websites warn that solitary drinking can lead to excessive indulging and David says lighter cocktails encourage camaraderie. “With a spritz or something lighter, I can have a couple and enjoy them over a longer time,” she said. “It can be a longer dinner or a longer outing. Everything can be elongated and become more social.”

The social aspect is a recurring theme of the sober curious movement, which isn’t just about the health benefits of putting less alcohol in your body. It’s about reframing how drinking fits or doesn’t fit into your lifestyle.

One of the latest books on the subject, “Euphoric: Ditch Alcohol and Gain a Happier, More Confident You,” by alcohol-free life coach and Orange County native Karolina Rzadkowolska, helps casual drinkers re-evaluate the role of alcohol in their lives and face ways it might be holding them back, not just physically but mentally. Quitting or even cutting back temporarily was a life changer for her and it can be for many who give it  a try, she said.

“I have so many clients who have the same exact story. I changed their relationship with alcohol and they get the promotions that they want in their jobs. Or they quit their jobs and start new companies,” she said.

“They travel around the world. They launch a nonprofit, they write a book — it’s like this sense of purpose comes running back to them and they feel like they have all of the tools and the confidence within them to actually achieve those dreams and goals.”

More cutback seasons are popping up throughout the year, she said, such as “Sober October,” “Dry July” and “No Drinking November.” Rzadkowolska says seasonal quitting removes “all or nothing” thinking. A simple break isn’t forever but it might be enough time for a sober curious candidate to find out a lot about themselves.

She compares it to someone bringing you a suitor and asking you to commit to marriage when you don’t even know that person. Rzadkowolska suggests simply giving it a casual try.

“Let yourself just go on the first date. And the first date is a break from alcohol and you can approach it with this really curious, experimental lens,” she said. “If you’ve had alcohol in your life since you were a teenager or in college or whenever you started drinking as an adult, you might not even know what you feel like without it in your life as a constant presence.”



“Euphoric: Ditch Alcohol and Gain a Happier, More Confident You”

Author: Karolina Rzadkowolska

Publisher: HarperHorizon

Price: $27.99

“Drink Lightly: A Lighter Take on Serious Cocktails”

Author: Natasha David

Publisher: Clarkson Potter, release date April 5

Price: $25

Recommended nonalcoholic sips

Bravus Amber Ale: Medium caramel in color, this thirst-quenching brew is true to its category. It’s malty and yeasty with a dry, hoppy finish. Price: $7.99 per four pack. Available at Total Wine & More.

Thomson & Scott, Organic Sparkling Chardonnay: Refreshing and Champagne-like, this sparkler has notes of apple and citrus. It’s made from 100 percent chardonnay grapes grown in Spain.  Price: $19. Available online at sampsonfamilywines.com.


Solstice’s Fig Thyme SpritzMakes one mocktail

2 ounces fig thyme shrub (see recipe below)

Sparkling water

Procedure: Add the fig thyme shrub to a collins glass. Add ice and fill the glass with sparkling water. Slightly stir to incorporate the fig thyme shrub and the sparkling water. Garnish with fresh fig and a thyme sprig.

Fig Thyme Shrub

6 ounces granulated sugar

15 ounces fresh black mission figs, sliced

8 ounces Braggs apple cider vinegar

10 thyme sprigs

Procedure: Combine all ingredients into a mason jar and shake. Allow the mixture to sit in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Shake at least one more time and strain out the solids. Bottle and refrigerate the shrub. Makes 1 1/2 cups.

Source: Dylan Dinsmore, bar manager at Solstice

Suze and Elderflower Tonic

Makes one reduced alcohol cocktail

2 ounces Suze aperitif

4 ounces Fever Tree Elderflower Tonic Water

Procedure: In a highball glass over cubed ice, build the Suze and elderflower tonic. Gently stir to incorporate. Garnish with a lemon wedge. Serve with a straw.

Source:  “Drink Lightly: A Lighter Take on Serious Cocktails”

En Vogue

Makes one reduced alcohol cocktail

2 ounces full-bodied red wine

1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice

1/2 ounce crème de cassis

1/2 ounce simple syrup

1/4 ounce green chartreuse

Procedure: Combine the red wine, lemon juice, crème de cassis, syrup and chartreuse in a shaker. Add ice and give it a short shake. Strain into a wineglass over cubed ice. Garnish with brandied cherries.

Source:  “Drink Lightly: A Lighter Take on Serious Cocktails”


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