January 13, 2022 @ 4:00pm
I quit drinking in 2007 because I was on a fast track to total destruction. I had only just turned 24 and my life felt over without the so-called magic elixir of alcohol (so dramatic, I know). But I had to stop, even if it seemed impossible. I didn’t have a road map or guide — Dry January didn’t start in the U.K. until 2011 and didn’t hit the American mainstream until a few years ago.
All I knew was that I had to change.
It didn’t happen overnight and it wasn’t always easy, but the decision to get sober was the most solid and beautiful choice I’ve ever made. I vowed to help light the path for others who want to get sober-serious or sober-curious, and to give them resources and options that weren’t available to me at the start of my journey.
Maybe this is your first “dry” month or you routinely take breaks from the booze. Or, maybe you have a family member or close friend who doesn’t drink much (or at all) and you want to alternate between, well, leaded and unleaded bevs. However you find yourself, you’re here and you want to know what the heck everyone is talking about when they utter words like sober-curious, mindful drinking or Dry January.
From a glossary of terms and a roundup of local and national heroes to lists of books, bottle shops and bars (without the booze, of course), consider this your sober-curious 101.
Sober-Curious: A term coined by Ruby Warrington; curiosity about how and if alcohol serves one’s life anymore; cutting back or cutting out booze due to health/wellness reasons; questioning alcohol culture; being a scientist in one’s life and experimenting with nonalcoholic beverages as a replacement for boozy ones to see how one feels in body, mind and spirit.
Mindful Drinking: Paying attention to the amount of alcohol consumed; being intentional, curious, and mindful about reasons why we drink; can result in experimenting with sobriety for a period of time.
Dry January: A one-month alcohol-free challenge started in the U.K. by nonprofit Alcohol Change UK in 2011 that has since grown to a global movement for people who want to start their year with a healthy reset.
Top Sober-Curious Books
1. “Sober-curious: The Blissful Sleep, Greater Focus, Limitless Presence, and Deep Connection Awaiting Us All on the Other Side of Alcohol” by Ruby Warrington
2. “The Sober Lush: A Hedonist’s Guide to Living a Decadent, Adventurous, Soulful Life — Alcohol Free” by Jardine Libaire + Amanda Eyre Ward
3. “The Dry Challenge: How to Lose the Booze for Dry January, Sober October, and Any Other Alcohol-Free Month” by Hilary Sheinbaum
4. “Quit Like a Woman: The Radical Choice to Not Drink in a Culture Obsessed with Alcohol” by Holly Whitaker
5. “This Naked Mind: Control Alcohol, Find Freedom, Discover Happiness, and Change Your Life” by Annie Grace
6. “How to Be a Mindful Drinker: Cut Down, Take a Break, or Quit” by Dru Jaegar, Anja Madhvani, Laura Willoughby + Jussi Tolvi
There are hundreds more (Sarah Hepola, Laura McKowen, Augusten Burroughs, Mishka Shubaly, Catherine Grey, Anna David are phenomenal writers) but this is just to give you a taste of what’s out there.
Top Low- or No-Alcohol Recipe Books
1. “All Day Cocktails: Low (and No) Alcohol Magic” by Shaun Byrne + Nick Tesar
2. “Good Drinks: Alcohol-Free Recipes for When You’re Not Drinking for Whatever Reason” by Julia Bainbridge
3. “Mindful Mixology: A Comprehensive Guide to No and Low Alcohol Cocktails” by D.C.’s own Derek Brown (coming January 18)
4. “Mocktail Party: 75 Plant-Based, Non-Alcoholic Mocktail Recipes for Every Occasion” by Diana Licalzi, MS, RD, CDE + Kerry Benson, MS, RD, LDN
5. “Zero Proof Drinks and More: 100 Recipes for Mocktails and Low-Alcohol Cocktails” by Maureen Petrosky
6. “Zero Proof: 90 Non-Alcoholic Recipes for Mindful Drinking” by Elva Ramirez
Booze-Free Bars in the U.S. + Beyond
Coast Dry Bar in Chicago, Illinois: coastdrybar.com // @coastdrybar
Getaway Bar in New York City: thegetawaypgh.com // @getawaybar
Listen Bar in New York City: listen.bar // @listenbar
Ocean Beach Cafe in San Francisco, California: oceanbeachcafe.com // @oceanbeachcafe
Sans Bar in Austin, Texas (original) + St. Louis, Missouri: thesansbar.com // @sans_bar
Booze-Free Bottle Shops To Order From
Alena Botanica: alenabotanica.com // @alenabotanica
Better Rhodes: betterrhodes.com// @betterrhodes
Boisson NYC: boisson.nyc.com // @boisson.nyc
Drink No and Low: drinknolow.com // @drinknolow
The Open Road Bar + Bottle Shop: openroadbarpgh.com
Sechey: sechey.com // @shopsechy
The Zero Proof: thezeroproof.com // @thezeroproof
And with all the bottle shops that are brick and mortar only (Sipple, Spirited Away, etc.), this category is zooming full speed ahead. Coming along for the ride?
D.C.’s Local Heroes of the Sober-Curious World
Ashish Alfred, booze-free chef and founder of Duck Duck Goose (D.C., Bethesda, Baltimore): @chefashishalfred
Gigi Arandid, founder of Binge Bar, D.C.’s first booze-free bar (opening 2022): @__bingebar__ // @bingeongigi
Maria Bastasch, founder of Disco Mary and beverage director at Maydan and Compass Rose: @findingdiscomary
Derek Brown, founder of Columbia Room + Drink Company and author: @ideasimprove // @columbiaroom
Sam Kasten, founder of Umbrella Dry Drinks, Alexandria’s first booze-free bar (opening 2022): @umbrelladrydrinks
Lauren Paylor, founder of Focus on Health, trainer at Safe Bars, and R+D at Silver Lyan: @lpdrinksdc
Anna Welker, mixologist/bar manager at Hotel Revival in Baltimore and inspiration for Hyatt’s new Zero Proof, Zero Judgment menus across the country: @annavonshans
Follow more of these local sober-curious-friendly IG accounts:
Mike Shipp + Emily Pazdernik, Athletic Brewing: @dmvwithoutcompromise
Vera Rosenthal: @mission_mocktail
Meredith Raimondi: @teetotalingdc
Chris Riley + Tyler Barker: @thenahappyhour
Laura Silverman: @zeroproofnation
National/International Heroes of the Sober-Curious World
Shea Gomez, founder of No Booze Babes: @noboozebabes
Mille Gooch, founder of Sober Girl Society: @sobergirlsociety
Annie Grace, author: @thisnakedmind
Chris Marshall, founder of Sans Bar: @sans_bar
Khadi Olagoke, founder of Sober Black Girls Club: @soberblackgirlsclub
Ruby Warrington, author: @rubywarrington
Holly Whitaker, founder of Tempest and author: @holly + @jointempest
Laura Willoughby, Dru Jaeger + Jussi Tolvi, co-founders of Club Soda: @joinclubsoda
We’d love to see what kind of fun alcohol-free drinks you create/find or any self-discoveries you make this month. Feel free to tag @boozefreeindc so we can join you in #DryJanuary and beyond.
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