ARE you doing Dry January? Maybe you’ve made a resolution to cut down on the booze or go cold turkey entirely. Or perhaps two weeks of wine, cocktails, Baileys, sherry and gin — along with the accompanying hangovers — have made you reconsider your relationship with alcohol altogether.
Whatever the story, if you’re thinking about breaking up with the bottle, you’re not the only one. Drinking rates are at the lowest they’ve been in 18 years, a quarter of 11- to 24-year-olds don’t drink at all and more of us than ever before are taking part in Dry January.
Add in the fact that when supermarket Whole Foods compiled its food and drink trends for 2020, topping the list was alcohol-free drinks, and you can see the direction things are going.
Should you need any dry inspiration you’re in luck because the latest genre dominating the book bestseller lists is ‘quit lit’.
Published last year were How To Be Sober And Keep Your Friends by Flic Everett, Simon Chapple’s The Sober Survival Guide, How To Be A Mindful Drinker by Laura Willoughby and Quit Like A Woman by Holly Whitaker, while this week Laura McKeown’s We Are The Luckiest: The Surprising Magic Of A Sober Life hit the shelves.
All are a combination of memoir and self-help guide aimed at anyone who might be wanting to quit or cut down their alcohol intake — because this isn’t just about people who have a problem with booze, it’s about a re-evaluation of how we interact with it.
‘I think a lot people have been quietly questioning their drinking habits for a very long time,’ says Ruby Warrington, author of Sober Curious. ‘I think they’ve been craving stories that help them reflect on their own drinking. By showing us all the reasons a person might drink and the challenges faced when it comes to quitting, the quit-lit genre shows the multiple shades of grey that exist in the realm of alcohol addiction.’
Flic Everett says she wanted to write her book because ‘I knew it was something a lot of women in their 30s and 40s struggle with’.
‘Lots of my friends say they should cut down their drinking but they don’t because they think life won’t be fun any more, and they can’t imagine getting through a tough week without gin or wine,’ she says. ‘I wanted to tell them that if I can do it, anyone can.’
Everett thinks that while we’re aware of the health dangers posed by drinking too much, a big factor in why so many of us are quitting or cutting down is the cost.
‘In Scotland, minimum pricing has made a huge difference, especially for younger drinkers,’ she says. ‘Forking out £10 or £20 to drink wine while watching TV is a waste of money.’
The good news is that drinks companies have realised non-drinkers want choice so there are now more zero-alcohol options than ever before.
‘My favourite quit drinks are the brilliant Seedlip with ice and elderflower, convincing whisky substitute Celtic Soul and Hardy’s alcohol-free Chardonnay,’ says Flic. ‘There are also mocktail recipes in my book — I love the authentic-tasting Old Fashioned.’
Ruby, meanwhile, loves alcohol-free beer and says: ‘There are so many great options now, and Lyres make alcohol-free spirits for mocktails.’
Both authors are adamant booze-free doesn’t have to mean fun-free — but it can mean better sleep, greater clarity and enhanced decision-making. Oh, and no hangovers or hangover guilt.
If that’s not worth raising a booze-free glass to, I don’t know what is. Cheers!
Hardy’s alcohol-free Chardonnay
Like the real thing with the alcohol vacuum-distilled out. £4.50, tesco.com
One of the better alcohol-free lagers. £1.49, booze free.uk
Lyre’s American malt
A smoky whiskey-alike. £20.95, masterofmalt.com
An aperitif made by the same company that makes Aperol. £9.95 for ten. souschef.co.uk
Seedlip Garden 108
Mix with tonic for a G&T-style drink. £26, seedlipdrinks.com