How to Navigate Sober October and Beyond
Sober October is a 31-day challenge that originated as a way to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support. Whilst we don’t want to detract from this extremely worthy cause, the challenge has now hit the mainstream, with many of us contemplating how to moderate our drinking at this time of year, regardless of whether we are taking part in the fundraiser or not.
We thought it would be a good opportunity to remind you that you don’t need to cut alcohol out altogether to start a more mindful relationship with alcohol.
Whether you're looking to improve your health, save money, or simply have a better relationship with alcohol, there are plenty of benefits that come with moderating your consumption. That can be easier said than done, however. Fortunately, we’ve got a range of resources, not to mention non-alcoholic and lower ABV (alcohol by volume) options to help!
Get to Know No and Low
The no and low drinks category covers a larger range of options than you may think. At the moment, official UK guidelines state that these can be categorised and measured as follows:
- Alcohol free: must have all alcohol extracted and be under 0.05% ABV
- Non-alcoholic: 0.5% or less
- Low ABV: More than 0.5% and less than 1.2%
- Reduced alcohol: alcohol content lower than the average strength of the type of drink in question (such as a gin with 18% ABV versus 40% ABV)
If you’re sober or going sober for October, then naturally alcohol-free and non-alcoholic options are your best bet. However, if you’re using this month to reassess how you consume alcohol and want to moderate your drinking in a more holistic sense, you should consider the full range based on what appeals to you the most.
The best way to make a selection is to either find an option that replicates your favourite full-strength spirit, or focus on the flavour profiles that appeal the most to you from their ingredients. Here are some helpful resources to help you make your decision:
Get to Know Units and ABV
If you’re committing to moderating your alcohol consumption in an ongoing capacity, then you should also learn how to measure the strength of your drinks and plan out how you plan to balance this with the quantity of higher ABV drinks you may consume on a regular basis.
Units and ABV can be helpful. However, they can also turn into minefields of their own. In our ABV calculation guide, we use a reduced alcohol cocktail as an example of this, and you’ll see that depending how you measure its strength on the surface you get seemingly very different results:
- Using units, it came out as 0.53 units. This is fewer units than a pint of low ABV beer (0.68 units).
- Using ABV, it came out as 6.8%. This is clearly much stronger than a pint of low ABV beer (1.2%).
Ultimately, it’s best to know how you’re measuring, why you’re measuring and putting a rule into action that suits your lifestyle and comes easiest to you. Just know that if you’re reducing your alcohol intake in general, you’re already doing a great job!
Read next: Low ABV Calculation Guide
4 Simple but Delicious No and Low Drinks to Get You Started
If you're used to enjoying a drink or two, it can be tough to know where to start. That's why we’ve put together some of our favourite non-alcoholic and low-ABV serves to inspire you:
Valentian Vermouth Rosso is a fortified wine that is flavoured with herbs and spices. It has a slightly sweet and bitter taste, and it can be used to make a variety of cocktails, including the Negroni and the Americano.
For a reduced-ABV drink, simply mix Valentian Vermouth with tonic water. This will create a long, refreshing drink that is only 4% ABV.
Crossip Dandy Smoke is a smoky, non-alcoholic spirit that's complemented perfectly by Coca Cola for a simple yet flavourful serve!
To make a Crossip Dandy Smoke Smokey Cokey, simply combine 50ml of Crossip Dandy Smoke with 300ml of Coca-Cola. Add ice and a slice of lime to garnish, and enjoy.
You can also combine Crossip for smaller measures of alcohol to create lower ABV serves. In this instance, add 10ml Appleton Estate 12 Year Old Rare Casks Jamaica Rum to create a serve that equates to 0.5 units.
Adnams Smidgin Dry Gin is a unique gin that's designed to be enjoyed in small amounts. It's full strength at 50% ABV, but just a small measure is enough to create a delicious and refreshing gin and tonic at 0.6% ABV per serving,
To make an Adnams Smidgin Dry Gin and tonic, simply combine 0.5ml of Adnams Smidgin Dry Gin with 150ml of tonic water. Add ice and a slice of lime or orange to garnish, and enjoy.
Everleaf Forest is a non-alcoholic spirit that's perfect for making cocktails. It has a complex flavour profile with notes of citrus, spice, and herbs, making it a great substitute for gin in a classic Gimlet.
To make an Everleaf Forest Gimlet, simply combine 50ml of Everleaf Forest with 25ml of lime juice and 25ml of simple syrup. Shake all ingredients together with ice, and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a lime twist, and enjoy.
These are just a few of the many delicious non-alcoholic and low-ABV drinks that you can enjoy during Sober October and into the Christmas party season. With so many great options to choose from, you're sure to find something that you'll love!