What to drink when you’re not drinking
One of the things I was definitely not honest with myself about was how much wine I was drinking. I don’t think anyone I knew at the time was truly honest about it either. Like most of my peers, I was caught up in the crushing wave of ‘mommy wine culture’ marketing all around me and the normalization of binge drinking.
No one was talking about waking up hungover after our boozy afternoon playdates, which stretched into pizza and wine and then Netflix and wine. It felt like it was all fun and games. The turning point came when I realized I wasn’t having fun anymore. Drinking too much was getting boring and felt cringy.
After avoiding the reality of my increasing consumption for several years, I finally had to be honest with myself about whether alcohol was doing me any favours.
Although I never considered myself an alcoholic, never hit a ‘rock bottom’ moment and never relied on recovery programs, I was definitely a grey-area drinker — struggling to moderate, but not destroying my life.
Fortunately for women in this position now, there is an avalanche of information and communities and content out there to help navigate living a vibrant alcohol-free lifestyle, but in 2019/2020 when I chose this lifestyle, there were very few conversations happening around women and cutting back on drinking.
I read books, walked every day, meditated, journalled, found ways to relax without a glass of wine in my hand, and did every other possible thing I could to maintain my resolution to rethink drinking. I started to envision my life with nothing but sparkling water in my cup. It was a depressing thought.
For most of us, it’s hard to avoid the social and behavioural expectations that fun comes in a cup.
We’ve been conditioned since we were little to see grown-ups enjoying a drink to connect, relax, and socialize.
Without a glass of something in your hand, life can feel pretty lonely. Thankfully, I was not the only one to see there was a gap in the market for people looking for something to drink when they weren’t drinking.
In 2020, when I embarked on this challenge, the ‘adult’ options for non-alcoholic drinks included non-alcoholic beer and wine from the grocery store and a few select craft beers from Germany.
Looking across the pond, the picture from the U.K. was the total opposite. With dozens of non-alcoholic ‘spirits’ and alternatives available, they were already several years ahead of North America.
I became obsessed with finding things to drink here in Canada, and knew eventually our wellness-obsessed culture would catch up. I wasn’t wrong.
Earlier in my life, I had begun but never finished training to be a sommelier. In the non-alcoholic drinks space, I felt like there was a way I could use my knowledge even if I wasn’t drinking. I started writing and creating content for SomeGoodCleanFun.com in April 2021, to document my search for non-alcoholic options that didn’t suck.
I made my own mocktails with apple cider vinegar, ordered glycerin online to try and recreate the mouthfeel of real wine, and even considered growing my own hot peppers so I could extract the capsicum to recreate the burn of spirits.
I ordered every bottle of everything available and tested it and wrote about it. I
wanted the website to be a resource for anyone who was thinking, “what can I drink when I’m not drinking?” no matter what they loved to drink.
We’re almost at the three-year anniversary now, and it’s crazy to see that we get tens of thousands of page views a month. The ‘sober-curious’ lifestyle has taken off, with the democratization of health information around alcohol being a major catalyst for change.
People of all ages are looking for ways to reduce, remove, and replace what they are drinking. I couldn’t be happier, because I have found true joy, peace, and happiness being present and living an alcohol-free lifestyle.
Original alcohol-free cocktail recipes from Sarah Kate
Recipe #1: Low-Sugar Blackberry Fizz
This time of year, cutting out alcohol AND sugar is all the rage. Here’s a non-alcoholic cocktail that is alcohol-free and low-sugar, but full of flavour!
Ingredients for one:
- 4 blackberries
- 2 ½ oz Ceder’s distilled non-alcoholic spirit (Classic or Wild)
- 1 oz fresh-squeezed orange juice
- 1 basil leaf
- 3 oz blackberry Bubly sparkling water
- A few dashes of Peychaud’s bitters (or alcohol-free New Orleans bitters)
- Add the blackberries, orange juice, and torn basil leaf to the bottom of a glass, and muddle or crush gently with a wooden spoon.
- Add Ceder’s Wild.
- Add ice and stir gently to combine and chill.
- Top with blackberry sparkling water.
- Add a few dashes bitters on top, if using (optional).
- Garnish with a blackberry skewer.
Recipe #2: Non-Alcoholic Hugo Spritz
The Hugo Spritz took social media by storm this past year and we are big fans! The world was waiting for something new to obsess over, because the good old Aperol Spritz was getting kind of tired.
Our non-alcoholic version of this cocktail stars a German-produced, premium non-alcoholic sparkling white called Wander + Found Sparkling Cuvée Blanc. Wander + Found is produced in Germany in the famous wine region called the Rheingau.
The winery has been making precise non-alcoholic wines for over a decade. The Wander + Found Sparkling Cuvée Blanc has crisp and tart notes of green apple, lime, and fresh minerality, which makes this complex and elegant bubbly a perfect match for the floral and herbal elderflower syrup.
Ingredients for one:
- ½ oz elderflower syrup
- ¼ oz lime juice (just a touch!)
- 4-5 mint leaves
- 2 oz club soda, chilled
- 3 oz Wander + Found Sparkling Cuvée, chilled
- Add syrup and lime juice to the bottom of a stemless wine glass.
- Put the mint leaves in the palm of your hand and clap your hands together to ‘spank’ the mint; tear leaves in half and add to the glass.
- Stir gently to combine.
- Add ice.
- Add club soda and stir gently again.
- Top with chilled sparkling wine.
- Garnish with a lime wedge (or an elderflower sprig if you have one!).