By Emma Gilmour

    As the blossoms bloom and the air fills with the sweet scent of spring, October invites us to dust off the cobwebs of our winter’s comfort zone and have a crack at some more healthy fun alternatives. What better way to do so than by embarking on an alcohol-free or sober-curious October. The Pub With No Booze event is poised to be a celebration of lively connections, great company, and tantalising non-alcoholic beverages.

    Behind this groundbreaking event stands Anthony Hammond, a local legend who’s been alcohol-free for several years. Born and bred in regional Victoria, Anthony’s vision was clear: a pub that caters to all, regardless of their beverage choice. The Victoria Hotel stands as a testament to his commitment, offering an impressive low and no alcohol selection any day of the week. But on the 14th of October, the pub will take it a step further, going completely booze-free for the day.

    There are many reasons why the low and no-alcohol section is the fastest-growing sector in the drinks market. Ranging from people who have decided to leave booze behind completely, are taking a break, designated drivers, pregnant humans, to people just wanting to drink less and have a grown-up drink while they do so.

    Ticket holders can look forward to a diverse array of tastings and the opportunity to purchase from the country’s top low and no alcohol producers. With brands including  NON, Heaps Normal, VinZero, Hiatus, Lightning Minds, Monday distillery, ETCH, Sobah, Yes You Can, Beneficial Beer, Buds and Beads, ALTD Spirits, Ghiddy, Brewtropic, HIGHR Spirits, Naked Life, there’s a treasure trove of options to explore. 

    Kids are welcome, but not to do the tastings, as some of the beverages replicate alcohol so would not be appropriate for kids or people who are wanting to stay off the grog and might find alcohol replicas triggering. This event isn’t just about drinks; there is food by Street BBQ’s Matt Wilkinson, and DJ Lady Langers’ disco beats will be laying waste to the stereotype that alcohol-free events are sober affairs!

    For those venturing to the Pub With No Booze alone, fear not! Join the Untoxicated Melbourne Meet-Up group, led by yours truly – Emma Gilmour – a Williamstown local. Untoxicated was started in 2018 by Faye Lawrence, determined not to lose her social life just because she had stopped drinking. This ready-made group of friends ensures you’ll step through those doors with confidence, knowing you’re part of a gloriously inclusive and friendly gang who, for whatever reason, have decided to come to an event where booze is not the sole focus.

    These tips are designed to help you navigate social situations in an alcohol-free or sober-curious October, ensuring you have a great time while staying true to your choice. 

    Top 10 Tips for Socialising Alcohol-Free:

    1. Visualise It Beforehand: Before you go out, take a few minutes to run through the night in your head until you leave having not drunk any alcohol. The brain doesn’t register that you haven’t actually done this before and sees it as a blueprint for how things can go right!
    2. Confidence is Key: Have a line prepared for why you are not drinking today. When we hesitate, people often want to try and save us, and this is where we can feel pressured and make a decision we don’t want to. Walk into social situations with confidence in your choice to be alcohol-free. Own it, and others will respect your decision.
    3. Have a Go-To Drink: Whether it’s a mocktail, sparkling water with a twist of lime, or a fancy non-alcoholic beverage, having a go-to drink in hand can help you feel more comfortable in social settings. Knowing what you are drinking when someone asks is really good; people are happy when they have an answer. Hesitating with an answer can mean they try to save you with alcohol again.
    4. Give Yourself A Project: I love to take on a project, like becoming the event photographer or challenging myself to discover the hobbies of 10 people. Asking questions is a fantastic way to engage with others, and you’ll be surprised how people light up when they get to talk about themselves!
    5. Plan Activities: Suggest activities that don’t revolve around alcohol. This could be anything from hiking, board games, or attending events like the Pub With No Booze. Your alcohol imbibing friends might be surprised how much fun they can have at a booze-free event!
    6. Surround Yourself with Supportive People: Seek out friends and acquaintances who are supportive of your choice to be alcohol-free in October. They will be more understanding and encouraging of your decision.
    7. Be Mindful of Triggers: Recognise situations that may trigger the desire to drink. You may be surprised how many things you drink to get through. Have a plan in place for how you’ll handle these moments, such as stepping outside for fresh air, engaging in a different activity, or leaving.
    8. Be mindful about being the designated driver: Often this leads to us having to stay longer than we might want to. I plan to stay no longer than two hours when socialising alcohol-free. Let any passengers know that this is your plan and get their agreement to get a taxi home if they don’t want to leave and you do. Feeling fed up is a surefire route to drinking when you don’t want to.
    9. Explore Non-Alcoholic Options: Get curious about the wide array of non-alcoholic beverages available. Try different brands and flavours to find what you enjoy.
    10. Have an Exit Strategy: If you ever feel uncomfortable or tempted to drink, have a plan for how you’ll gracefully exit the situation. It’s perfectly okay to prioritise your well-being.

    Remember, embracing a booze-free lifestyle doesn’t mean missing out on the fun—it’s an opportunity to create memorable experiences with a clear head and a healthy body. 

    Enjoy your October and see you on October 14 from 3-8 pm at the Victoria Hotel Footscray,

    Pub With No Booze at the Victoria Hotel
    Victoria Hotel Footscray 43 Victoria Street Footscray 3011

    You can follow Emma on Instagram – @hoperisingcoaching


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