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Project Best Life EP05: The New Temperance


It is no secret that reducing the amount of alcohol we consume can considerably improve our health.

Psychologists compare drinking alcohol to eating fried food. It is great while we do it, but it can have considerable adverse effects. 2020 has been a rough year, causing many to turn to alcohol for short-term relief, but we certainly pay for it when we lose our balance on the moderation tightrope. If we are conscious about the things we put on and in our bodies, from cashmere and skincare to local organic vegetables and free-range chicken, we may want to think twice about throwing it all away by overindulging in more than a few cocktails at dinner. A consumer-driven trend of making better choices shines a spotlight on non-alcoholic spirits, which can offer sophistication and flavor without adding extra calories or leaving you dehydrated. Alcohol is like a roller coaster for your blood sugar- and when it drops, we crave carbohydrates. If we can lower our high-carb intake and abstain from alcohol, we are far more likely to shed unwanted pounds. But people choose not to drink for as many reasons as they decide to drink. Some folks even abstain from alcohol entirely. As with most things in life, balance is everything.

I’ve crafted cocktails in the industry for over a decade and am always looking for great beverage offerings. I’m among those who still imbibe but are looking for a drink to prolong the party while maintaining composure and exploring different flavor combinations. I spoke with two women my age, each with a unique path to 0% ABV beverages:

Jessica Bennett, MS, RD, CDN is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who helps individuals and groups manage weight, health, food sensitivities, and other nutrition concerns. She believes that food is our first medicine, and our health and sleep can be drastically affected by what we eat. She is a teetotaler (and has never consumed alcohol.) She represents those who don’t imbibe at all.

Resident badass Lindsay Robson is the founder of Nickel City Pretty and Copper & Steel Chainmail. She stopped drinking alcohol and is now an advocate for “mocktails” She falls into the camp of those who no longer drink but appreciate and uphold the ritual by seeking out delicious non-alcoholic craft beverages. Check out her series, “Mocktails of WNY“.

Non-alcoholic spirits are inspiring a movement of sober living, which can be a gateway to transforming your life. Brands like Seedlip and Lyre’s attempt to create complex, nuanced flavors using seeds, barks, nuts, and botanicals via maceration and blending natural essences and extracts. Both brands offer low-calorie non-alcoholic distillates with natural flavors of botanicals, herbs, roots, and spices.

Want more information on how to make your own mocktails? Check out Buffalo Rising’s series BITTERS

Determining what your relationship with alcohol is can guide you to the product that will best serve you. If you are like Lindsay and still enjoy the taste of classic cocktails, Lyre’s offers a dozen unique flavors that embody the “spirit” of the real thing. Seedlip provides a fascinating botanical distillate with subtle notes that play well with cold-pressed juices or tonic water. Seedlip is ideal for someone like Jessica, who may have no reference for how a classic cocktail should taste. My favorite spirit substitute hails from Kin Euphorics. This brand boasts pleasure-priming drinks that nourish the brain and the endocrine system, providing an alternate route to relaxation and lowered inhibition. Kin’s approach combines Nootropics, which are cognitive enhancers (like supplements) that improve executive functions, i.e., memory, creativity, or motivation, with adaptogens like roots and herbs. These adaptogens help curve the effects of stress while fighting off the “Sunday Scaries.”

Honestly, it is ok to enjoy a beautifully crafted cocktail. Drinking brings us a little bit of joy and can temporarily relieve pain and relax us, but if it starts doing more harm than good, it might be time for a bit of analysis. Quitting or cutting down even for a short time can be beneficial. Sobriety offers a clearer mind to explore our attachment to alcohol and significantly increase our sleep quality and overall health. If you are sober curious, I invite you to ask yourself the following questions regarding your relationship with alcohol:

Is it prohibiting me from pursuing my dreams in any way?
Is it helping me live my best life?

At most bars, restaurants, and gatherings, our beverage options consist of water, sugary sodas, possibly NA beer, wine, and alcohol. There is a bar in Brooklyn that exclusively peddles non-alcoholic drinks. While I don’t see that happening in Buffalo any time soon, I hope more bars and restaurants will consider stocking items from Lyre’s, Seedlip, or Kin. The bottles and packaging of these NA spirits are just as sexy as those that hold any fine gin. If these products or suchlike are unavailable, try scanning the cocktail menu for fresh fruit and vegetable juice offerings. If the menu lacks description, ask your bartender for what you’d like. Your server may not have an accurate mental inventory of what is available or free of added preservatives or syrups and will likely send through an order that reads “mocktail.” Some teetotalers take offense to the word Mocktail (even though the drink itself is a mock-up of the cocktail and not the person ordering it.) Surely, there must be a better name for these drinks. Perhaps a title that will not smirch the individuals making decisions to better themselves? We can all be positive agents for change; we need only agree on what to call it.

Episode Five of this sponsored series. Produced in partnership with and exclusively for Project Best Life to empower people to take control of their lives, and take tangible steps to be their healthiest and happiest selves.

For more tips and inspiration to help live a healthy, happy and balanced life to the fullest, subscribe to the Project Best Life newsletter.

Project Best Life Instagram: @projectbestlife716 | Nickel City Pretty (Lindsay Robson) Instagram: @nickelcitypretty | Jessica Bennett Instagram: @thewellnessrd | Brigitte Beaujolais Instagram: @brigittebeaujolais

View other videos in the Project Best Life series 

Written by Michelle Merlo

Michelle Merlo

Michelle Merlo is a mixographer and food enthusiast. She helped run the cocktail program at Roost and Inizio. Before that, she was shaking up concoctions at Buffalo Distilling Company and Bobo in NYC. These days you can find her behind the pine at Oliver’s. Michelle is our resident cocktailier and the host of Buffalo Rising’s cocktail series, BITTERS

View All Articles by Michelle Merlo
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