So you’ve hit Dry January hard, but there are still a few weeks ahead of you. You’re going to need motivation – something to plug your ears into. At REAL, we’ve become veterans of Dry January, and over the past three years we’ve built up a library of fascinating conversations on our podcast, each of them offering a tidbit of wisdom on how to get undrunk in style.
But before you put your earbuds in, pour yourself a glass of the REAL stuff. This article is a treat for the tastebuds as well as the ears.
Engage your sober curiosity
The queen of the Sober Curious movement, Ruby Warrington, has a new book out (The Sober Curious Reset) and it really cements her authority on the subject. An avid podcaster herself, we met up with her in the early days of her mission for this in-depth chat about the ways in which communication can hinder someone new to a less alcohol-dependent life, just as much as a lack of choice can. Along the way, we discussed the demise of ladette culture, the differences between US and UK drinking culture, and the ways in which the world is now opening up to alternative drinking and eating habits. We’ve packed a lot in to a mere 32 minute episode.
The best non-alc beer in town
We’re huge fans of Lucky Saint. Even the drinkers at our brewery keep a stock of these beers in their fridges. In our opinion, no other non-alcoholic beer brand has hit the spot in quite the same way. In the early days of the REAL Podcast, we spent an afternoon with Luke Boase, the founder of the brand, to hear his story. If you’ve ever wondered how a drinks brand comes into existence – from first thought to factory – or how a non-alcoholic beer is made, then this is the episode for you. Delish!
Dry January? Been there and done it all…
One person who has really gone to the heart of Sober Curiosity and started opening people’s eyes to the peculiarity of our accepted drinking culture is Lucy Rocca. Lucy launched the incredibly helpful Soberistas platform after shaking off the shackles of a particularly fraught relationship with alcohol and realising that, like so many people, Alcoholics Anonymous wasn’t necessarily for her. We caught up with Lucy on a rickety phone line from Sheffield to discuss the sinister rise of Wine O’Clock, memories of Melanie Sykes and her Boddingtons Ice Cream van, and why it’s perhaps not a good idea to go drinking in theme parks.
Discover the Sober Girl Society
The statistics seem to be on a constant upward trend: young Millennials are turning away from alcohol in vast numbers. To an older generation, it sounds almost impossible. How can you not drink in your twenties? Isn’t that what your twenties are for These ingrained ways of thinking, of course, are what fascinate us here on The REAL Podcast. So we sent Shani Higgs, a team member who had recently given up drinking for three months (you may have read her Sober Diaries on this blog), to meet Millie Gooch – the founder of the Sober Girl Society.
From Zero to Hero
For this episode of the Real Podcast, we sat down with Tim Etherington-Judge, a man who needs no introduction if you’re in the world of spirits and cocktails. A former brand ambassador for a well-known whiskey label, Tim’s life was the stuff of dreams for many people. It was literally his job to fly around the world, go to bars and drink whiskey. Some kind of Instagram heaven, right?
Apparently not. As you might imagine, that kind of lifestyle is going to take its toll. As Tim explains with brutal honesty and openness in our interview, his mental health took a sudden nosedive and he ended up alone in a hotel room in a very dark place indeed.
However, through hard work and with a lot of support from his international friends network, he has come out on top. In the months following his breakdown, Tim realised that his sole purpose from here on in had to be helping others in the hospitality world to reach out when they need support. He set up an organisation called Healthy Hospo which offers people involved in the alcohol industry a way to improve their relationship with drink and turn towards a more rounded and healthy lifestyle.
12 non-alcoholic drinks put to the test
Dry January is a great time to discover new things to drink. In October, 2019, we met up with Club Soda‘s Laura Willoughby (MBE) to record this episode. Inevitably, Laura has become something of a connoisseur when it comes to non-alcoholic drinks, so we raided her drinks cabinet and took a collection of 12 bottles down into a podcasting studio that looked a little like a 1980s nuclear fallout shelter. Over a liquid smorgasbord, we discussed the rise of this movement, the great work that Club Soda are doing, the latest non-drinking stats and how to make your local pub really work for you.
“Can we lose the booze but keep the craic?”
Here are a few interesting head-scratchers for you. Is it possible to drown your sorrows in a bottle of non-alcoholic gin? How do you approach the ritual of after-work drinks without a pint in front of you? Is it possible to meet a non-alcoholic binge drinker? How does Tinder Night work in an alcohol-free bar? We chatted to Anna Walsh, the manager of the now world-famous Virgin Mary bar in Dublin, Ireland’s first ever alcohol-free pub. If anyone had the answers to those questions, we felt sure that she would.
Music, Creativity and the power of sobriety
In this episode, we delved into a discussion on creativity and the idea that you don’t need something mind-altering, be that alcohol or anything else, in order to produce something beautiful and interesting. Tobias Ben Jacob and Lukas Drinkwater are two touring musicians who work in improvisational music. Two years ago they made the professional decision to go on “dry tours”. They realised that they needed to be alert and in the moment in order to perform at their best, and that the trappings of being a touring musician were working to their detriment.
Founding a Drinks Brand at a Kitchen Table
In this episode, we chat to Paul Mathew, the founder of Everleaf, about the world of non-alcoholic cocktails, the emergence of the non-alcoholic drinks world as a serious hospitality concern, and the journey that someone goes through to launch a new drinks brand from their kitchen table. And, if you stick around until the end, you’ll hear Paul knock together a delicious new kombucha sour using Everleaf and our very own Dry Dragon. We’ve posted the recipe here, so you can make it for yourself at home.
From Prohibition drinks to non-alcoholic wines
Bethan Higson travelled the globe as an ambassador for a major wine brand, getting involved in harvests, learning all about yeasts, really getting her head inside what makes a good wine and – just as importantly – how a good wine can heighten an occasion. Since then, she’s launched one of the UK’s most interesting non-alcoholic drinks startups, Mother Root. If you’re someone who thinks non-alc drinks are little more than sugary pop, you want to try this. Her ginger switchels pack a real punch, bringing a complexity to non-alcohol cocktails that you wouldn’t normally expect to find. A must-have for any non-alc explorer’s toolkit, we were delighted when she found time to drop by and chat about her journey so far.