When we think about Memorial Day, barbeques, outdoor activities, and quality time with family and friends come to mind. Many summer holidays contain similar activities, but one thing that seems to always be around is alcohol. Our society tends to forget that there is a large number of people who chose not to drink alcoholic beverages for religious reasons, health reasons, pregnancy, or those who just prefer a sober life. Individuals who live alcohol-free lives may feel pressured or isolated. Just like any other day, holidays are an important time for inclusion. There are many ways to support your sober living family, friends, and guests. One way to show support is by offering mocktails at your events.
Nat is a mocktail recipe blogger who just celebrated her one year of sobriety. Her Instagram and website center around easy mocktails, alcohol-free recommendations, and sobriety inspiration. She is a thought leader and a trailblazer in the sober living space. “I’m passionate about making an alcohol-free life exciting and appealing.”
What prompted you to begin a sober living journey?
Nat: I identified alcohol was becoming a problem for me back in January 2020. In all honesty, my gut had been telling me that my relationship with alcohol was unhealthy for a long time. There was always this inner voice saying to me….something is not right here. I liked it a little too much. So in January 2020, I completed a 30-day alcohol-free challenge and took the time to educate myself on alcohol and its body and mind.
During that time, I realized that most of the core beliefs I had around alcohol (such as being a great stress reliever and needing it to have fun) were utterly false. I drank on and off until April 2020, when I decided to stop one day and haven’t had a drink since. A whole new world has opened up for me since I stopped drinking alcohol. I am happier, more productive, and motivated; I can think clearly and am far less anxious. My relationships have improved, and I am so proud that my boys will grow up knowing it’s normal to drink away bad days and problems.
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, life is still life, and there are still plenty of challenges and rough days, but I find them much easier to deal with without hangovers. I’ve heard an alcohol-free life described as living life in high definition – I can vouch for that!
What inspired you to create an Instagram dedicated to mocktails and sober living?
Nat: After I completed my alcohol-free month, my husband and I went away for a kid-free weekend. For the first time, I decided not to drink on the weekend away. When we went to bars and restaurants, we noticed the very poor choices available to people who don’t drink alcohol. Some places didn’t even have one non-alcoholic drink on their menu!
Initially, I started my Instagram account to give credit to restaurants that catered for alcohol-free individuals well. But then Covid hit, and that idea went out the window! When we were in lockdown, I desperately missed the ceremony of pouring a drink as a ‘treat’ for myself at the end of the day. So I started making mocktails at home using fresh fruit and vegetables and herbs from my garden. I shared the recipes with friends and got a great response.
That’s when I started sharing them on Instagram! I also shared personal stories about why I stopped drinking and received messages from women worldwide saying how much they resonated with my account. That’s when I knew I had to keep creating mocktails and telling my story – and the rest is history!
Christina is a personal blogger on a sober living and mental health journey. She is a writer, a speaker, and a thought leader in the heavy living space. Her Instagram and website speak to those who may be struggling and need a person who can relate to them. Christina is also the host of the Instagram account @1000hoursdry, a community organization for military members, veterans, and their families. The organization promotes alcohol-free and alcohol-curious lifestyles.
What prompted you to begin a sober living journey?
Christina: In January 2020, I hit a personal low when I stayed out all night drinking and showed up to a new job intoxicated. I then went on to binge drink for two days straight. That was my “bathroom floor” moment. I lived in Virginia and decided to move back to Cleveland, Ohio, to get sober. I did just that! I entered intensive outpatient therapy for eight weeks and finished right before COVID hit.
There aren’t enough adequate words to describe how much my life is better now that I’m sober. Everything improved my relationships, my physical and mental health, and my finances. I took the last year to do some deep healing work I needed. As a child, I experienced abuse, witnessed domestic violence, and grew up in a strict evangelical household. I had never taken the time to process all that had happened to me. Getting sober forced me to find ways to cope with my pain without numbing.
Why you should offer mocktails at your events
Everyone seeks inclusion when hosting events; offering mocktails and non-alcoholic drinks are doing just that. It is essential to think of all your guests while planning an event. Sodas, water, or juice may not appeal to those who do not drink alcohol. Regardless, it is always essential to ask your friends what drinks they would like to be available to them!
How can people support their sober loved ones during holidays like Memorial Day? Do you believe offering mocktails and non-alcoholic drinks at these events is a way to show support?
Nat: It’s a challenging time to be sober. The critical factor here is to be inclusive and cater to everyone, not just people who drink. I particularly love it when my friends contact me prior to an event and ask what they can buy for me so that I can have a special drink too. Some people are uncomfortable with drinks designed to replicate alcohol (e.g., non-alcoholic wine or beer), so it’s always best to ask first.
So yes, the most supportive thing to do is ask!
Christina: Offering mocktails and non-alcoholic drinks are one of the best ways to show support! I’d also say that if you offer someone an alcoholic beverage and decline, support their decision. Don’t say things like, “come on, just have one,” this can be very harmful. If you’re up for it, try a mocktail or alcohol-free drink with your friend or loved one. My best friend always tries a new mocktail with me when we are out, and it’s so fun to share that experience with her, and I feel less alone. If you’re supporting a sober person, it’s also beneficial to be mindful of how much you are drinking when around them. I have no problem being around my friends if they are drinking, but if they get too drunk, that can trigger.
Why businesses should offer mocktails
Offering mocktails at your restaurant or bar has many benefits. Firstly, you are openly inviting sober living guests to your business. You convey a message that their experience is just as important to you as it is to them. Offering a separate section or alcohol-free drink list can reassure those guests that the space is inclusive. Also, asking your guests to drink alcohol before recommending drinks allows you to recommend mocktails to sober living guests.
Secondly, if your business worries about losing money in mocktails, offering the beverages has the opposite effect; many people who refrain from ordering alcoholic drinks may resort to water. When submitting a mocktail option, you generate more sales while creating a more inclusive environment (win-win!). Many sober living communities feature restaurants and bars that offer mocktails. If you are supported by these communities just like you support them, you could bring in a new community of guests!
Do you think when restaurants offer mocktails, it helps people who do not drink alcohol feel included/ supported?
Nat: Yes! To be honest, I refuse to go to venues now that do not have an inclusive alcohol-free menu. I always check the drink menu first, and if they only have soft drinks and juice, I will contact them ahead of time and ask to bring my own non-alcoholic wine. I haven’t been refused yet! I love going to a restaurant and seeing a decent alcohol-free menu where some thought has been put into what is on it.
Christina: Yes, absolutely. I’m so grateful when restaurants offer mocktails! I get tired of drinking water or soda. It’s so lovely to be able to have other options. I believe that many people are choosing to become sober, or at least straight curious, and it’s so amazing to have those options!
Summer Mocktail Recipe from The Mindful Mocktail:
- 1 cup diced watermelon
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 10 mint leaves
- 125 mls soda water or kombucha (optional)
- Dash apple cider vinegar (optional)
- Muddle watermelon, lime, and apple cider vinegar (optional) in a shaker or mason jar until all the juice is released from the watermelon.
- Clap the mint leaves together in your hands to release the scent and add it to the watermelon mixture.
- Add a few ice cubes, replace the lid and shake well.
- Strain into an ice-filled glass.
- Garnish with a lime wheel and extra mint.
- Use half the watermelon mixture to make the sparkling version, then top with soda water or kombucha.
Happy Memorial Day from CADA. We want to thank every Veteran and Military member for their service. Thank you to the families of those Veterans and Military members as well.
We want to highlight Christina’s “The Dry Club” once again. This organization supports Veterans, Military members, and their families who wish to live alcohol-free or curious lifestyles. Her program is essential, as statistics show that 65% of Veterans admitted to a treatment center misuse alcohol frequently. That is double what the general population has reported.
We want to thank Nat and Christina for their contributions. If you live an alcohol-free lifestyle, what does it mean to you when restaurants provide an alcohol-free drink list? Will you be trying new mocktail recipes this summer? Let us know in the comments and on our Instagram @cada_culture
While you’re here, check out our other blogs and let us know your thoughts!