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Take the buzz out of summer

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Karen Kerr and husband Rod unwind on the dock outside of their home in Millet Lake, NS. Karen believes you can have it all with no alcohol. Photo: Bruce Murray, VisionFire

Karen Kerr and husband Rod unwind on the dock outside of their home in Millet Lake, NS. Karen believes you can have it all with no alcohol. Photo: Bruce Murray, VisionFire

Recipes Featured In This Article

Are you ready to join the sober curious?

As a holistic nutritional consultant and yoga instructor, I take my health seriously, but “I really don’t think I can do this” was the thought loop running through my head in April 2017 as I embarked on my Year of Clean Living. 

It was a year-long challenge to remove my vices and start healthy habits—my 40th birthday present to myself. Omitting junk and processed foods and enhancing my daily exercise and mindfulness practices wasn’t my angst. It was the thought of no alcohol for an entire year. 

Nothing dramatic prompted the shift, just a nagging internal sense that life should feel “more.” I asked myself a question: “If I continue as is for the next 30 years what will 70-year-old me be doing?” 

Locally sourced ingredients are always on Karen’s cocktail menu. A shot of N.S. wild blueberry juice gives this Elderflower Mocktini a nutritional boost. Photo: Bruce Murray, VisionFire

I couldn’t envision the vibrant older version of myself I wanted to be unless I made some significant changes to the present one. That meant being realistic about my biggest vice. I knew removing my weekend wine, would open the door to a more active lifestyle and healthier way of being. I was becoming sober curious. 

Being sober curious is like hitting the reset button. The buzzwords are an invitation to experience how good life could be without booze for a while. It changes the conversation away from addiction to the rest of us drinkers and the benefit that time away could have on our physical and mental health. Being sober curious isn’t for a person with a serious drinking problem or physical dependency. For some people, total sobriety is only the solution. But for many of us, a simple cutting back can have a huge impact. 

I heard “Life is short” on many occasions when I refused a glass of wine or cocktail. It is, and our choices can make it shorter. 

Once my rosé-coloured glasses cleared, I began to see the countless ways advertising, media, and society prompted me to think about alcohol daily, from advertising, media and society. Scroll two minutes down your Facebook page and it’s wine o’clock somewhere. Drinking alcohol is normalized and even celebrated. Questioning it felt quite radical and a little scary. 

Many people fear missing out. Most holiday celebrations, vacations, and even sporting events revolve around alcohol. I felt awkward in the beginning, but quickly I began to feel so much better that it didn’t matter. Parenting became easier, I was more patient without hangovers. 

I found exercise easier and felt stronger quickly. I’m not going on record as saying that marriage is perfect when you take alcohol away, but it is easier not to be snarky if you’re not tipsy. The bottom line is, I felt more connected to myself, I made better decisions, laughed more, and certainly had fewer regrets. And my bloodwork agreed, after finishing the year and undergoing an intense physical, my biological age was 31. A decade younger!

Many people have turned to alcohol to cope with the pandemic. Just go down the rabbit hole of Tik Tok drinking videos and you’ll see a disturbing trend. Drinking isn’t about being social anymore. 

At the same time, there is a growing trend of people questioning the need for alcohol in their lives. And the market is reflecting this, with more alcohol-free beverage options popping up all the time. On the East Coast, we are seeing craft beverages like kombucha sold on tap and I am learning about new alcohol-free cocktail bases that could give your classic margherita a run for its money. 

I would love to see all local breweries, distilleries, and wineries start making alcohol-free versions of their product, but we still have a long way to go. For now, I use local ingredients instead of alcohol-free substitutes in my drinks. Summer is the best season for sourcing fruits and berries that are ripe for the picking. I often come up with my Saturday night drink after my Saturday morning farmer’s market run.

Here are a few of my go-to cocktails inspired by my favourite East Coast berries. 

East Coast Living