Sober Happy Hour is a growing movement to continue socializing while drinking alcohol-free drinks. And it’s not as boring as some might think.
One of the hardest things, especially for people new to recovery from alcohol or drug abuse, is not just the adjustment to literal sobriety, but also the change in personal social rituals.
This is to be expected, and of course people in recovery should avoid old bar hangouts or relationships that drive self-destructive behavior for the sake of their own physical and mental health.
Fortunately, with so many people are embracing an alcohol free lifestyle, it makes it easy for anyone to find others to continue to socialize with.
Sober Happy Hour is one of several trends converging in a society-at-large that is adopting a move toward healthier, alcohol-free entertaining and relaxing.
What is a Sober Happy Hour?
Sober Happy Hour is exactly what it sounds like – taking time at the end of the day to spend with friends or even alone to unwind and relax – except without alcohol. Some people refer to it as Sober Cocktail Hour.
You might’ve already heard about Dry January, which got its start in the UK, around 2014. A nonprofit organization kicked off 30-day public awareness event as a way to help people gain some of the health benefits of sobriety, while also examining their relationship to alcohol.
It continues to be a popular annual ritual for people, some of whom choose to remain sober, while others find the month-long break from alcohol helps them drink less throughout the course of the year.
Sober Curious and Non-Alcoholic Drinks
We’re seeing an increase in the so called “Sober Curious” movement, with proponents like celebrity Chrissy Tiegen who blasted out to her 34 million plus Instagram followers that she’s given up drinking alcohol.
Emily Lynn Paulson, founder of the Sober Mom Squad, told the Chicago Tribune why Tiegen’s announcement was so unique, saying, “You don’t often see [a celebrity say], ‘Hey, I don’t like how alcohol is serving me so I’m going to go without it.'”
GQ Magazine contributor Gabriella Paiella penned an interesting article called “The Case for Sober Cocktail Hour,” in which she examines why carving out time each day to unwind and connect with friends and loved ones is an important and healthy ritual.
Finally, data proves there is an upsurge in the production and sale of alcohol-free and low-ABV (alcohol by volume) beverages.
Not only has there been an increase in non-alcoholic beer, but Nielsen IQ reported as early as 2018 that it’s “starting to see the launch of small-batch drinks which have been distilled, but are non-alcoholic.
While still small, they’re appearing in more and more bars, restaurants and shops and this is clearly helping to drive their growth.”
Is it Really Happy Hour Without Alcohol?
Many people who enjoy alcohol also enjoy the buzz it gives them. What they don’t enjoy is the fog or sluggishness that appears from hangover symptoms the next day. Talk to anyone who has cut back or stopped drinking altogether and they will tell you they don’t miss waking up feeling horrible in the morning.
Most wine aficionados savor their favorite varietals and are always looking for new ones to try and compare. The same is true for cocktail mixologists, who are continuously on the hunt for exciting recipes to try with the goal of creating their next favorite concoction.
Both wine and cocktails focus on glassware and other drinking paraphernalia that add sex appeal to the experience, and all of these details continue to play a role and make socializing enjoyable even without alcohol.
The social aspect of drinking is one of the happiest parts of happy hour, and with so many new non-alcoholic drinks entering the market, there are plenty of choices to experiment with and enjoy in the company of friends.
Alcohol-Free Happy Hour Drinks
While the above title sounds like something of an oxymoron, the truth is there are a growing number of non-alcoholic drink options complex enough to draw focus away from our daily stressors and compel interesting conversation.
ÆCorn Bitter is, as the name suggests, a bitter drink with citrusy notes of grapefruit, bay leaf and orange. The creators of ÆCorn Bitter suggest sipping it with a mix of sparkling water and ice.
The makers of Ghia, an alcohol-free aperitif, get to the heart of why they created this beverage. “[Ghia is] an invitation – to take a moment for yourself, to watch a sunset, to move from work into play, and to take care of your loved ones.”
Other Complex Alcohol-Free Drink Options Include:
- For Bitters or Worse, which makes several different flavors of non-alcoholic beverages
- TÖST, a dry, sparkling non-alcoholic drink
- Proteau, a line of rich, botanical leaning non-alcoholic beverages ready to drink straight from the bottle, without mixers
Sure, sampling new and delicious alcohol-free flavors is exciting in and of itself, but there is also a higher reward for skipping alcohol and embracing sober happy hours.
Benefits of Sober Happy Hour
Two main groups of people will reap the benefits of Sober Happy Hour:
- Social drinkers who don’t have addiction problems but want to cut back on alcohol for health reasons
- People in recovery who stopped drinking alcohol altogether and want to retain the social aspects of drinking with friends
Whether a person is in recovery, sober curious or simply scaling back their alcohol intake, the sober happy hour is a way to decompress in a more mindful, healthier way.
Even if it’s alone or in a social setting, the benefit of regularly taking this personal time can help lift our spirits and set our intentions on the things that matter to us the most.
Making room for, and normalizing sober happy hour can also de-stigmatize the need for some people to get help if they’re struggling with substance abuse issues.
Many people trying to overcome excessive alcohol consumption often feel a hopelessness that chains them to a cycle of depression, anxiety and substance abuse. From that perspective, it’s hard to imagine a fulfilling, substance-free lifestyle.
Luckily, addiction is treatable and recovery helps endless numbers of people become sober every year.
Sober Happy Hour may not help everyone get sober on their own, but it can certainly help many people remain alcohol-free once they get there.
For those who drink socially without a problem, and others who have a problem with drinking, embracing a sober happy hour can have an immense impact on overall health, better productivity at work or school, and a positive outlook on life in general. It’s definitely something worth trying for everyone who has a love affair with drinking and happy hour with friends.