A BIT of wine here, an ice-cold beer there, some bubbly to ring in the new year, a cocktail to keep feeling merry. The festive season sure does create plenty of opportunities to tap into the tipple.
But come the start of the year many of us are reaching for something cleansing and testing the Dry January waters. For a month we swear to steer clear of the booze – but by February many of us are back at it again.
Yet a rising trend may be changing that. Sober curiosity is being driven by health-conscious youngsters and more people are starting to follow the trend as mocktails and non-alcoholic drinks become more available in stores and restaurants.
British journalist Ruby Warrington first popularised the term in 2017 in her book, Sober Curious, which explores what life would be like without alcohol or by having a more mindful relationship with it.
She described her day-to-day routine as “going to the work event where there was nasty, cheap white wine and knocking it back”, or “putting the kids in bed after a busy day and cracking a bottle open.
“It’s the drinking you do without really thinking about it.”
Mindful drinking, by contrast, she says, means “bringing awareness to your behaviours in terms of your decision to drink alcohol”.
Many South Africans also became more interested in the idea after the initial hard lockdown in March 2020 resulted in people running out of booze due to alcohol sale restrictions. Enforced sobriety made many realise they were okay without indulging all the time.
“Sober curiosity is often defined as having the option to question or to change your drinking habits for mental or physical health-focused reasons,” says Oliver Wills, marketing lead for Swinkels Family Brewers, the local distributors of Bavaria 0.0% Beer.
“The movement is about being interested in sobriety, but this can mean different things to different people, depending on their needs.”
For many people, being sober curious doesn’t mean giving up drinking entirely, but instead, quitting drinking for just a few weeks, or cutting back on how much they drink.
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