Mindful Drinking: How More And More People Are Becoming ‘Sober Curious’

by | Oct 19, 2022 | Health, Life, Mental Health

Ah, South Africans and alcohol. If our status as a nation of binge drinkers didn’t reveal anything about our complicated relationship with booze, the lockdown bans gave insights as clear as our much-beloved gin.

However, new alcohol-free or low-alcohol drinks are lining the shelves of local liquor stores at rapid speed.

So what’s up with that? Turns out younger people, especially, are opting to drink in moderation, with recent research suggesting that millennials (aged 25 to 40) are the ones working the hardest to change their relationship with alcohol, while Generation Z (18-24’ers) are drinking much less to begin with.

According to research published in 2021 from the International Wine and Spirits Record (IWSR) Drinks Market Analysis: The total sales of no/lo drinks are predicted to grow by over 31% by 2024. Research released by the IWSR on ‘Key Trends Driving the Global Alcohol Industry in 2022’, states that while 36% of the British boomer generation will substitute alcoholic drinks with no/lo options,’ it is also estimated that as many as 1 in 10 UK adults are now non-drinkers.

But less alcohol doesn’t mean we’re being less social. Bottle stores are stocked with new and delicious low-sugar drinks; major global brands are now offering healthier cocktail ideas; Dry January, Dry July and Ocsober have become national sports; while organisations like Hello Sunday Morning are encouraging the popularity of no-hangover weekends.

READ MORE: “I Took On The OcSober Challenge — And It Totally Changed My Relationship With Alcohol”

What actually is mindful drinking, then?

In short, it’s kind of the opposite of what most of us have done our entire adult lives – reaching for a drink (or several) because we’d finally finished work, because it was a Friday, because we’d had a bad or good day, because we were enjoying a nice meal,  because we were, well, just kinda bored…Mindful drinking is here to combat that without-muchthought consumption. It’s all about the conscious practice of questioning your motivation for imbibing, reflecting on that behaviour and being open to making alternative choices.

mindful drinking cocktail

And it looks different for everyone. “Mindful drinking is about taking a conscious approach to consuming alcohol– with attention and intention. There’s no right or wrong way,” says Dominique Robert-Hendren, chief clinical psychologist at Hello Sunday Morning, which offers community peer support, self-care navigation and health coaching to help people change their relationship with booze. “It can assist with responsible drinking and potentially be a middle path to sustained change.”

She adds that being mindful of how we drink can also lead to a place of acceptance and help us open up to understanding our relationship with alcohol. Meaning? We can then start to decide what role we want it to play in our lives. Love the sound of that!

READ MORE: Here’s How To Do The Festive Season Sober, Plus The Best Alcohol-Free Drinks

Generation Sober Curious

The growing interest in a more “sober-curious” lifestyle has found a passionate home on Instagram, a platform dominated by millennial women. The tag #SoberCurious appears on 414k posts and counting.And local non-alcoholic G&T brand The Duchess reported that 74% of its buyers are women between 18 and 34 years old. “Mindful drinking really does tie into that more holistic approach to how millennial women are looking after themselves,” confirms Robert-Hendren. “With that demographic particularly, they’re more in tune with wellness and fitness and they’re getting educated when they go to the gym or see a nutritionist,” she adds.

fever tree tonic mindful drinking

With that emphasis on wellbeing, it’s no wonder the mindful drinking movement has also started attracting fitness lovers – from morning runners to yogis. Take your tipple pick from the likes of kombucha, spirits spiked with nutrient-boosting herbs and even vegan wines. Their aim? To add balance, not hangovers, to your weekend festivities. As for alternatives, gone are the days when lime and soda was it. Now, lowalcohol beers are coming from mainstream breweries (Castle, Heineken and Devil’s Peak, to name a few), major wineries like Van Loveren are producing wine with as low as 0.4% alcohol (Van Loveren Almost Zero) and low-alcohol spirits occupy top-shelf spots in bars. Being “soberish” has never been more appealing. Cheers!

READ MORE: How To Tell If You’re A Binge-Drinker Or Heavy Alcohol User

Teetotalling Tipples

Replenish your top shelf with this bevy of booze-free bottles.

babylonstoren bitterlekker

Babylonstoren BitterLekker

This non-alcoholic apéritif is herby, zesty and just a little bitter. Perfect for a spring day.

R135 for 6, Babylonstoren.com

Van Loveren Absolute Zero Nectar

Van Loveren Absolute Zero Nectar

This sparkling wine is 0% alcohol, 100% vegan and tasty. Plus, it’s low in sugar and calories.

R630 for 6, Vanloveren.co.za

mahala botanical mindful drinking

Mahala Botanical

The brainchild of one of the few female Master Distillers in SA, this is a non-alcoholic, triple-distilled spirit with flavours of Cape fynbos. Mahala & Tonic anyone?

R299, Takealot.com

Devil’s Peak Zero To Hero Twist Of Citrus

Devil’s Peak Zero To Hero Twist Of Citrus

Bright, hoppy but with a twist, this pale ale is only 162 kilojoules per drink. Best served ice cold around a braai.

R75 for 6, Makro

Castle free mindful drinking

Castle Free

SA’s first home-grown 0.0% alcohol-free beer, Castle Free is brewed with the same ingredients used in Castle Lager. It’s a classic for a reason.

R195 for 24, Makro


Robertson Winery Non-Alcoholic Sweet Sparkling Pink

Pink drinks are for everyone, even the teetotallers. This rosé bubbly from Robertson Winery, with notes of ripe strawberry, is sweet, fruity and refreshing. *clinks glass*.

R75, Pnp.co.za

READ MORE: “I Tried To Stop Saying ‘I’m Sorry’ For A Week — Here’s What Happened”


The Duchess AlcoholFree Elderflower White Wine Spritzer

Who doesn’t love a spritzer in spring? Light, fresh and tangy, it’s a great option for the gluten-free gals!

R199 for 12, Yuppiechef.com

mindful drinking seedlip

Seedlip Spice 94 Distilled Non-Alcoholic Spirit

The Spice 94 spirit is a blend of aromatic, Jamaican allspice, berry and cardamom. Bonus: Seedlip’s drinks are sugar-, sweetener- and artificial flavour-free.

R499, Yuppiechef.com

Words by Hannah Warren & Kelleigh Korevaar

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