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TLSE Picks: Non-Alcoholic Alternatives for FebFast

We are known the world over for being a culture of heavy drinkers so it may come as a surprise to discover that the "sober curious" movement is increasing in popularity here in Australia and for some Aussies has become a complete lifestyle choice. Even celebs such as Phoebe Burgess, Elyse Knowles, and Kayla Itsines have proudly adopted the sober curious lifestyle.

WTAF is "sober curious"?

Being Sober Curious doesn't mean you have to adopted a strict teetotal lifestyle, but rather means you're taking a mindful approach to drinking, recognising and understanding the reasons why you're drinking in the first place and identifying whether or not you even need to consume an alcoholic beverage at all.

I don't really think of myself as sober curious, and I guess you could called me an enthusiastic drinker when it comes to a night out with my friends. However, 2023 marks my 5th year in a row of participating in FebFast and whilst many of my friends don't go too hard on me, others cannot imagine going 4 weeks without a drop of alcohol and have absolutely no interest ever in participating themselves.

Why would they?

Well, health benefits aside, and there are many including a better quality of sleep, improved gut health, clearer skin, weight loss, etc., taking a month off drinking allows me the opportunity to reflect on the reasons why I drink. Of course there are the obvious ones - like the fact that wine is really f*ing delicious.

Then there is alcohol as a social lubricant. Get a group of likeminded adults together, add alcohol and you're almost guaranteed a barrel of laughs and a really fun time. Some of my favourite memories of my early 20s fall into this category, as does the annual school Parent's Night.

But what about the not so palatable reasons, such as waking up with serious hangxiety after a big session, or drinking to cope? I'm sure everyone at some stage in their life has needed or will need a drink to take the edge off a particularly stressful day or event. Truth be told, I'm currently in the midst of getting divorced and I can clearly see how easy it would be to disappear into a bottle of wine on the night's I have had to deal some particularly serious sh!t. Luckily, thanks mostly to my sheer determination that that won't be my children's memories of their childhood, this hasn't been the case so far.

But don't worry, I'm not holier than thou and I am fully aware that February happens to be the shortest month of the year, so it's definitely no coincidence that I choose to do FebFast over Dry July or Sober October. Although there are a couple of other reasons as well...

Firstly, I'm a mother of three school-aged children and two out of three mid-year school holidays happen to fall in July and October, so it would be unrealistic (and supremely unfair) to commit to being alcohol-free whilst away on holidays with friends or family.

Secondly, the month of February lands straight after what is a very social period, which extends from Christmas Party season at the beginning of December until (at least) Australia Day on the 26th of January. It seems to be the same every year, that no matter how disciplined I have been throughout the year with exercise and no mid-week drinking, the wheels always tend to come off the nearer we get to the holidays. But who can blame me, really? I live in Sydney where the festive season usually comes with a side of amazing weather and plenty of beach time.

So what to drink instead?

Impressively, my Mum has been off the booze for quite a few years now. It has been an impressive feat but even so she still doesn't feel completely at ease without a glass of wine in her hand when she's in a social setting where others are drinking. Luckily for her (and me, one month each year), the Sober Curious movement brings with it an increasingly drinkable selection of non-alcoholic alternatives, so I picked her brain for her favourites...

Made in Germany, Henkell Alkoholfrei offers the enjoyment of sparkling-wine for those who prefer not to drink alcohol.

The bright bottle announces its pleasantly light, fruity-fresh flavour straight away – and is an invitation to raise a glass not only on special occasions. The natural cork denotes the highest quality standards it aspires to.

The Heaps Normal Non-Alcoholic Quiet XPA tastes like a delicious, refreshing beer. Tropical and citrus aroma with a lingering and unmistakably beery finish. Unfiltered, with balanced bitterness and a subtle malt sweetness, reminiscent of your old pals.

Made from their premium, full-strength New Zealand wine, Giesen 0% keeps all the best qualities of Giesen Estate Pinot Gris. It’s aromatically expressive, crisp, and refreshing, with the varietal characteristics you know and love… only with the alcohol gently removed.

Made with high quality 100 per cent Pinot Noir grapes the wine presents as perfectly pale in the glass and full of red fruit aromas with savoury hints. The palate delivers bright berry flavours with a hint of sweetness and the influence of tannins filling out the dry finish. Serve chilled with an Indian feast.

Since 1966, Wolf Blass has been committed to making quality wines. The winemakers’ knowledge and dedication has delivered this pioneering zero range, so you can always enjoy a glass of wine. Lifted red fruit and dark plum, with a hint of white pepper and spice from oak. The palate has red fruit, chalky tannins, and nice texture.

A floral blend of Peas & Hay w/ traditional garden herb distillates in celebration of the English countryside. To make a delicious non-alcoholic drink, pour 50ml of Seedlip Garden 108 over ice, top w/ tonic & garnish w/ a Sugar Snap Pea or Mint sprig.

Non-alcoholic alternatives of your favourite drinks are sold in all good bottle shops, including Dan Murphy's or online at Sans Drinks, and even most pubs now. Now you can enjoy your Friday nights AND your Saturday mornings.


WORDS | Emma Douglass



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