We explore mindful drinking and inclusive spaces during Alcohol Awareness Week

This week is Alcohol Awareness week, so there’s no better time to think about the role that alcohol-free drinks can play in the way that we manage our consumption. You may find yourself wondering what the point is in alcohol-free drinks, but we’re hoping the below will outline why they can be such a great way to create inclusive drinking and dining places.

Often, when someone makes a choice about their wellbeing, it can feel as though they are holding up the mirror to our own behaviours and decisions

Why bother with alcohol-free drinks? 

Alcohol-free drinks can provide great alternatives for the moments when you aren’t drinking. They make people feel grown-up and included in social occasions, gone are the days of orange juice for catered events. 

People may not be drinking for a number of reasons including pregnancy, trying to fall pregnant, wanting to get up early to work out, moderating their consumption, religious reasons, health issues (physical or mental), or addiction.

Some people just don’t like to drink. We’ve allowed drinking to become the default, but it’s important that we make it easy for people to choose not to drink if that’s what feels best for them. 

Young people are drinking less than the generations before them, and are leading the mindful drinking movement. 

A Woman Holding A Bottle Of Non Aloholic Beer
There are lots of alcohol-free beer and cocktail options available Image: Club Soda Guide

Can I ask someone why they aren’t drinking?

Reasons for choosing not to drink are usually very personal, and asking someone outright can really put them on the spot. 

Women who aren’t drinking are often asked if they are pregnant, which is incredibly rude. Perhaps she doesn’t want to have children, perhaps she is struggling with fertility, or has suffered one or more miscarriages. Questions around womens’ reproductive plans are not appropriate. 

Ultimately, if another person is choosing not to drink, they don’t owe you an explanation. If a person wants to talk to you about why they aren’t drinking, they’ll probably bring it up themselves. 

There are so many other interesting things to find out about people, so maybe ask about their hobbies or their recent holiday instead. 

Group Of Friends In A Pub Drinking Beer
It's important to listen to your friends about their decisions Image: Club Soda Guide

How can I support someone changing their drinking? 

Often, when someone makes a choice about their wellbeing, it can feel as though they are holding up the mirror to our own behaviours and decisions. Remember that this is not about you, and listen to why this person is making the decision to change their drinking. 

Make sure they know that they can speak to you about this. Offer to do something together that doesn’t centre around alcohol. You could ask if they are interested in trying alcohol-free drinks (some people find them problematic, especially if they are overcoming addiction as they can spark a desire for the ‘real deal’), and offer to try some together. 

Mindful Drinking Festival
Club Soda is a great resource for anyone looking to change their behaviour around drinking Image: Club Soda Guide

How can I cut down safely?

It’s best to speak to your doctor if you are worried that your alcohol consumption is too high. If you stop suddenly this could lead to withdrawal, which can be very dangerous. While daunting, it’s important to find the right support and to consult a medical professional. 

If you want to adjust your drinking behaviour, you might like to find a group to help you do this. Club Soda is a mindful drinking movement that helps people to stop, cut down, or take a break. 

There are also tonnes of brilliant books about changing your drinking, which you might find helpful. It helps to find people who have shared experiences, so you can learn about all the different ways in which people change their drinking. 

It doesn’t have to be about quitting, you might just like to change when or how you are drinking. 

Lucky Saint Alcohol Free Lager
Alcohol-free beer is becoming much more popular Image: Lucky Saint

What should I drink when I’m not drinking?

If you’re looking for alcohol-free drinks, these are available in a number of supermarkets. For beer lovers, Lucky Saint is an excellent lager, and the new Guinness 0.0 has received rave reviews. If you’re a spritz fan, try mixing æcorn Aperitifs with tonic for that holiday feeling. Sea Arch is a stunning gin alternative made with coastal botanicals, and we also love toasting a special occasion with a glass of Thomson & Scott Noughty

Eat Your Greens Leeds
Eat Your Greens in Leeds serves a variety of homemade sodas and kombuchas Image: Eat Your Greens

Which venues serve the best alcohol-free drinks?

If you’re cutting down, or someone in your party doesn’t drink, you might want to consider choosing a venue that has an interesting range of alcohol-free drinks. We recommend doing your research before choosing where to go, check out drinks menus online.

In Leeds, we love Eat Your Greens, which serves a variety of homemade sodas, as well as beer and wine alternatives. It also stocks a range of kombuchas, hot drinks, and delicious organic fruit juices. The venue caters brilliantly to vegans, and this has been considered in the drinks offer, too. 

Bundobust has sites in Leeds, Manchester, and Liverpool, and is known not only for its delicious Indian street food and craft beer but also for doing a great job for its non-drinking customers. Try its alcohol-free cocktails, made using ingredients that complement the food menu. It has a great range of alcohol-free beers, as well as some interesting soft drinks, and of course its delicious chai.

And if you’re looking for something special in Liverpool, Panoramic 34 has a range of well-considered alcohol-free cocktails, as well as non-alcoholic beers to accompany the stunning views of the city. 

Header Image: Club Soda Guide