Our first conversation was coming to an end, “I’m really looking forward to meeting you,” he said in his gruff New York accent, “Oh, but there is one more thing,” he paused with hesitation knowing the standard response he gets, “I don’t drink.”
“That’s no problem,” I kindly said, but didn’t mean it. Based on the small amount I know of this man who I met through a dating website, he definitely wasn’t sustaining for religious reasons, so he must be an alcoholic.
The assumptions start immediately, he’s boring, he’s had a hard life (that probably has some financial and social residue attached), he might be on a soap box about it or critical of the fact that I loved my wine and tequila, but hey, it’s just one date.
Within the first hour, he proved most of my prejudices wrong, but I was nervous and needed a drink, and alcohol was a quick solution. In proving to me that he was fine with my drinking he brought me to a bar where I quickly downed a shot of tequila followed by our first kiss.
Our love progressed quickly and we were inseparable. Because we were so active, I found myself drinking less and less, going days without a drink. One evening we had some friends over for dinner and I brought out some wine. I had a couple of glasses and woke up the next morning feeling horrible. My face was puffy and my head hurt. That moment was the beginning of the end.
I never decided to stop drinking, but I accepted the fact that I didn’t need to drink. I didn’t make a declaration and actually tried to downplay it with my friends….almost embarrassed.
The longer I went, the better I felt. My face looked different and I lost weight. I would giggle at our restaurant bill at the end of the night that didn’t include four $15 martinis or $60 bottles of wine. My energy level skyrocketed and I enjoyed possibly the best health of my life. I decided not to label myself fully abstaining from alcohol. That seem unnecessarily harsh. As a foodie, I have no issue passing up hard liquor, but a sensational bottle of wine that was opened for guests, deserved a half of a glass and typically that only surfaced about once a month.
Through it all, the most difficult part of the transition was related to the ritual. I learned from my father that cocktail hour was the best time of day. It was certainly the best time to ask him for things. Our society places great emphasis on the cross over from the end of the work day to play time. It’s as if that drink is our reward for a job well done. THAT is what I struggled with the most. I missed that symbolism.
Enter my world of Mocktails. A term that is growing as the emerging generation of drinkers is well….not drinking and causing concern to alcohol companies. Studies show that my children’s generation are consuming far less alcohol for a variety of reasons including more non-alcohol based activities, the love of coffee/tea houses, the increased use of fermented beverages such as kombucha and kefir, and the legal use of marijuana.
I love Mocktails and enjoy creating them. As a person who limits her sugar intake and for the most part only drinks water, having a celebratory drink in a pretty glass fulfills the void. The trick is to make the beverage unique enough so that it still holds it ritualistic component of a day well done.
I will be posting Mocktail recipes in the upcoming months and look forward to toasting to our happy livers!