Booze or No Booze?


Photo by Lorelle Del Matto

Mojito

I put a bottle of champagne on ice to toast the engagement of young friends joining us for dinner a few weeks ago. When I learned that they don’t drink alcohol, I quickly switched gears to this virgin version of my favorite summer refresher, the Mojito.

These two aren’t the only ones not drinking. Millennial and Gen Z generations drink less than other generations did at the same age (5). Booze-free bars are popping up around the world. More places that serve alcohol have  “mocktail” lists and some offer virgin versions of any cocktail on the menu. Beer sales are flat while alcohol-free beer sales grow (1,2,3,4).

This is more than a “Dry January” experiment. Research by the International Wine and Spirits Record, reported in Forbes, indicates that over half of all Americans who drink alcohol are trying to, or have tried, to reduce their intake (5).

What’s motivating this “sober curious” movement? Health and wellness (5).

In a survey of Dry January participants, benefits cited include better sleep, weight loss, money saved, a feeling of control over drinking and a sense of accomplishment. After Dry January, research participants continued to drink less often and less alcohol (6).

A recent study reported improved mental well-being in women who quit drinking alcohol although the benefit was not shown in men (7,8). A 2018 Lancet study got a lot of press because it concluded that zero alcohol was best for health (10) but that fell under scrutiny, too, as Rachel Moeller Gorman discusses in “The Cocktail Conundrum” (11).

Gorman takes on the confusing, conflicting science around the health benefits and risks of imbibing but makes clear that drinking alcohol is not endangered, citing research showing that more Americans drink alcohol than in the past, and they’re drinking in greater quantities. Why? One positive benefit is the social experience of drinking with others. Alcohol has been linked to “eudaemonia,” a Greek word that means a feeling of well-being and fulfillment. 

I recently vacationed in Burgundy, France, and experienced how deeply embedded wine making and consumption is in the French “joie de vivre.” Can gathering with a group of friends over mocktails lubricate the same feel-good social experience as alcohol does? I haven’t seen studies, but some are having fun (2).

Whether you drink alcohol or not, everyone should have a good booze-free beverage option on hand. My favorite alcohol-free cocktail starter are the three versions of Seedlip (12) distilled no-alcohol spirits which offer delightfully complex, interesting flavors.

Mojito

Start with cold ingredients so you use as little ice as possible to avoid diluting the flavors.

Serves 1

5-10 mint leaves

2 wedges fresh lime

½ ounce (1 tablespoon) lime juice

1 ½ ounces Seedlip Garden 108 or Grove 42, chilled

1 ounce (1tablespoon) simple syrup, more or less to taste

Ice cubes

Lime sparkling water

Mint sprig

  1. Muddle mint and 1 lime wedge in a cocktail shaker or bottom of a sturdy glass.  Add lime juice, Seedlip, syrup and an ice cube or two.  Cover shaker and shake well. (Or stir well if using a glass.)  
  2. Strain into a glass with ice. Top with an ounce or two of lime-flavored sparkling water. Squeeze a lime wedge into drink and garnish with a mint sprig.

References

  1. The Drinking Trend That’s on the Rise in DC: Not Drinking. Anna Spiegel Washingtonian.com. August 1, 2019.
  2. The newest Trend in Bars: No Booze. Alaina Demopoulos. Thedailybeast.com May 3, 2019 
  3. Sales of nonalcoholic booze are on the rise — and it reveals a dark truth about social-media surveillance culture. Kate Taylor. Businessinsider.com
  4. Around the World, Liquor Free Bars are Taking Off. Maya Stanton. Lonelyplanet.com. June 14, 2019.
  5. Low- and No-Alcohol Beverages Are a Growing Trend Worldwide, Says new Report. Thomas Pellechia. Forbes.com Feb 20, 2019.
  6. Here’s What happens to Your Body and Mind if You Give Up Drinking in January. David Nield. Sciencealert.com. January 2, 2019.
  7. Change in moderate alcohol consumption and quality of life: evidence from 2 population-based cohorts. Canadian Medical Journal. Xiaoxin I. Yao, Michael Y. Ni, Felix Cheung, Joseph T. Wu, C. Mary Schooling, Gabriel M. Leung and Herbert Pang. July 08, 2019 191 (27).
  8. Giving Up Alcohol Boosts mental health in Women. Norra MacReady. Medscape.com. July 08, 2019.
  9. Women who stop drinking alcohol improve mental health, study finds. A. Pawlowski Today.com. July 9, 2019.0.
  10. No level of alcohol consumption improves health. Robyn Burton,Nick Sheron. Lancet.com.August 23, 2018
  11. The Cocktail Conundrum. Rachel Moeller Gorman. Eating Well, May 2019. 101-105. 2
  12. Seedlip

© Lorelle Del Matto 2019

lorelle About lorelle

Crazy about cooking, eating and sharing good food – my work and leisure revolve around the kitchen. As a culinary dietitian my professional life encompasses nutrition counseling and education, recipe development, product development, food and nutrition writing, marketing communications, corporate test kitchen and consumer affairs management, food styling and work as a product spokesperson.

Comments

  1. Cheryl Eiger says

    These drinks do sound refreshing !
    I’m up for an experiment; weekend with friends , one night mock tails
    the next night booze
    Third night reflection circle with your choice of beverage .
    Game ?

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