After 39 lonnnng days I finally broke my booze fast with a Dalmore Scotch lunch at the Varnish yesterday. Contrary to popular belief, most days this fast — inspired by Lent but by no means religious — was easy to pull off. I never got the shakes or spontaneously salivated, although in the second week I did have nightmares about drinking and then felt incredibly guilty.
But it was during St. Patrick’s Day, a Radio Room, a wine tasting and a weekend in Mammoth with my boozing blogger friends where my resolve was tested to the nth degree. And yet somehow I managed to power through without consuming a drop of booze. Well, not counting that time that Ortega 120 mistakenly gave me a regular margarita instead of the virgin coconut one I ordered. But even then I wasn’t tempted to “accidentally” take more than that first shocking sip. I think it helped that I made a list of things I wanted to drink as soon as the fast was over. Gave me something to look forward to.
Anyway, I wanted to share some revelations I experienced during my liquor-free Lent-ish for the curious who have been toying with the idea of doing one themselves. Although your experience will probably be different from mine:
- I didn’t feel different. Not healthier, not more energetic. But I did feel bored. I had to say no to lots of things since it didn’t make sense for me to do happy hour or go to a lot of events where there was booze paired with food. Suffice it to say, I stayed home a lot.
- Oddly enough, I didn’t lose weight but rather gained weight. Five pounds to be exact. Seems that depriving myself of cocktails aggravated my sweet tooth so I never passed on dessert and was always snacking. I think this was also due to my wanting to replace one vice for another. “Well since I’m not having a cocktail, I can order that creme brulee.”
- I learned to appreciate cocktails on a whole other level. When out with friends at bars, I’d always ask to smell the cocktails that they ordered. They thought I was just torturing myself but I saw it as appreciating that aspect of drinking most of us usually skip which is to take in its aroma like one would with wine before a sip. “Mmm, I can smell that hint of ginger, the warmth of the Scotch and a whiff of lemon.” This is something I’ll continue to practice as it really creates a well-rounded drinking experience and makes the cocktail all the more satisfying to consume.
- I don’t have to finish every drink. Because of this practice of mindful drinking I found yesterday during the Scotch lunch that I didn’t feel compelled to dry out every glass of booze set in front of me. When I had my fill, I stopped. No biggie.
- There are plenty of great alternatives to cocktails, especially at bars that have fresh produce like at Rivera and Copa d’Oro where they can fix you up a delicious mocktail with a cocktail-worthy presentation. Mmm, blackberry with ginger beer. But at regular bars, I made do with ginger beer with orange juice or just ginger ale. When that got too sweet, club soda with lime for a refreshing sip.
Although I didn’t feel any different and I didn’t lose the weight I hoped I would, I’d do this again. It was really nice to take a break from drinking because for awhile there I felt like I was drinking every night. Not good.
Plus it really made me learn to practice mindful drinking where I actually slow down and savor the cocktail by enjoying its presentation, aroma and taste. Some things that I probably took for granted before.
Anyway, it feels great to be off the wagon again. FYI, if you feel like celebrating with me, I’ll be at First & Hope tonight for their new bar night, Red Rover, Red Rover for some drinks, jazz and appetizers. Hope to see you there. BTW, although there’s no cover to get in, it’s cash only at the bar so make a quick stop at the ATM first.