Celebrating Dryuary: Ringing in the New Year Alcohol-Free

Drinking less alcohol is repeatedly one of the Top Ten New Year’s resolutions. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most commonly broken resolutions. We spoke to Beth Hutson, CEO and Executive Producer at Elevated Content, a Fort Worth-based content creation firm, and powerhouse behind zero-proof blog, The Elevated Elixir, to get her take on the alcohol-free movement, reasons why it may be hard to keep that resolution, and recipes so good, you won’t even miss the alcohol!

According to research, Millennials, born between 1980 and 1994, and Generation Z, born between 1995 and 2015, are drinking less than the generations before them. A 2018 report from Berenberg Research found that Gen Z respondents were drinking more than 20 percent less per capita than their Millennial counterparts who already drank less than baby boomers and Gen Xers did at the same age. Respondents say they drink less because of health and hangover-related concerns as well as worries about how they will be perceived by friends or parents on social media. Plus, many think drinking just isn’t that cool anymore.

Even though Hutson notes the younger generations are a leading force behind the “zero proof” movement, she says trends leaning toward healthier options have increased across multiple generations.

“The younger generations are really less interested in drinking. They’re more introverted and looking for more thoughtful connections so they’re a big part of the movement,” Hutson says. “But it’s also a big thing with the ‘Mommy Wine’ culture where more parents are starting to realize that maybe alcohol is becoming a bigger part of their life to de-stress and it’s becoming an issue. So it’s definitely a theme across multiple generations.”

Being in the wine business for years, and now doing PR for many chefs, restaurants and food brands, Hutson says socializing with alcohol was just a natural part of her job. But she started noticing she wasn’t building the meaningful connections she had in the past while drinking. In addition, Hutson had started eating clean and cutting out sugar after being placed on an autoimmune protocol diet for a thyroid condition, so she decided to go ahead and cut out alcohol as well.

“It was something already on my heart, and my husband had quit drinking six years ago, so I had already seen what he experienced going into restaurants or bars with very few non-alcoholic options,” she says. “In that same week, it came to me that I should be an advocate for mocktails. I wanted to highlight ingredients that were high-end and curated, and really advocate to restaurants to have thoughtful mocktails on their menu.”

That’s how their Instagram-centric blog, The Elevated Elixir, came to be. The blog boasts recipes, mixology videos, event notifications and local non-alcoholic finds around town to help you navigate the zero-proof lifestyle or if you’d just like to dabble in a non-alcoholic drink every now and then.

“We encourage people who would consider themselves drinkers to enjoy a mocktail every now and then. You can have mocktails between drinks or maybe some days you don’t feel like drinking but don’t want to miss out on the social aspect of drinking, so this can be approachable for everybody,” Hutson explains. “That’s why we’re even careful about using the word ‘sober’ in our messaging because we just want to elevate non-alcoholic beverages in general so that even drinkers would think, ‘Wow, this tastes really good, I don’t even need the alcohol.’”

But Hutson also understands the stigma around not drinking, especially during celebratory times like the holidays. It’s not unusual to field a few questions about why you’re not drinking, and Hutson has some simple tips:

  • Less is more: No one owes anyone an explanation. Just say ‘this is what I’ve been drinking lately,’ and leave it at that if you want.
  • Don’t apologize: Be confident in your decision and don’t feel the need to apologize or make up an excuse. 
  • BYOB: Bring your own beverage so you don’t have to rely on what’s on-hand wherever you are. Bringing your own mocktail can also encourage friends and family to try something different, but just as delicious.

Recently, there’s been an uptick in awareness around zero-proof drinks. There are more influencers on social media or celebrities who are sober or choose to be alcohol-free, and now there are more brands specifically catered towards zero proof mocktails. CBD, another big health trend, is also making its way into mocktail mixes, as well. But Hutson acknowledges there’s still a long way to go.

While Austin residents can enjoy the city’s first alcohol-free “bar” aptly named Sans Bar, the Metroplex is a little slower to adopt the trend. Right now, the “sober-curious” can find mocktail menus at select places while more restaurants and bars are starting to elevate their current mocktail selections or add them to their current offerings, and more alcohol-free pop-ups are showing up around town. To stay up to date on places around town catering to a great mocktail, Hutson suggests keeping in touch with The Elevated Elixir, but you might be surprised to find what your bartender can do even if there isn’t a mocktail menu present.

“A lot of times bars can make a virgin version of whatever it is you’d like to drink or they can mix something up for you without alcohol, even if it’s not on the menu,” she says. “We’re just encouraging more places to be thoughtful of it because a lot of people don’t want to just order a Shirley Temple at the bar.”

Whether you’d like to challenge yourself by trying “Dryuary,” a month-long break from alcohol, or you would like to keep it going year-round, Hutson wants to remind everyone that cocktails and mocktails can coexist, meaning everyone can get together and enjoy each other’s company, no matter if they’re drinking or not.

“I never want people to feel judged if they do drink because it can be done in moderation,” she adds, “but I think bars are really encouraged now to provide non-alcoholic options as well.”

Looking for a great mocktail that everyone can enjoy this holiday season? Look no further than this seasonally red concoction:

Pomegranate Orange Fresca

Serves: 1

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounces spring water
  • 3 ounces pomegranate juice
  • 3 ounces sparkling pomegranate soda
  • 3 ounces fresh orange juice

Mix all ingredients, pour over ice and garnish with fresh orange slices.    

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