I recently finished a journey that I wasn’t expecting to take and figured I’d share the “adventure” (because that’s what we call all hard life experiences).
Complete a month of abstaining from alcohol in a town with breweries and bars around every corner.
To do a hard reset both mentally and physically. We are inundated with articles on how beer is good for you. No, wait, beer is bad this week. Oh hang on, those gin and tonics are loaded with calories. Ok, tequila is good. Coffee is great . . . just don’t drink too much. SO WHICH IS IT? Of course we could insert the age-old “everything in moderation” mantra here, but that’s subjective and personal because one person’s moderation could be another’s too much. And whether we want to admit it or not, alcohol affects our body and mind. Ideally, this would be the time to figure out what moderation means to me.
To regain appreciation for the craft. Drinking and tasting are two completely different ways of imbibing. I enjoyed drinking wine, but was I really tasting it? Was I looking for those notes of peach or rubber hose? Did it matter if it was from Italy or Chile? And what about beer? Was I being picky about which style I enjoyed? Was I asking the brewer the whys and hows of the process? And while I have a firm appreciation for a variety of cocktails, did I truly savor them, or was their purpose solely to get me through a social situation?
To see if I could. Some people say they’re going to train for a marathon and then later succeed or fail. Some set out to climb Mt. Everest. I tried to go 30 days without having a drop of alcohol.
Obviously going dry for a period of time isn’t a new concept. People do it all the time in January. So randomly doing it in the heat of the Florida summer seemed intimidating and isolating.
It wasn’t easy at all. Holidays, major sports events, and birthdays were dotted all throughout the calendar and I felt my self-imposed alcohol lockout was poorly timed. But I persisted. I attended parties and social gatherings, but prepared to feel awkward and slightly annoyed by my imbibing counterparts.
Maneuvering through the bustling bar and restaurant scene in Downtown Sanford was no small feat. I became sympathetic to those looking for a good non-alcoholic beverage or those who may be struggling with addiction. We, the community, should certainly celebrate the breweries and bars that are creating the best imbibing scene in Central Florida (I mean, that’s what Drink Sanford is all about). It’s doing wonders for the economy and tourism. But I was also now “sobering up” to how I could successfully navigate brew and spirit-filled menus.
Mocktails and ginger ales became my new friends. And after the first two weeks I didn’t feel like I was missing out so much. The bartenders at Tuffy’s, Bitters & Brass, and The Imperial made me tasty and refreshing mocktails, so I at least felt I was enjoying the craft in the environments we enjoy. Pro tip: a bit of honey simple syrup in a mocktail is the way to go.
The first two weeks were the most difficult. My go-to non-alcoholic drink is plain old water. I drink 70 ounces of it daily. And I occasionally have a morning and/or afternoon tea. I don’t drink sodas. So now it felt like there was a bit of a gap that had previously been filled with beer, wine, and cocktails. I tried to like flavored waters and seltzers and after the fourth one figured out those weren’t for me.
I didn’t want to go out. My desire to go to dinners, have date night, or hang out with friends at watering holes significantly decreased. I preferred a night in with a good movie, or working on various projects, to going out to places where I would be tempted to have a sip.
I did not lose weight. Although I wasn’t intending to lose weight, I thought that might be a nice side effect. Instead my junk food cravings surged as apparently my body still wanted to capture the calories and sugar that I hadn’t been drinking. It takes WILLPOWER!
We saved money. This was a pretty nice perk. Obviously non-alcoholic drinks cost much less than cocktails and beers.
It would have been easier if my spouse had participated too. Insert slight eye roll here, but in fairness, I did spring my 30-day prohibition on the hubby without warning. So if you have a significant other, it’s best to give a bit of notice and see if it’s something you’d like to do together. It’s really not a great time when they’re going on and on about how wonderful their Tanqueray No. 10 Martini is right. in. front. of. you. while snapping pictures to post to our IG account.
All in all I’d do it again. Maybe for a month, maybe not. Sprinkling in a couple dry weeks here and there are doable. Googling "dry month" will bring up all sorts of articles on personal dry experiences and the results are all over the board. So here's where I insert my mantra "You do you, Booboo." Do what works for YOU.
But recommendations that I'd give to anyone for future dry spells are:
Make sure a significant other or friend are on board too.
Make an effort to meet friends at alcohol-free establishments - we have several wonderful shops and cafes that should not be overlooked!
Have you successfully completed a dry month (or two or three)? How did you feel? What were the challenges and pay-offs? What are your favorite non-alcoholic drinks? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can share experiences and tips!