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March 22, 2018

The Sobriety Movement Will Evolve From Fringe Interest

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In the past, if someone said they were "sober," it usually meant they were a recovering alcoholic. But over the past few years, a shift has started to occur. We've seen Americans put more focus on health, and the next frontier is our drinking habits.

In the last year especially, helmed by wellness influencers like Light Watkins and Biet Simkin (both mbg class instructors) the sobriety movement has presented itself as one solution for the growing dissatisfaction we have with our lack of real, genuine connection and/or careers that don't challenge and energize us.

Biet, a musician and meditation expert, believes substances actually disconnect us from our true selves, making sobriety not just beneficial but actually a prerequisite to finding and fulfilling our purpose. "Having explored alcohol and drugs in some depth myself, I know that they don't propagate intentional living. When substances get involved, the experience you have tends to get farther and farther from the experience you intended to have." So, what does she say to people who think they need "liquid courage" to be honest—for whom alcohol is a means of facilitating intimacy? "Vulnerability requires authenticity, and authenticity requires vulnerability. Neither of these outcomes is encouraged by the crutch of substances."

We've already seen that spark of insight catch on, as evidenced by the popularity of events like DAYBREAKER (a prework dance party that made mbg's 2015 trend watch) and mindfulness/music/meditation event The Shine (the brainchild of meditation leader Light Watkins).
The popularity of these alcohol-free shindigs is only growing, and in 2017, we'll see even more of a shift toward mindful interactions and refreshing alternatives to booze. Bellwether cities like LA and NYC are already gaining momentum, propelled by trendsetting watering holes and restaurants eager to catch the wave. In New York alone, high-end bar and eatery Gabriel Kreuther has added a selection of nonalcoholic drinks to their cocktail menu, and farm-to-table resto Riverpark is offering Temperance Coolers, inspired by and composed of local, seasonal ingredients—just like everything else on the menu. But this isn't just an East Coast thing.

At the opposite end of the country in San Francisco and Oakland, breweries like Copenhagen-based Mikkeller are beginning to cater to the connoisseur who wants to enjoy the experience of a well-crafted beer without the buzz. Mikkeller's Drink'in The Sun 13 rates at just 0.26 ABV, but features flavors as rich and diverse as lemon, grapefruit, peach, and apricot. At the same alcohol level, Drink'in The Snow gives you a holiday flavor profile complete with clove, coriander, and orange.

This year, we'll see the availability and variety of nonalcoholic options expand even further. Along with that, we can expect our choices to become more intentional and better integrated with our long-term dreams and goals. Founder of alcohol-free movement One Year No Beer, Ruari Fairbairns has experienced this change personally and has seen it in other converts of the program as well: "I'd always dreamed of achieving so much, and part of me suspected the booze was holding me back. Now I can say with absolute authority, 'The booze was holding you back, mate.'"
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