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A drinks-free start to the year

A drinks-free start to the year

Things I like: a chilled glass of sauvignon blanc just about any evening, a crisp IPA on a sunny patio, creative cocktails with a vodka base, mulled wine by a fireplace on a chilly night. I like catching up with friends in trendy bars, secret speakeasies, laid-back pubs. I like to sip a glass of wine after a long day.

Christine Amorose at Place des Vosges, Paris, France

Namely, I enjoy a drink. I don’t drink every day, or every weekend, but it’s rare that a week goes by (especially in New York City) without a glass of wine or a weekend without a vodka-cran. I love the social scene in the city, but drinks don’t come cheap and mornings aren’t easy: when nights don’t usually start until 11 p.m. and the dance floors don’t shut down until 5 a.m. (and the subway runs all night), my weekends are often nocturnal and a massive drain on my wallet.

It’s not a lifestyle that I embrace when I’m traveling. I’m not comfortable drinking much when I’m traveling by myself in a new city. Backpacker “heavens” with cheap drinks and all-night parties don’t tempt me. But in New York, I have friends and a life to build–and that means birthdays, event openings, live shows and endless reasons to go out.

For the past couple of years, I’ve been wanting to do an alcohol-free month. But there always seemed to be an excuse: a birthday, a going-away party, the entire season of summer calling for a cold beer.

Instead of celebrating the New Year with girlfriends in San Francisco, I ended up switching my flight to red-eye into New York City on New Year’s Eve (I needed an extra day to sort out moving before I go back into the office). While I’ll surely be groggy, I’ll be waking up (for the second year in a row–last year I flew into Bali!) without a hangover on New Year’s Day.

And so if not now, then when? So I won’t be drinking for the month of January. Part of it is just to challenge myself: can I resist the peer pressure, the social culture I’ve built around alcohol, the urge to sink into a glass of wine after a hard day? Another significant part is financial: the money I’m spending on drinks could go to making my new apartment into a beautiful space that inspires and relaxes me. There’s also the health issue: what’s the good of eating well and doing yoga every weeknight if I’m just going to binge on drinks and greasy food on the weekends? And, to be fair, I hate waking up with half the day gone with a massive headache and an empty wallet: I’m naturally a morning person, but not even waking up to natural sunlight can rouse me after I’ve been dancing until dawn.

So instead I’ll be waking up early Saturday mornings to paint my room, to go thrifting for furniture gems, maybe to squeeze in a run across the Williamsburg Bridge. I’ve got a volunteer orientation one Sunday, a knife skills course another: putting my 2013 resolutions into action. There are museums to visit, cafes to curl up in with a coffee and a copy of The New York Times. I’ll still be catching up with friends on Friday and Saturday nights–but maybe over homemade lasagne or baking cookies instead of a bar.

 Cheers to 2013–with a sparkling water and lime, of course! 

Have you ever had an alcohol-free month? What were the challenges and benefits? 

  • I think this is an awesome idea! Personally, I don’t really drink much ever (and really never right now, while I’m pregnant!) but I definitely get it! I’ve had friends get frustrated with me for not drinking and I can see where it’d be easy to do it, just for a social interaction if nothing else, far more often.

  • Georgia

    Good luck! I think it’s a great idea. I went completely teetotal for a good 6 months, and can’t say I particularly missed alcohol.
    I know have the occasional cider or cocktail but I very rarely drink properly. I hate the sensation of being drunk, but like Sarabell, I’ve had friends get annoyed at me for choosing not to drink, normally I now just tell them I’m on antibiotics, or if that fails, pretend that my cranberry juice has vodka in it.

  • Georgia

    now* silly typo.

  • Caroline Eubanks

    I did it last March and it’s a great idea. I might make it a yearly thing! Good luck.

  • Alicia C

    I think I might do this too! Although I have 5 beers in my fridge. I wonder what to do with them?? I know no one who drinks the beer I drink…

  • Ashlee

    Can I just comment on how much I LOVE that photo of you? Seriously.

    I was sober for about 8 of the 9 months of pregnancy (oops! that first month was a little questionable), and while I’m not a huge drinker to begin with, it was challenging in social settings to be the ONLY one not drinking. I remember two occasions when I was out with my girlfriends and everyone was tipsy and silly and laughing at jokes that weren’t funny and it was a little annoying. Then again, I was pretty preggo at that point and easily irritated…

    Good luck with your month of sobriety, let us know how it goes!

  • Shireen

    Oh I have tried to do this many times since college. As I’ve gotten older, it’s becoming harder to “stick to it” for the whole month. Inevitably peer pressure caves my intentions or I have just a half bottle of sauv blanc left in my fridge that I MUST DRINK lest it go bad… (Ha. Lame excuses.) But a month of cleansing, waking up early and actually taking advantage of a weekend rather than lounging in bed with movies and junk food will make you feel great inside and out. I applaud you!! Personally, rather than trying to eliminate alcohol entirely, I’m limiting myself to a few drinks on a few special occasions.

  • Erica

    Once in a while during my junior and senior years of college, I would go through sober quarters, not because I had to or anything, just because I didn’t feel like drinking any more jungle juice or natty light or boxed wine (we were classy). At first, I would cover it up by telling people that I was drinking a rum and coke (and trying to make it convincing by putting a lemon wedge in my coke), but after a while my friends just got used to me not drinking and would ask “are you drinking yet?” before pouring me a drink. It’ll get easier with time, though not drinking doesn’t mean you can’t still go out dancing until 5am 😉 Good Luck!

  • camorose

    Yeah, I think the social thing is the hardest–the easiest excuse to get together with friends is usually to meet up for a drink. Personally, however, I am very excited for the idea of going out and just having a ginger ale or Pellegrino, saving money and feeling great in the morning!

  • camorose

    At the end of the night a lot of times, I order a ice water with lime in a bar glass–friends still think I’m drinking vodka-soda and I’m able to sober up/stop the “drunk” feeling and get a little more hydrated. Win win!

  • camorose

    Thanks! Actually really looking forward to it 🙂

  • camorose

    Beer won’t go bad in a month! No harm in leaving it there for a drink in February 🙂

  • camorose

    Thank you! Was a lovely picnic in Paris until they told us we couldn’t drink alcohol there–oops!
    I don’t know how much I’ll “go out” this month–I’ve had other nights where I don’t want to drink as much as everyone else, and I usually call it a night pretty early just because I’m not on the same level as everyone else. Looking forward to some early mornings and getting things done this month 🙂

  • camorose

    I’m definitely going to try and cut down on my drinking all year, but I think that no big nights out will really put me in a great frame of mind for the new year! We’ll see how it goes–I know I’ll be stoked to have a glass of sauv blanc in February!

  • camorose

    When I went to college, my mom always told me to at least take a red cup of beer–even if I didn’t drink it, no one would bother me because I had a drink in my hand. It’s seriously such a good trick–I used to nurse a drink ALL night if I didn’t feel like drinking much and no one would bother me!

  • Daniele

    I agree with all the above – social pressure is high when you’re someone that has alcohol embedded in social life 🙂
    I did the same in Nov 2011 and you can see who are your friends and who are the beer buddies.
    It was shocking also to realize how crazy is the center of Amsterdam on weekend nights: so many drunk people! I never noticed them before 😀

  • Kristine

    Good for you!! I’ve gone maybe 2 or 3 weeks without drinking, but never a month. I’ve been trying to save up for my next trip so I’ve been spending a lot of nights in, but as I type this I’m about to leave for a boozy brunch, so…

  • Megan Stroup

    Good luck!

  • camorose

    So true! I’m trying to find my friends who I can just meet up with to do something or get a coffee or have a dinner–where drinks aren’t required. Luckily, I’ve been able to find a few 🙂

  • camorose

    Haha it’s all about finding a balance… 🙂

  • camorose

    Thank you!

  • Good for you! I did a free-alcohol summer which was quite a challenge! I’m not sure why I decided to go for it, but I still feel tremendously proud of managing it without any issue. In clubs, I substituted alcohol for water, which kept my hands busy and my body hydrated.

    Reading your post makes me want to do it again this year! 🙂

  • camorose

    That would be tough–I love a cold beer in the summer! I’m quite enjoying it all so far–I might do another alcohol free month this year 🙂

  • I’m also not drinking. Although, I plan on doing it for longer than a month. But credit to you, even a month is tough to do when all your social functions involve a drink or two.

    Trust me, I know.

    I assume its part of your “take better care of my body” goal? Mine is also part of my fitness goals.

    Here’s to us, and drinking chilled water.

  • I haven’t tried it, but I love the idea. Good for you for starting off the year so healthy!

  • camorose

    I’m a good bit in, and it’s definitely shifting my feelings on drinking. I think it will be a while until I have a bit night of binging, although I will be quite happy to have a nice glass of wine or a cold beer once February hits!
    And it wasn’t really part of my goal to take better care of my body–honestly, it was more to save some money and avoid hangovers so that I could be a bit more productive on the weekends!

  • camorose

    Loving it so far! Really makes you take a close look at your social scene and what your priorities are.

  • Great challenge!!!

  • camorose

    Loving it so far!

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