“Not drinking tonight?”
“Are you pregnant?”
“What do you have against fun?”
All questions that have come up again and again for me during the last decade while holding a club soda instead of an alcoholic drink. I wasn’t eager to answer a single one. However, if any of these questions were reframed as: “What went into your decision to not drink alcohol today?” I would probably have felt better about sharing my personal journey. So, if you’re wondering why I started a non-alcoholic cocktail company, here’s my personal relationship with alcohol, and several bonus reasons why an alcohol-free life makes me feel my most confident, best self.
My Journey Going Alcohol-Free
At twenty-two years old during the last semester of my senior year, I got my first migraine on a Wednesday night after drinking a couple beers at the dive bar in our small college town. It was obvious to me that the beer caused the pain, but I wondered: “Was it that the beer was extra hoppy?”, “Had I drank enough water?,” and so on.
Over the course of a year, the headaches happened more frequently and became more severe. A glass of wine, migraine for two days. Half a cocktail, a migraine that Excedrin or Advil could not get rid of. Neurologists assured me that these were “just migraines,” and equipped me with a cocktail of prescriptions from injectable migraine medications to muscle relaxers. They worked in getting rid of the migraine, but they would also knock me out. On good days, I lived with a low level hum of pain over my forehead, and on bad days, the pain was debilitating. I mean fetal position while trying to claw my left-eye out, debilitating. For those who suffer from migraines, I know you understand. Over time I became more aware of my body and my migraine triggers, excessive heat, hormonal changes, caffeine, and of course, alcohol.
For years, it was a push and pull. I wanted to socialize but did not know how to confidently do that without a beer or cocktail in hand. I couldn’t figure out how to make others feel comfortable with my choice to not drink. So, some nights I’d go out, and I’d usually end up ordering my one drink with the rest of my friends, knowing I’d have to medicate myself when I got home. Other nights, I would just stay home to avoid the decision and stay pain-free, but that isolating decision usually made me feel even worse about myself. Eventually, I grew more confident in my decision to cut out alcohol, and considered it an opportunity to seek out interesting NA beverages. I began mixing my own zero-proof cocktails at home. An alcohol-free drink that was as sophisticated and as full-bodied as the traditional cocktail made me feel like I was part of the party once again, but this time migraine-free. When I started adding CBD into my cocktails during dinner parties, everyone wanted a zero-proof CBD Cocktail for at least one round. That was the beginning of Crisp & Crude.
5 Bonus Reason Why I Love Not Drinking Alcohol
1. Always Driving
There are definitely benefits to being able to always drive yourself home. But for me, it’s the drive at the beginning of the night that I enjoy most. Whenever going out (in pre-pandemic times), I pick up a friend or two and we drive to the restaurant or bar together. I adore these rides because it’s an opportunity to catch up one-on-one with a friend and get excited for whatever we have in plan for that evening. Plus, you don’t have to pay for an uber.
2. The Bitter & Burn Challenge
A well-balanced cocktail should have bitter, burn, or in some cases both. Once I realized what aspects of a traditional cocktail I did enjoy, I’ve made it my mission to create zero-proof cocktails that offer the same sipping experience with bitter and burn like their alcohol-based compatriots. I loved the challenge so much that I started a company out of it.
3. Less Second Guessing
Do you ever find yourself at the end of the night, playing back what you said during that one conversation then panic spiraling into second-guessing yourself? “Did I sound smart?”, “Was I too open?”, “Did I sound too judge-y?”. Sure, sometimes I still replay the night, but I’m usually so much more confident in my decisions and actions without alcohol, and that’s because I feel more confident in my own skin.
4. Deeper Sleep
Simple as that. I sleep deeper when I don’t drink alcohol, and reap all the rewards of a solid eight hours. Happier emotions, better skin, better immunity, just better all around.
5. Crystal Clear Mornings
I’m a morning person, through and through. I feel my most active and most productive before noon. Non-alcoholic cocktails help me get after that morning work-out or whatever project I’m in the middle of tackling.
Most importantly, I’m migraine free when I cut out alcohol, and I feel much lighter and happier as a result. Everyone has their own journey when exploring an alcohol-free or sober curious lifestyle, and I’m so thankful for those who have supported me with empathy and curiosity.