Sober-Curious 101

Ruby Warrington. Photo courtesy of subject.

I quit drinking in 2007 because I was on a fast track to total destruction. I had only just turned 24 and my life felt over without the so-called magic elixir of alcohol (so dramatic, I know). But I had to stop, even if it seemed impossible. I didn’t have a road map or guide — Dry January didn’t start in the U.K. until 2011 and didn’t hit the American mainstream until a few years ago.

All I knew was that I had to change.

It didn’t happen overnight and it wasn’t always easy, but the decision to get sober was the most solid and beautiful choice I’ve ever made. I vowed to help light the path for others who want to get sober-serious or sober-curious, and to give them resources and options that weren’t available to me at the start of my journey.

Maybe this is your first “dry” month or you routinely take breaks from the booze. Or, maybe you have a family member or close friend who doesn’t drink much (or at all) and you want to alternate between, well, leaded and unleaded bevs. However you find yourself, you’re here and you want to know what the heck everyone is talking about when they utter words like sober-curious, mindful drinking or Dry January.

From a glossary of terms and a roundup of local and national heroes to lists of books, bottle shops and bars (without the booze, of course), consider this your sober-curious 101.

Zero-Proof Glossary

Sober-Curious: A term coined by Ruby Warrington; curiosity about how and if alcohol serves one’s life anymore; cutting back or cutting out booze due to health/wellness reasons; questioning alcohol culture; being a scientist in one’s life and experimenting with nonalcoholic beverages as a replacement for boozy ones to see how one feels in body, mind and spirit.

Mindful Drinking: Paying attention to the amount of alcohol consumed; being intentional, curious, and mindful about reasons why we drink; can result in experimenting with sobriety for a period of time.

Dry January: A one-month alcohol-free challenge started in the U.K. by nonprofit Alcohol Change UK in 2011 that has since grown to a global movement for people who want to start their year with a healthy reset.

Top Sober-Curious Books

1. “Sober-curious: The Blissful Sleep, Greater Focus, Limitless Presence, and Deep Connection Awaiting Us All on the Other Side of Alcohol” by Ruby Warrington

2. “The Sober Lush: A Hedonist’s Guide to Living a Decadent, Adventurous, Soulful Life — Alcohol Free” by Jardine Libaire + Amanda Eyre Ward

3. “The Dry Challenge: How to Lose the Booze for Dry January, Sober October, and Any Other Alcohol-Free Month” by Hilary Sheinbaum

4. “Quit Like a Woman: The Radical Choice to Not Drink in a Culture Obsessed with Alcohol by ” by Holly Whitaker

5. “This Naked Mind: Control Alcohol, Find Freedom, Discover Happiness, and Change Your Life ” by Annie Grace

6. “How to Be a Mindful Drinker: Cut Down, Take a Break, or Quit” by Dru Jaegar, Anja Madhvani, Laura Willoughby + Jussi Tolvi

There are hundreds more (Sarah Hepola, Laura McKowen, Augusten Burroughs, Mishka Shubaly, Catherine Grey, Anna David are phenomenal writers) but this is just to give you a taste of what’s out there.

Top Low- or No-Alcohol Recipe Books

1. “All Day Cocktails: Low (and No) Alcohol Magic” by Shaun Byrne + Nick Tesar

2. “Good Drinks: Alcohol-Free Recipes for When You’re Not Drinking for Whatever Reason” by Julia Bainbridge

3. “Mindful Mixology: A Comprehensive Guide to No and Low Alcohol Cocktails” by D.C.’s own Derek Brown (coming January 18)

4. “Mocktail Party: 75 Plant-Based, Non-Alcoholic Mocktail Recipes for Every Occasion” by Diana Licalzi, MS, RD, CDE + Kerry Benson, MS, RD, LDN

5. “Zero Proof Drinks and More: 100 Recipes for Mocktails and Low-Alcohol Cocktails” by Maureen Petrosky

6. “Zero Proof: 90 Non-Alcoholic Recipes for Mindful Drinking” by Elva Ramirez

Booze-Free Bars in the U.S. + Beyond

Coast Dry Bar in Chicago, Illinois: // @coastdrybar

Getaway Bar in New York City: // @getawaybar

Listen Bar in New York City: // @listenbar

Ocean Beach Cafe in San Francisco, California: // @oceanbeachcafe

Sans Bar in Austin, Texas (original) + St. Louis, Missouri: // @sans_bar 

Booze-Free Bottle Shops To Order From

Alena Botanica:  // @alenabotanica

Better Rhodes: @betterrhodes

Boisson NYC: // 

Drink No and Low:  // @drinknolow

The Open Road Bar + Bottle Shop: 

Sechey:  // @shopsechy

The Zero Proof:  // @thezeroproof

And with all the bottle shops that are brick and mortar only (Sipple, Spirited Away, etc.), this category is zooming full speed ahead. Coming along for the ride?

National/International Heroes of the Sober-Curious World

Shea Gomez, founder of No Booze Babes: @noboozebabes

Mille Gooch, founder of Sober Girl Society: @sobergirlsociety

Annie Grace, author: @thisnakedmind

Chris Marshall, founder of Sans Bar: @sans_bar

Khadi Olagoke, founder of Sober Black Girls Club: @soberblackgirlsclub

Ruby Warrington, author: @rubywarrington

Holly Whitaker, founder of Tempest and author: @holly // @jointempest

Laura Willoughby, Dru Jaeger + Jussi Tolvi, co-founders of Club Soda: @joinclubsoda

We’d love to see what kind of fun alcohol-free drinks you create/find or any self-discoveries you make this month. Feel free to tag @boozefreeindc so we can join you in #DryJanuary and beyond.

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