As a food and drink blogger taking an entire month off the sauce seemed utter madness. Why would I do that to myself? I really like good booze, nay I love good booze! “Libational” religious experience is common parlance in my vocabulary. But at the behest of my fiancée, who was also abstaining for the month of January, I decided to give it a go.
There have been plenty of opportunities to slip up: a free bar at the opening of Brooklyn Bowl at the O2 (post to follow), a friend’s raucous house party. Though most challenging of them all have been the numerous delightful dinners at home with my lady. Between us sits a very unwelcome, but familiar guest, murky miserable looking squash is his name and washing away any culinary joy is his game. Between bites, are half heard mumblings, curses to our puritan resolve, while wonderful beers, ciders, wines and spirits sat mere feet away calling to us like sirens.
During this time of reflection, my understanding of why I drink has come more clearly into focus. It’s not so much the “two pint euphoria” or the “winegasm” I miss (though those are some good vibes). It’s the ceremony of opening a bottle of wine that’s been laid down a few years, the discovery of a new brewery whose beer sings at the first sip, the sound ice makes when it’s stirred with bourbon to make an Old Fashioned. But most of all, I miss the marriage of well-made food and good drink. Sure there are some very good non-alcoholic matches for some cuisines. You only have to look at the Lassi with an Indian or Green Tea with Sushi. But for me nothing can quite match the harmony that is achieved with pairing the right wine or beer or cider or spirit with a dish. The word sacred may seem a step too far for some, but not me.
On the plus side I’ve discovered some very good alcohol-free beers: the ironically named Jever ‘Fun’ and more to the point Rothaus Alkoholfrei.
When I started out on this little experiment in temperance, I didn’t believe I possessed the will power to abstain from one of my greatest passions for a whole month, that somehow I would lose my nerve and give in.
But I did it; I abstained for a whole month.
The 2 things I learned?
1. I am strong enough to go a month (or longer if I so chose) without drinking.
2. I am unlikely to take a month off drinking ever again.