Mocktails and More: Limiting Alcohol in a Drinking Centric City
Let me preface this article by saying that I’ve never been a heavy drinker. I’ve always enjoyed a celebratory drink, we have a fully stocked bar at home and I love a good wine pairing, but I’ve never been one to indulge in more than a couple of drinks in an evening. That being said, in 2020, my husband and I found ourselves concocting cocktails on pretty much a nightly basis. I mean, who didn’t drink more in 2020? We enjoyed learning about mixing different drinks and had a lot of fun with it. However, in the last few years, I have decided to majorly cut back on my alcohol intake and have considered giving it up altogether. After our 2020 cocktail hurrah, both my husband and I realized that it wasn’t serving us best. We didn’t want to be the type of people who dealt with our anxiety or overwhelm by drinking, even a small amount. Additionally, I wanted to lose some baby weight so I cut out alcohol completely for a time and saw great results. Then in 2021, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. After making it through that challenging journey, I was again confronted with what role I wanted alcohol to play in my life. The current doctor recommendation is to drink no more than three drinks a week as a prevention for cancer reoccurrence, and while I’m generally way below that, with one or two drinks per month, I’ve recently wondered about giving it up completely.
So, what’s holding me back? Drinking is a big part of New Orleans culture. Whether it’s enjoying Mardi Gras parades with a drink in hand, toasting to friends with champagne, or indulging in a wine pairing at an upscale restaurant, alcohol plays a big role in our city. I clearly remember being at Jazz Fest, sipping on my Rosemint Herbal Iced Tea, which is absolutely delicious by the way, while everyone else I was with ordered beer after beer. No shade to them, I just felt a bit out of place. Not to mention the number of incredible bars that boast craft cocktails and parties that center around imbibing. Additionally comes the raised eyebrows if you do pass on a drink in a social situation — are you pregnant? Overly religious? On a diet? Or just a general party pooper? Sometimes when you ask for sparkling water with lime, there’s a stigma that comes with that. And even as a full grown adult, when everyone else is drinking, it can be hard to say no.
However, in the past year as I’ve considered this more and more, I’ve come upon a few things that have helped me limit alcohol. For one thing, being “sober curious” is gaining traction. There is a whole movement of people on social media who are questioning their relationship with alcohol and whether or not they want it to be part of their lives. Another trend is “dry January,” where people take the month of January off of drinking, a great jumpstart! When more people are participating in something, it makes it way easier to make that decision. Another is becoming more educated. A big push towards limiting alcohol came when my husband and I listened to a podcast from Huberman Lab. Thankfully, as I’ve expressed my desire to limit alcohol with people who love me, it’s always well received and encouraged and a few of my friends and family have even decided to join me.
The last two things that make limiting alcohol easier are finding good self-care options and here me out: mocktails. For self-care, prayer and music have been comforts for me for a long time. What I’ve found is that often what I crave in a glass of wine is relaxation and escape. And that can be totally fine! In the past year, however, I’ve found that hot baths, early morning walks, lifting weights, listening to audiobooks, and doing cold plunges, give me the relief that I’m looking for.
Luckily, mocktails are also trending! I find that often I want something fun to sip on when out to dinner or at a party. Any bartender worth their salt can make a “not too sweet mocktail” which is my go to order. But lately, I’ve been seeing more restaurants with mocktails on the menu. Yes, there are usually just a couple of options and yes they cost just as much as the alcohol versions, but hey, it’s a start! Cure, Bar Marilou, Saba, Saffron Nola, and Cane and Table are just a few places to try.
As for what we make at home, here are some easy favorites:
–Tonic Rickey: you can also swap out the simple syrup with Luxardo cherry juice, delicious!
–Kombucha Mocktail: If you’re a Kombucha person, this is great!
My husband is great at making mocktails, his method is as follows: 3-6 dashes of bitters, 4oz of any mixer (ginger beer, tonic, soda water etc…), and a little bit of sweetener (simple syrup, maple syrup, grenadine etc…) Pour it in a coupe glass and you’re set! Honestly, a quick browse of Pinterest provides tons of ideas. I also consistently get social media ads for non-alcoholic spirits but have yet to try those.
If you’re sober curious, participating in dry January, or want to make a change to your relationship with alcohol for physical or mental health reasons, just know: you’re not alone. I have a feeling that this will become a more and more popular lifestyle. For me, I haven’t decided to give it up completely. Like I said, a fine wine pairing with a gourmet tasting menu is one of my favorite indulgences in life. But, I’m definitely on track to continue to greatly limit how much I drink, and I feel really good about that!