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For a lot of people, there’s a certain stigma when it comes to being sober—something that’s looked down upon as being different and out of the ordinary. After all, being sober means you certainly can’t have any fun and you must be terribly serious all the time, right? 

How to Be Sober and Keep Your Friends, $19.01 on Amazon

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Wrong. That couldn’t be more far from the case, Flic Everett, a UK sober journalist, has found in her new book “How to Be Sober and Keep Your Friends.” In the book, she sets out to discover how to be sober and remain the absolute life of the party. The book is a far cry from anything traditionally serious, providing cheeky and optimistic suggestions on what to drink instead of alcohol while you’re out (a Shirley Temple, for one) and how to answer the looming question of “Why aren’t you drinking?” (try: “I really need a break from it at the moment). Overall, Flic is undeniably hoping to erase the negative stereotypes of being sober and instead highlighting both the growing sober curious movement and the health benefits of living an alcohol-free lifestyle. 

Related Reading: How to Build a Non-Alcoholic or Low-Alcoholic Bar Cart

To see the kinds of topics Flic covers in her book, check out the excerpt below. She provides a slew of helpful hints on how to quit the bottle (it’s not as easy as simply throwing your collection in the trash). Plus, keep reading for a recipe for a Virgin Mary (aka, a virgin Bloody Mary), which is just as delightful sans the vodka.

Excerpted with permission from “How to Be Sober and Keep Your Friends” by Flic Everett, published by Quadrille December 2019, RRP $19.99 hardcover.

Tips to Help You on Your Way

For the first few days or weeks, if you’re used to drinking every night (or most nights, or days), you need to make it as easy as possible on yourself. Here’s how…

Chuck Out the Booze

If you’re giving up smoking, you don’t carry a battered pack around in your pocket, just in case. (Or if you do, that’s why it hasn’t worked.) So having white wine in the fridge ‘for guests’ or a cocktail cabinet of weird holiday liqueurs is an absolute guarantee that at some point you’ll decide a small one won’t hurt. Throw them out. Don’t think of it as a waste of money – think of it as chucking a whole bunch of nauseous hangovers down the sink.

If Your Partner or Housemate Still Drinks…

If they aren’t quitting along with you, there will be booze. You could ask them to drink something you really don’t like for a week or so (for instance, there is nothing about cans of warm bitter or a flinty sauvignon that appeals to me). But if you like everything, designate a section of the fridge or cupboard ‘X’s booze shelf’ and tell yourself that having any would be stealing. It is not your booze.

Don’t Go Out

No, really. Bars, restaurants, friends’ houses – they’re all drinking triggers. The exception is the theatre or cinema – but that’s expensive. I suggest downloading a few immersive box sets, like The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, Spiral, The Bridge – anything that will take your mind off sociable drinking and fill up an evening.

Reward Yourself

After a long day, it’s natural to want a drink. So stock up on other rewards instead – nonalcoholic drinks like Seedlip, expensive hot chocolate or fancy tea or coffee. Or promise yourself a country walk, a new book, an hour in a hot bath, an uninterrupted podcast… It has to be something you’ll look forward to so that the evening doesn’t slip away leaving you bored and unfulfilled.

Find a ‘Sober Buddy’

Maybe a friend is quitting too – or you know someone who stopped a while ago. Having a person you can call or text for support when you’re craving a drink can make all the difference. In AA these are known as ‘sponsors’ but even if you’re just trying to manage your wine habit a bit, having someone to call who isn’t murmuring ‘you’re no fun any more’ can be a huge help.

Change Your Routine

If you always go for a drink on Fridays, or you and your partner like to open a bottle of wine on a Saturday night, don’t try and do the same thing, but just without booze – do something altogether different for a while. Go bowling or to the cinema, visit a booze-free café for an early dinner, watch TV while you eat, try making mocktails, go for a long walk with sandwiches and a Thermos of tea… yes, your weekend may be a bit like a sheltered 15-year-old’s weekend in 1956, but that’s no bad thing. They had fun too, you know.

Keep a Diary

Not a ‘Dear Diary, today I didn’t drink again’ kind of diary, but one that is purely for noting triggers. So if you’re struggling, write down when the craving strikes. Was it when you discovered your ex was dating again? When you came in starving and couldn’t be bothered to cook? When your housemate poured a big glass of pinot? All of the above? Knowing what drives your desire to drink is key to being able to distract yourself at the right moment, and plan ahead for when the triggers strike.

Virgin Mary Recipe

This is a stormer of a breakfast cocktail to wake you up – you don’t really need the vodka at all. Drink in crisp cotton pyjamas sitting on a balcony with your new love. Or in bed alone with the cat and the papers.

Virgin Mary

Ingredients
  • 3-4 ice cubes
  • 110ml / 4fl oz tomato juice
  • 5ml / 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 5ml / 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp horseradish (creamed from a jar is fine, but fresh would be best if you can get hold of it)
  • 1-3 drops Tabasco sauce
  • Sprinkle of celery salt
  • Black pepper
  • Celery stick, to garnish
Instructions
  1. Put the ice cubes into a highball glass.
  2. Add all the other ingredients to taste – start with just 1 drop of Tabasco and add more if you want it very spicy.
  3. Stir and add the celery stick.

Header image courtesy of Kim Lightbody.

Amy Schulman is an associate editor at Chowhound. She is decidedly pro-chocolate.
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