What Does Building A Better Drinking Culture Look Like?

What Does Building A Better Drinking Culture Look Like?

by Martha Wright •

I spent 25-years in the wine industry, and now four years as a sobriety coach - a weird trajectory, I know!

I’m so steeped in the science of how alcohol impacts the body and am reminded daily of my clients’ challenges, but rather than being in any way anti-alcohol, I’m actually far more passionate about the idea of building a better drinking culture!

I put many hours into a monthly newsletter filled with my latest discoveries of places, people and products that make living an alcohol-free life easier and more fun! (You can sign up for it here).

When I am a guest on TV and podcast shows, I introduce people to these brilliant non-alcoholic beverages plus recommendations for online communities or bricks-and-mortar stores (and now even festivals!) where people can enjoy the social aspect of tasting and discussing with the other people they meet there, just like you do in any alcoholic-beverage tasting room. Why not get your friends together and stage your own tasting of non-alcoholic wine and non-alcoholic champagne. And be sure to check out my guest post on enjoying wine country without the wine.

I’d love to hear your ideas for what a better drinking culture would look like. Here are a few of mine. Please add your ideas in the comments!

Always Options

I’m going to publicly acknowledge that when I ran a winery tasting room, I blew it! We should have offered at least one cool NA menu option (local kombucha, flavored sparkling water, non-alcoholic ready to drink, non-alcoholic beer, etc.). And that option should have been clearly indicated on the menu (no one should have to ask)!

From birthday parties to baby showers, let’s picture a non-alcoholic display that at least rivals the selection of alcoholic beverages. Make the options visible, plentiful and beautiful. Non-drinkers deserve to stay in the ritual, and we can challenge our long-standing assumption that drinkers are always drinkers. A funny thing happens when you put out appealing non-alcoholic drinks options…. people take them!

Slay The Stigma

My clients say it all the time… "If I order a non-alcoholic drink, my colleagues (boss, friends) will think I have a problem with alcohol.” Yeesh, alcohol is the only drug you have to justify NOT taking?! If you’re reading this, you are already part of the solution! We have to just keep at it - to normalize not drinking. I’m grateful that No & Low makes that easy and interesting! And while we’re at it, we’d do well to stop thinking that everyone who puts down the bottle had some big, dark story! Let me hear in the comments….do you think we’re chipping away at the stigma? Someone asked me recently, “So are you not drinking at all? Like not even a glass of wine with dinner?” Now, granted they had known me for years as a winemaker and marketer, so I understand the curiosity. But I also know that I would never ask that person, “So, are you like drinking all the time now?”

Campus Culture

I have a friend who sells non-alcoholic cocktail kits and she recently got an order from a sorority that was sending one to each of their new pledges during exam week. That is what taking care of your new, young members looks like, not peer-pressuring them into dozens of tequila shots. Wine companies have hired college students everywhere as reps to sell canned wine to their friends (it’s true!). I’m looking forward to reading about student reps for non-alcoholic brands.

I just attended two concerts in a sports arena where an excellent craft NA beer was very visibly on sale throughout!! And on a recent trip to Los Angeles, I was thrilled by a hotel mini bar featuring a few different cool non-alcoholic beverages!

Could we do away with the idea that it’s bad luck to toast with anything but alcohol? Will managers wise up and offer alternatives to free alcohol and booze cruises as company perks?

What would you love to see in a newly constructed drinking culture? Cheers to you and to No & Low for being part of the building crew!

To get you started you can check out this two great No & Low guides: non-alcoholic wine guide & non-alcoholic spirits guide.

Martha Wright is a New Orleans-born wine industry veteran turned sobriety/mindful drinking coach. She works in small groups and 1:1 in her own practice, Clear Power Coaching, as well as serving as Senior Coach within This Naked Mind. Martha offers a path to regain control that focuses on understanding the neuroscience of habits, uncovering unconscious beliefs, honing coping tools and cultivating fun and play. She loves sourcing and tasting the latest non-alcoholic beverages; inspirational podcasts; traveling; ping pong and roller skating.

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