Jessie Guranathan: Rebelling against the drinking culture

It’s okay to question or challenge the status quo around alcohol.

When I was growing up, telling someone I was sober was social suicide.

A dead silence seemed to descend on the room full of partygoers.
The idea that someone doesn’t want to voluntarily get blind drunk.

I moved to New Zealand before I was a teenager, and that’s when I started to realize alcohol and the role it plays in society. I went to a friend’s house for a sleepover and watched my parents pour wine, clink glasses, say ‘Cheers’ with a cold beer in hand. It was like a reward after a long day of work. It was a new and foreign concept to me, and I wanted to know what made these liquids so special.

I remember the first time I took a sip of beer – nothing prepared me for the bitterness, but I soon learned that it wasn’t the taste, it was the sensation I felt with each sip.

Liquid Courage – Slang: Decrease in timidity or inhibition from drinking alcoholic beverages.

It’s scientifically proven that as soon as alcohol enters the bloodstream, it lowers our inhibitions. We feel more relaxed, more confident, and more sociable.

So why is there a growing phenomenon of New Zealanders giving up their liquid courage in favor of low-alcohol or alcohol-free babies?

Drinking used to feel socially acceptable only if it was associated with alcoholism.


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Some join the “Dry January/July/Mocktober” and dabble in drinking temporarily for a little cleanse and reset. Then there are those who are staunch believers who refrain from anything that might threaten their pure and clean lifestyle. There are people who choose to

Whatever the reason for this understated curiosity, it’s on the rise and the beverage industry is taking notice.

According to a study released last January by ISWR Drinks Market Analysis, the market value of non-alcoholic or low-alcohol beverages will increase from $7.8 billion in 2018 to just under $10 billion in 2021, with the of alcoholic beers/ciders, wines, spirits and ready-to-drink products currently account for a 3.5% volume share of the beverage industry. As consumer demand for zero-drink options continues to soar, the rise of sobriety culture is growing. Across from Ditch in Melbourne is Brunswick His Ace, known as Australia’s first non-alcoholic bar and bottle shop.

It houses its own proprietary distiller, producing an intensely flavored “distillate” minus the liquor. From the chic menu, you can enjoy Zero His Percent cocktails like the King Lewis, which blends coconut water and cucumber mint cordial with Hearts Sapir (with notes of sweet citrus and native Australian wattle seeds).

Trendy zero-alcohol bars may not yet be on the coast, but most supermarkets have dedicated ‘zero zones’, offering a range of locally produced beverages. More public events and festivals introduce pop-up bar areas dedicated to serving low-alcohol or no alcohol at all.

The relationship between sports clubs, athletes, and alcohol sponsorships is a constant topic of discussion. In recent years, there has been pressure on clubs and events to stop doing business with alcohol brands. Many of these mainstream brands now offer their own alcohol-free alternatives, which could help change the narrative. – Carried out by Aramco Cognizant’s Formula 1 team.

Steinlager proudly boasts being the All Blacks’ longest-running sponsor, dating back to 1986, but alcohol is notorious for being associated with the sport’s problematic drinking culture. Perhaps focusing solely on promoting the company’s non-alcoholic alternative, Steinlager Zero, would be a good compromise?

Whatever your relationship with alcohol, being curious has never been easier. As it stands, it’s okay to question and challenge peer pressure, the need for escapism, the desire to socialize, and any and all invitations and drinking expectations. I believe that a true sense of freedom comes when we allow ourselves to make our own choices. I think it will become more and more normal to see more people, especially young people, rebelling against the dominant drinking culture that the older generation has.


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