Make friends with sober: How to connect with people without alcohol

Choosing to be alcohol-free no longer means you’ve signed up to sit home alone drinking tea.


 

I have a confession to make, I don’t love drinking.

I’ve never been a big drinker. While I drank plenty—in college, when I studied abroad, in my twenties—most of the time, I didn’t like. it. I didn’t like how it made me feel. I’d get these weird aches in my shoulders. Hilariously, I used to judge if I was drunk or not based on whether I could feel my teeth. But I just didn’t want to feel left out, and at that time not drinking did not feel like an option.

That said, I’m not teetotal. I like a good cocktail now and again. I’d like to say I am a mindful drinker but that sounds a lot more considered than it really is. Sometimes I hesitate to have a drink—is not drinking an option when you’re meeting someone for a drink? Other times, with friends, it’s easier to say “yes” than “no.” It’s like there’s an unwritten rule that alcohol is the key ingredient in celebrating, unwinding and bringing people together—the life and soul of a party. But the truth is we don’t need alcohol to connect with others.

Over the past year, I’ve been more aware of my relationship with alcohol and I’ve noticed that the more I politely decline, the more I hear things like, “I did Dry January” or “My partner’s not drinking at the moment” or “Yeah, I was just reading how younger people aren’t drinking—can you believe that?” Don’t get me wrong, I still hear, “Oh come on” and “Just have one” or the worst, “Let’s go for a cheeky half,” but things are changing.

Research shows that we’re getting smarter about drinking. Alcohol consumption in the UK fell 26% between 2002 and 2012, according to government statistics. After 257 years in the spirits and beer business, Diageo made its first investment in a non-alcoholic drinks company, Seedlip. Indian restaurant chain Dishoom has created a completely sober menu for patrons “wanting to drink less, less often, or not at all.”

The truth is we don’t need alcohol to connect with others.
Choosing to be alcohol-free no longer means you’ve signed up to sit home alone drinking tea. There are more and more products, services and communities that’ll make you feel seen and included—like you’re not missing out, not an afterthought, and you can still be good company.  

Drink and be merry (and sober)

These days, there are loads of alcohol-free beers, wines, spirits and cocktails on offer. The Mindful Drinking Festival is a fun event that brings many of these options together in one place to experience what alcohol-free can taste like. If you’d prefer to try these new flavours in the comfort of your own home, Wisebartender offers a huge selection of alcohol-free beverages. And if you are a keen bartender, check out Marnie Rae’s website where you can find incredible and flavourful recipes for soft cocktails.

There are a growing number of alcohol-free places to party, too. You may be surprised to hear there’s a burgeoning sober rave and dance scene that thrives on alcohol-free good vibes. You can dance your sober socks off with Morning Gloryville, who claim to be the original morning dance party and the pioneers responsible for bringing conscious clubbing to the world stage. Or there’s the woman-owned Day Breaker to help you start your day with energy and intention. If you prefer a Saturday night out, check out Rise and Shine Parties.

You may be surprised to hear there’s a burgeoning sober rave and dance scene that thrives on alcohol-free good vibes.
Hosts of the Mindful Drinking Festival, Club Soda imagines “a world where nobody has to feel out of place if they are not drinking.” It offers a supportive online community, personal goal-setting tools, drinks reviews and a pub and bar guide. One Year No Beer leads challenges designed to help people change their relationship with alcohol. Soberistas is a worldwide community of friendly, non-judgmental people all helping each other kick the booze and stay sober.

Both me and my business partner Lucy have close loved ones who could have used these alcohol-free alternatives and communities. That’s why we set up We Are In Good Company. Wanting to mark and celebrate sober milestones, we set out on a mission to make space for sober with cards and gifts that support, encourage and celebrate living without alcohol.

connect without alcohol

Yes, things are changing. But not drinking can still sometimes feel lonely and isolating. So, if you know someone breaking off their relationship with alcohol, for whatever reason, don’t question them—show support, encouragement and admiration. Rather than ask, “Why?” maybe try, “Right on!” If you’re throwing a party, don’t forget to put the ingredients for a fun mocktail or two on your shopping list. I recommend the Ginger Pear Perfection or Seedlip’s Lemon Grove.

While you’re at it, maybe think about your own relationship with alcohol. Is it healthy or harmful? Is there anything you want to change? If so, what’s stopping you?

And if you’ve already put a lid on the booze juice, right on! You’re in good company.

 

Follow Sara on Instagram at @weareingoodco.

Photo credit: Joe NewmanKaizen Nguyễn (header)