Drinking Without the Buzz


Today marks my 23rd day straight without a drink. No wine, no beer, no cocktails, not even a spritzer to speak of. No chip to celebrate on the horizon, either. This period of abstention has not been voluntary, but rather came about due to some health issues. I’m fine now and actually headed towards my first drink after work today (before you start feeling too sorry for me).

It’s probably the longest I’ve gone without a drink since I started drinking. While most of this dry spell was spent feeling way too crappy to even think about wanting a drink, this last home stretch has started to feel a little, well, dry.

Apparently, I’m not the only one putting some thought into drinking sans alcohol. On the way out of the office yesterday I nabbed the latest issue of Bon Appetit to read on the subway and somewhere between the Chambers and Fulton Street stops, came across a 2-page spread all about fancy-shmancy virgin libations being whipped up by mixologists across the country.

image via indiatimes.com

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about a drink that requires muddling and mixing without the reward of a nice little buzz, but it certainly caught my attention. Indeed, it seems that non-alcoholic beverages may be in the middle of a dramatic upswing of popularity. Juice bars have sprouted across New York City in the past few months in much the same fashion as so many cupcake shops circa 2009.

Organic Avenue, just one of many NYC cold-pressed juiceries (image via Organic Avenue)

What does this mean for the booze biz? Are kale-infused cocktails on the horizon? Can we soon expect bar menus that tout the health benefits of various tipples? The New Yorker just reported one local restaurant’s foray into a kelp-centric dinner that included, you betcha, kelpy cocktails just to round things out.

Perhaps it has less to do with health and more to do with the current obsession for obscure, novel, and new tastes (see Cronuts). In wine, that fascination is manifesting in wines made from flat out weird and indigenous varieties or from far flung locales. In cocktails, it seems, the trend is toward experimenting with a wide range of the bizarre and even mixing up drinks that’ll get you home straight after knocking back a few.

For me, as I look forward to my first sip of wine (because, of course it will be wine!) in more than three weeks, it’s the ritual that I look forward to most. It is that which I know I can expect that beckons me back – the opening of the bottle, a waft of winey perfume, the first swish of it across my tongue, the promise and thrill of discovery and surprise that is intrinsic to every bottle of wine.

Now all I’ve got to do is remember to sip slowly.

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