On Saturday night I hosted dinner for 15 of my lovely family and friends. So that’s 1 large stew, 3 gratin dauphinois, plenty of cake and many, many cans and bottles of drink. The difference? The drink was almost all non-alcoholic. Alcohol free party: hangover free Sunday!
When I did my German supermarket shopping last week I added in some ‘near branded’ booze rather than the good stuff because I couldn’t be arsed to make a separate trip to Tesco and I knew I wouldn’t be drinking it. Oh how my standards have slipped! So I got some gin (Jordan’s), tonic water (Shlepps) and a bottle of whiskey (Glenhoddle).
Will Dry January Never End?
But one by one my guests messaged me to say they were doing Dry January and therefore wouldn’t be drinking alcohol. In fact 12 out of 15 people were alcohol free!
Each guest generously brought along a selection of alternatives for us to try and the evening was to be an unexpected but very welcome alcohol free tasting session.
The main thing I noticed about everybody was how chatty we all were. There was so much to catch up on each others’ lives that we really didn’t stop talking from the minute we got together. Except for the games of pool, which added a youth club type raucousness in the background (mostly me shouting at myself for missing) it was a civilised, cosy, lovely evening.
When I saw the clock reach 11pm my gut reaction was to gather an arm full of shot glasses and start passing them out but then I remembered that I don’t do that anymore. No we weren’t dancing and shouting (apart from the pool players) but it just wasn’t a dancey sort of evening. I have boogied a plenty with no alcohol in my system so I know all you need is good music. But we were all deep in conversation and loud music just wasn’t the vibe.
We were done by 1am and I went to bed with a warm, sober glow.
Hangover Free Sunday Morning
The next day we had a lovely long brunch and some of us even went for a run (2 people are training for races so a small gaggle tagged along). Yes, we were smug as fuck at our hangover free Sunday achievement. My only regret is not seeing more people I know while out running with my sober warriors so we could all shout,
‘Morning losers!’ as we whizzed by.
I have been reflecting on the little oasis of calm we all enjoyed on Saturday and thinking about the reasons we are, as a society, so resistant to gathering without alcohol. As always with these musings, I end up at the door of advertisers.
Advertisers Are To Blame For Everything! (Sort of)
We are all so vulnerable to the message that fun only happens when drink is involved. In 2016 Freixenet was forced to withdraw an advert for using the following wording,
“Life doesn’t just revolve around wine (or maybe it does)…Somehow any moment is made just that bit more fun …. when it’s accompanied by our bubbles.”
It was withdrawn because the wording was so overt however, I see many adverts where the implication is exactly the same.
And the trouble is, I don’t disagree. Drinking alcohol can make things more fun but it has become an essential part of socialising to the extent that many people wouldn’t even consider socialising without alcohol. I think that’s a real shame.
Can We Just Exercise Some Self Control?
We’re missing out on honest connections with some of the most important people in our lives because we’re all a little or a lot pissed. Advertising standards are not tight enough in my opinion but in time I expect them to change.
We used to have the Marlboro man equating cigarettes with masculinity. Now we have gorgeous Latino girls in tea dresses telling us to knock back whiskeys in the day.
Could you throw an alcohol free party just once? Maybe? No? Too scary to consider? And you think I’m the one with the drink problem! (My tongue is in my cheek).
I’m sure you get my point. We’re all being sold a lie but as intelligent people it might feel really great to exercise our right to choose. Yes, the drinks that we consume but more importantly, how we spend time with our friends.