The trouble with not drinking

 |   |  The Modern Drinker 

Here’s an admission I never expected to have to make: I’m not an alcoholic.

There, I’ve said it. I’ve come clean. I’m 10 years off the booze and, just to nip this in the bud should I end up going out drinking with one of you in the near future, not drinking doesn’t automatically mean I’ve been dealing with my demons.

I have nothing against people who drink, and I still enjoy heading out to a beer garden when the weather’s treating us kindly. The truth is, however, that like so many people I bump into nowadays, there came a time when I just didn’t fancy it any longer. One too many late nights combined with the coming of fatherhood (a word of warning: dirty nappies and hangovers just don’t mix well), and I decided to have a month off. It wasn’t a sponsored thing. I just stopped.

Sure, it wasn’t particularly easy. As most people who’ve ever done Dry January or anything of that nature, the temptation was fairly constant… but so was a steady-growing feeling of general wellbeing. Couple that with the fact that I was just generally getting more done, and by the end of the first month I was ready for a second. The incessant mental chatter soon dropped away, and two months became six, and then quickly became a year.

10 years on and I can honestly say I miss almost nothing about drinking whatsoever. Your lifestyle changes, different things come into focus, and the days and years trundle on.

The caveat you noticed in that last paragraph has to do with choice – or a lack of it, to be precise. One thing very few people tell you when you decide to cut down on the booze is that there’s only so much tomato juice/ Coca Cola/ non-alcoholic beer (delete as applicable) that a human can take in a single evening, and it’s rarely more than one or two glasses. Without a drink you feel naked. Three glasses of fizzy crap and you feel bloated and bored.

I know this isn’t just my problem, either. Ask anyone who decides to have a night out off the booze. You don’t have to be teetotal to know that your options are extremely limited, and there’s a real irony to the fact that anyone cutting down on alcohol for health reasons often has to resort to a pint of aspartame mixer.

Increasingly across London and other parts of the UK, however, there are signs of something alternative afoot. (You knew this was coming, given the blog you’re reading, but…) the fact that the Kombucha Revolution has well and truly arrived in this country can only be a good thing. Walk into almost any independent coffee shop in London and you’re likely to come face to face with a bottle of the stuff, and its reach is only likely to grow (by 25% year-on-year until 2020, according to one report).

The great thing about kombucha as an alternative drinking option (by which I mean something you can drink other than alcohol on a night out) is not that it’s believed to be ridiculously healthy (which we won’t argue with), but that it’s something you can keep supping beyond a couple of glasses. Brewed well, there’s a complexity to its taste profile that keeps your palate interested while your belly stays nausea-free.

Sure, there are hipster-related questions that you may need to ask yourself, but the bearded tribe have good reason to be taking this drink into their hip-flasks. As a community, they tend to enjoy ‘being on’, or feeling healthy enough to get a little more out of life. Done well, this probiotic drink, with its occasional wine-like notes, ticks all of those boxes. It’s not about having the latest trendy health drink. It’s simply about having something to sip that allows you to feel good about yourself – to experience what kombucha fans call ‘the booch glow’.

As a decade-long non-alcoholic, it’s nice to discover something – finally – that feels like a real alternative. If the Kombucha Revolution is really upon us, you can count me in. I’m ready to hit the streets.