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Why the hot new alcohol trend is cutting back — or even quitting

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Why the hot new alcohol trend is cutting back — or even quitting

For Liz Mantel, the wake-up call came when she lost her job last September.

She had worked for years as a client manager in advertising, an industry where, she said, “boozing is a prerequisite for the job.”

“Agencies have bars in the office, and you’re always entertaining clients,” said the 30-year-old from Williamsburg, Brooklyn. “[Before the pandemic,] every day included alcohol of some kind — for the job, for dating, for friends.”

Then she lost her job because of the pandemic. Her romantic relationship came to an end. And suddenly she wasn’t spending boozy nights out with friends and colleagues anymore. Mantel decided it was time to “get off the hamster wheel, be more mindful and reassess what I’m doing to my body.”

It started with a 30-day break from alcohol that’s now lasted six months. But now that the weather is warming up and people are getting vaccinated, she didn’t want to give up a good time.

Mantel is one of countless sober-curious New Yorkers fueling the post-pandemic “zero proof” movement: an explosion of booze-free drinks, bottle shops and bars putting a chic spin on teetotaling.

A recent study by the American Psychological Association reported that nearly a quarter of adults were drinking more to manage stress during the pandemic. But, for some, drinking has only exacerbated their physical and mental health problems.

Many, like Mantel, realized they were overdoing it.

“People reexamined a lot of things in their life [over the past year], including how much they drank alcohol,” said Sam Thonis, who opened the booze-free pub Getaway Bar in Greenpoint in 2019. (It turned into a coffee shop and alcohol-free general store during the pandemic, and Thonis plans the bar’s return sometime this spring.)

“I heard somebody put it this way,” he added. “‘COVID wouldn’t make you an alcoholic, but if you had a drinking problem COVID would let you know.’”

Even Chrissy Teigen announced her new sobriety in December, fueled by reading the book “Quit Like a Woman: The Radical Choice to Not Drink in a Culture Obsessed with Alcohol” by New Yorker Holly Whitaker. “I was done with making an ass of myself in front of people (I’m still embarrassed), tired of day drinking and feeling like s–t by 6, not being able to sleep,” Teigen said of her decision.

Meanwhile, some New Yorkers found themselves drinking less since they weren’t going out — and not missing it.

“The pandemic became an opportunity to explore sobriety because there was no social pressure to drink,” said Brooklynite Julia Bainbridge, author of recent release “Good Drinks: Alcohol-Free Recipes for When You’re Not Drinking for Whatever Reason” (Ten Speed Press).

And, as with many pandemic trends (at-home workout equipment, stylish casual wear), the booze-free boom has created business opportunities.

Brooklyn Brewery introduced a pair of non-alcoholic beers, Special Effects IPA and Hoppy Amber, late last year. The Williamsburg brewery has been joined by countless other craft brewers offering beers without the buzz.  

Bottle shops such as Spirited Away on the trendy Lower East Side and Boisson in family-friendly Cobble Hill opened in recent months —offering an ever-growing array of non-alcoholic beers, wines and spirits.

And it’s not just local boutiques behind the trend. Whole Foods Markets sells a growing selection of zero-proof products, too.

Douglas Watters opened Spirited Away in November. He said the zero-proof movement was bubbling under for the past couple years but that the pandemic “was like pouring gas on the fire and the trend exploded.”

Barrie Arnold had the idea to open his shop, Boisson, in January. The pandemic forced the software salesman to confront his own connection with alcohol after he left New York City for Florida when the lockdown kicked in last spring.

“I lost a relationship, I lost my job and I lost the city that I love all within two weeks of each other,” said Arnold, 39, who returned to New York City in September. “I found it better to deal with life without alcohol on my plate.”

The choice to avoid alcohol … is suddenly a lot more normalized. People no longer think you have some sort of sob story.

John DeBary, former bar director of Momofuko

He’s now opened a second spot in Greenwich Village and is planning a third on the Upper East Side.

Among the offerings at Boisson are alcohol-free Rasavada spirits in flavors like Rose Bergamot and Black Ginger ($40 for 375ML), and Kentucky ’74 ($40 for 750ML — a “bourbon” from the Bluegrass State. It’s fermented and distilled just like any other bourbon, then reverse-distilled to remove all but the smallest traces of alcohol (0.5%) while retaining its classic flavor.

Brooklyn journalist Elva Ramirez, author of the new book “Zero Proof: 90 Non-Alcoholic Recipes for Mindful Drinking” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), said the social disruptions of the past year helped people “reassess their relationship with alcohol” — and that it’s easier than ever to feel accepted if you’re sober.

“American social culture is a drinking culture,” said Ramirez. “We’ve always been suspicious of people who don’t drink. What’s different now is that there’s a deluge of new products on the market and the fact that [not drinking] is seen as an individual choice, not something to be ashamed of.”

John deBary, the former bar director for Momofuku restaurant group, agreed. In July, he launched Proteau, a line of non-alcoholic botanical spirits available online and at a growing number of New York City cocktail bars.

“The choice to avoid alcohol for one night or for the rest of your lie is suddenly a lot more normalized,” said deBary. “People no longer think you have some sort of sob story when choose to forego alcohol.”

For many zero-proof adherents, the movement is more about moderation than total sobriety.

Diana Pawlik, a consumer brand consultant from the Upper West Side, said drinking was “a massive part of my social life” in the pre-pandemic world.

But lockdown isolation inspired her to consider her health and reduce her alcohol consumption.

She began mixing non-alcoholic cocktails at home, often blending juice with shrubs — a concentrated syrup made of vinegar, fruit and sugar, often used in cocktails — and said that drinking alcohol in moderation has only heightened her appreciation for it.

The gin-based raspberry gimlet she enjoyed recently at King restaurant in the West Village “was the best cocktail I’ve ever had,” Pawlik said. “Every morsel, every sip, means more now that I’m drinking less.”

Author Ramirez still enjoys martinis and gin and tonics, “much the same way I still eat dairy,” she said. “But I know if I eat too much ice cream it will make me sick.”

The city’s first zero-proof pub, the pop-up Listen Bar, arrived in Williamsburg in the fall of 2018, and then appeared in other locations around the city. It offered much more than Shirley Temples, the sober-man mainstay cranberry and soda — or the dreaded O’Doul’s — instead focusing on creative cocktails (“mocktails” is seen as a derisive term in the industry) like the Ghost Me Maybe, an refreshing blend of grapefruit, rosemary and Thomas Henry Slim Tonic Water.

“Some people still get uncomfortable out at a bar with a friend who doesn’t like drinking,” said Listen Bar founder Lorelei Bandrovschi of Bushwick. “But the culture is changing. The language is changing. It’s more acceptable to go out drinking and not order alcohol.”

According to Ramirez, a UK-based product called Seedlip “revolutionized” the booze-free space when it debuted in London in 2015.

Founder Ben Branson began distilling non-alcohol spirits at home using herbs grown in his own garden. In 2019, just four years after Branson introduced his first handmade batch of 1,000 bottles, Seedlip was scooped up by global liquor giant Diageo.

Other major liquor companies, including AB InBev, which makes global brands such as Budweiser and Stella Artois, have also invested heavily in the zero-proof market in recent months.

While the “low to no-proof” segment accounts for just 3 percent of the total alcohol market, that number is expected to grow by 31 percent by 2024, according to global research firm IWSR Drinks Market Analysis.

Ramirez’s book highlights scores of booze-free recipes, many of them created right here in New York. 

The Olive Highball, from mixologist Maxime Belfrand at upscale restaurant Saxon + Parole on the Bowery, blends Seedlip Garden 108, flavored with rosemary, thyme and spearmint, with non-alcoholic sparkling wine and Fever-Tree tonic water. Ramirez likens it to an effervescent dirty martini.

Meanwhile, the Umami and Daddy is “the drink you make to show off at parties,” said Ramirez. Created by Will Wyatt of East Village cocktail boite Mister Paradise, it features clear tomato liquid and the juice of unripe grapes.

Wyatt himself is in the process of opening the casual eatery Electric Burrito next month, also in the East Village. It will feature non-alcoholic sodas he makes from kitchen waste such as lime skins or tomato runoff. 

Meanwhile, Mantel, the Brooklyn advertising exec, is returning to her social life to find a whole new world of sophisticated booze-free drinking options.

Her new favorite is the mango “margarita” ($12) at Sunday in Brooklyn, a smart neighborhood restaurant in Williamsburg.

“It’s so cool,” said Mantel. “I plan to bring all my friends here now since I know it’s a place I can drink.”

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Europe carbon prices expected to soar amid tougher climate goals

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Steam rises from the cooling towers of the coal power plant of RWE, one of Europe's biggest electricity and gas companies in Niederaussem, Germany, March 3, 2016.

LONDON – Carbon prices in the European Union’s emissions trading system are expected to rise significantly in the next decade due to tougher climate goals, market participants said in an industry survey published on Monday.

The EU’s emissions trading system (ETS) is the largest carbon market in the world, covering around 45% of the bloc’s output of greenhouse gases and charging emitters for every tonne of carbon dioxide they emit.

The survey by the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) found members expect carbon prices in the EU ETS to average $57 a tonne between 2021 and 2025 and $71.06 a tonne between 2026 and 2030.

This is mainly due to a tougher EU goal of cutting emissions by at least 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.

Last year’s survey predicted an average price of 31.71 euros a tonne for the third phase of the ETS which runs from 2021 to 2030. Benchmark prices in the ETS currently trade around $64.24 a tonne.

Britain’s domestic emissions trading scheme started trading in May this year. The majority of survey respondents expect it will link with the EU scheme by 2023.

Participants anticipate that the average global carbon price needed by 2030 to put the world on track to meet goals to curb global temperature rise is $76.61 a tonne, up from last year’s expectation of $67.84 a tonne.

IETA’s members include banks, exchanges and energy and industrial firms. The association received responses from 158 member representatives for the survey.

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Chicago man jumps into Lake Michigan for 365th straight day

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Dan O'Conor, the "Great Lake Jumper," makes his 365th leap into Lake Michigan, Saturday, June 12, 2021, in Chicago's Montrose Point.

CHICAGO — A Chicago bus driver looking for a way to relieve stress during the coronavirus pandemic jumped into Lake Michigan for a 365th straight day on Saturday.

Dan O’Conor said he started jumping into the lake at Montrose Harbor on the city’s North Side last year to relieve stress.

“It was during the pandemic, it was during the protest, it was during an election year. … So it was somewhere where I could come down here and block all that noise out and kind of be totally present with me in the lake, and find some moments of Zen,” said the father of three.

He continued jumping into the lake through the fall before the hard part: Hacking a hole in the ice on the frozen lake that was big enough for him to jump through during the winter. He said when he got home after one such jump, he found about 20 scrapes and cuts on his body.

Dan O'Conor, the "Great Lake Jumper," reacts after making his 365th leap into Lake Michigan, Saturday, June 12, 2021.
Dan O’Conor, the “Great Lake Jumper,” reacts after making his 365th leap into Lake Michigan. He says he started as a way to “find some moments of Zen” during a tumultuous year.
AP

He was encouraged by the response he got for his undertaking.

“People started asking me what this was benefiting and how they could support — and when I say people, I’m talking strangers online, you know. When I started posting the videos on Twitter and Instagram … I got more wind in my sails there because people started commenting like, ’This makes my day, it’s nice to see this,” he said.

Saturday was special because it was the culmination of doing it for a full year.

“I just wanted to celebrate just that drive to dive for 365,” O’Conor said.

Dan O'Conor, the "Great Lake Jumper," shares a "High-5" with one of his well-wishers after his 365th leap into Lake Michigan, Saturday, June 12, 2021, in Chicago's Montrose Point.
O’Conor celebrates with one of his well-wishers after his 365th leap into Lake Michigan.
AP

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Father of ‘world’s largest family’ dead at 76 in India

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FILE PHOTO: Ziona poses for a picture in Baktawng village in the northeastern Indian state of Mizoram

The purportedly most prolific father in the world has passed away. 

Ziona Chana, 76, died on Sunday in the northeastern Indian state of Mizoram, the BBC reported. Chana, who was the head of a polygamist Christian sect, is survived by an estimated 38 wives, 89 children and 36 grandchildren — thus making him, by some reports, the head of the “world’s largest family” during his lifetime. 

“With heavy heart, #Mizoram bid farewell to Mr. Zion…believed to head the world’s largest family, with 38 wives and 89 children,” Mizoram’s chief minister, Zoramthanga, tweeted in condolence on Sunday. “Mizoram and his village at Baktawng Tlangnuam has become a major tourist attraction in the state because of the family. Rest in Peace Sir!”

Chana was declared dead on arrival at a hospital Sunday after deteriorating at his home, doctors told the news agency PTI, according to the BBC. He allegedly suffered from both diabetes and hypertension. 

During his extreme life, Chana made headlines across the globe, and he and his record-breakingly large family’s mansion in Baktawng Tlangnuam became a local attraction. The four-story, 100-room home features a dormitory shared by Chana’s wives, located close to his private bedroom, according to past media reports. 

ziona-chana-family
A view of Chana’s four-story house in the northeastern Indian state of Mizoram on Oct. 6, 2011.
REUTERS

Reuters previously reported that Chana was born in 1945 and met his oldest wife, who’s three years his senior, at the age of 17. The sect he led, Chana Pawl, has approximately 2,000 followers and was founded by Chana’s grandfather in 1942. 

While Chana and his family have been twice featured on the TV series “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” others have challenged him to the title of most plentiful patriarch, and his alleged 181-person household’s exact number is difficult to confirm. 

“Reports are different. Quoting the last known accepted record with locally accepted picture. Thanks and regards !” Zoramthanga noted in a reply to his initial tweet. 

Chana at age 66 in 2011.

REUTERS

FILE PHOTO: Family members of Ziona poses for group photograph outside their residence in village Baktawng

Family members of Chana pose for a group photograph outside their residence on Oct. 7, 2011.

REUTERS

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